Adventures

May 12, 2008

Use What You Have: Spicy Cilantro-Garlic Paste

I love using leftovers and items culled from the depths of the crisper bins in the refrigerator. I hate food waste. I've just discovered Wasted Food and, unfortunately, I'm not surprised. Dismayed, disappointed, saddened, but not surprised. The food waste in this country seems to mirror the consumer-driven, disposable culture that reigns. It's a shame. Plenty of people in this country need food.

In an effort to walk the talk, I always consider the potential leftovers when planning meals for the week. Not only do I plan to have enough for lunches the next day but I've always got ideas floating in my head in case lunch the next day gets postponed or we simply have too much. But I don't mind at all because I enjoy coming up with creative and tasty dishes.

Cilantro is an herb that seems to pass its prime within minutes and can easily become food waste. Often, you buy a whole bunch to make one specific dish that only calls for a small amount. Then you have the rest just sitting there. Not usually a problem for me because I love cilantro and can find all sorts of places to include it. But this week I found myself with a quickly wilting bunch. That, and a big jalapeno pepper that looked like it could use a good moisturizer. No problem - spicy cilantro-garlic paste.

This is really easy. I peeled and coarsely chopped a whole head of garlic with good-sized bulbs. I seeded and de-veined the chile because most often my eating companion(s) like(s) milder fare than I and it's easy for me to add heat later to my own dish. In about three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil I sauteed the garlic and pepper slowly until softened but not colored. This then went into the food processor with the bunch of cilantro and I blended until combined. Scrape down the sides if needed. No salt or pepper at this stage. Later, when you effortlessly toss some homemade cilantro-garlic paste into a fabulous dish, you can season at will.

You can either freeze this mixture in an ice cube tray and store the cubes in a zipper freezer bag or as one whole slab in a zipper freezer bag. This time I chose the slab version. I can just break off chunks as needed for stir-fry, soup, rice, just about anything. I've not created any food waste and I've created a homemade convenience item.

What are some ways that you cut down on food waste in your house?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

As my food correspondent perhaps you can tell me how to start to try to duplicate a sauce I had on pork chops at Viva Barcelona! It was a fig and pine nut sauce. I think it would be good on chicken or brie or even a vegetable.

Where do I begin?

vb said...

Wow, Viva Barcelona? Well, I would take as many hints from the menu as I could. Then think back to the sauce and ask was it sweet? Spicy? Savory? Tangy? What color? Consistency? You could always ask Viva Barcelona for the ingredients. Most places are happy to oblige because these days diners are much more aware of what goes into their food. Perhaps you can contact me directly and we can discuss. I'd like to make the sauce too!

Asha said...

That sounds wonderful vb, great tip!:)

vb said...

Thanks, asha!

Holler said...

Good thinking VB and you can use it in all sorts of ways! Do you know if you stand your coriander in the fridge in a glass of water, it will last longer?

vb said...

Holler, yes, that's a great idea! I sometimes just forget to do it. Then one day you peek into the refrigerator and yikes!

gay said...

This one I've got to try - two of my favorite herbs!

vegeyum said...

I am in love with your blog. Thanks for visiting me so that I could discover you! I will be back.

vb said...

vegyum, you are too kind! You have an amazing blog with fabulous photos. Really great stuff!

tigerfish said...

I like the fact you can prepare a lot of the paste and keep it for future use :)...Came from WHB roundup.

vb said...

Tigerfish, that's the best part. So convenient and homemade. Thanks for stopping by.

Kalyn said...

Sounds like a great idea and a very versatile sauce.

vb said...

Kalyn, thanks for visiting. Yep, you can put it on anything.

vb net consulting said...

Very nice post...thanks for sharing useful information...

vb said...

You're welcome!

janetching said...

I came from A Life (time) of Cooking. So nice to find your blog, I always have some cilantro left at home and had no idea what to do with it, thanks for such a great usage !

vb said...

Janet, I know your blog. It's great! Thanks for finding me. Yes, I hate to waste anything so I have wonderful things in my freezer that I pull out to create tasty dishes.

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