Changing The Way We Eat

June 1, 2016

Changing The Way We Eat

June’s arrived in all of its toasted marshmallow, warm firey goodness and after a fast-paced start to the year, I am looking forward to some slow-cooked nurturing for my soul. But I wonder this year, if the way we cook is shifting?

I’ve always loved, on a cold winter’s day, tucking into a rich tomato pasta, packed with things like herbs, beef ragout, shaved parmesan and drizzled with truffle oil.

These days though, I’m thinking more and more about shifting to ribbons of zucchini as I watch and am tempted by the ever increasing move towards healthier, lighter eating. And I’m not the only one.

I read recently there are reductions in pasta sales worldwide – by as much as 25 per cent in Italy and even eight per cent here in Australia. For such a staple ingredient, purchased en-masse, that’s a pretty big drop.

On top of that, the pasta that is being taken off the shelves is changing too, with many restaurants incorporating vegetable purees like spinach or beetroot into the pasta dough – spaghetti pumpkin anyone?

My years of cooking in the UK taught me there’s a real market for vegetarian eating, with the choices of vegetarian dishes often equalling, or even surpassing the meat dishes on offer – but until now, and especially on the Sunny Coast, we’ve fallen a long way behind (I’ve heard the sight of ‘vegie stack’ on a menu can bring a vegetarian to tears!).

With ‘No Meat Mondays’ gaining traction, and a new trend of main dishes of vegetables and side dishes of meat, that may all be about to change.

For years, we’ve had a fascination with ‘nose to tail’ options when dining – giving chefs the opportunity to showcase the often forgotten parts of an animal.  And that’s great for the wallet and for the world around us.

With an estimated 40 per cent of edible food being thrown in our bins each year, it’s time we started waking up to what we can all be doing a little bit better.

As a trained chef, it’s all too easy to throw away the stalk of a broccoli, or the pulp from our juice – but with a bit of thought, and a quick retrain of what’s ‘worthy’ of our plate, the good news is we don’t have to keep filling our bins so quickly. The new buzz phrase, ‘root to stem’ is something that totally resonates with me.

Monday, 20 June, marks winter solstice and at time of writing, I don’t have a function booked.  Monday’s often a day I get to spend with my boys and the impending darkness seems like the perfect opportunity to come up with something new, making the most of all the bits we’ve got.  I’m leaning toward Philippine food – vinegars and cured beef.  I love the idea of meat stewed in vinegar and it’s something I’ve kind of forgotten (though maybe we’ll save that for Tuesday and have something ‘root to stem’ on Monday!).

As the days are shorter and we’re snuggled up inside for more hours, I’d encourage you to think a little differently; use a little more of what’s in your fridge, and come up with a new use for your broccoli stalks.

juice pulp fritters
Juice Pulp Fritters

– 250g pulp (I used beetroot and carrot)
– 50g finely chopped onion
– 2 tsp garlic
– 1 tsp garam masala
– ½ tsp finely minced ginger
– 2 tsp curry powder
– 1 tsp salt
– ¼ tsp pepper
– ¼ tsp finely chopped chilli
– ½ cup water
– ½ cup chickpea flour
– 1 tsp finely chopped dill
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Over a medium heat fry fritters in a large frying pan with vegetable oil in batches. Cook until golden on each side. Makes 20.
Serve with mango jam, eggplant or tomato relish, mayonnaise or sour cream. You can also make them a little larger and put them inside a burger bun, with your favourite salad, relish or grilled vegetable.

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