Thanks to the zero food waste movement, things like carrot peelings, pumpkin pulp and beet tops are moving out of the garbage can and onto the dinner plate. Fortunately there are palatable ways to make this happen, some of which will be explored in a class, Squash Soup and Soccas, at Artisans at the Dahmen Barn.
Soup stock is an easy way to make use of the flavors and nutrients that are available in vegetable castoffs, said Gretchen Stoops, class instructor. And before you doubt the end result of such a practice, know that Stoops is a professionally trained chef. Before she moved to Moscow from the San Francisco Bay area, she got paid to make food taste good.
Several years ago, Stoops began to redefine what she saw as edible. Contrary to the training she received in France, she found those onion skins didnt necessarily belong in the garbage.
I got turned on to the value of foods that we throw away, Stoops said.
Take the squash, for example, that will go into the soup for the class. The vegetable is bursting with zinc, she said, an immune-boosting nutrient in which most Americans are deficient. That zinc is present not just in the meat of the vegetable, but in the skin, the pulp and the seeds, so zero food waste means drawing out as much value as possible.
To accomplish this, the skin, which cant be entirely digested, goes into the stock where it releases its nutrients before ending up in the compost pile. Same with the pulp. The seeds can be roasted and eaten or even used to make pumpkin seed milk and, in turn, pumpkin seed cheese, Stoops said.
The zero food waste approach goes hand in hand with another food trend that leans toward eating foods that are local and in season.
Eating whats seasonal is really beneficial for our bodys needs for that season, Stoops said, pointing to the benefits of consuming zinc during cold and flu season.
Besides the squash, Stoops will make use of garbanzo beans, which are grown locally. Garbanzo flour is the primary ingredient in socca, a savory flat pancake that originated in southern Europe. It is naturally gluten free and high in protein, Stoops said, so it fits a lot of the current diet trends.
The socca can be made as a simple flatbread to accompany any meal. Even a plain version is delicious when it's hot off the griddle, Stoops said, but it can be also varied. Seasoning additions alter the flavor and varying the thickness can result in something that can be used as a pizza crust or a wrap.
The soup also can be varied, and Mexican, Italian and Thai versions will be explored in the class.
For Stoops, moving toward zero food waste and local, seasonal eating is about appreciating what is available to us.
Eating this way is not only healing to our bodies, but to our planet, Stoops said.
And as a bonus, it also happens to taste good.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Squash Soup and Soccas culinary arts workshop
WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 15
WHERE: Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, Uniontown
COST: $45; registration required by Feb. 13, register online at www.artisanbarn.org or call (509) 229-3414