Rising grocery prices: how to get the most out of your produce

With rising food prices and the reality of climate change upon us, there’s no better time to make sure you’re getting the most from your produce. Assortment has some simple tips to help you keep your produce fresh longer so it ends up on your plate, not in the landfill – helping you save money and protect the planet!

Storage

● Where you store your products is as important as how you store them. Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as many fruits emit ethylene gas when they ripen, causing some vegetables like lettuce to ripen at an accelerated rate.

● No one likes soggy, limp lettuce or leafy greens! To avoid this, store them in an airtight container lined with a clean kitchen towel to absorb water and keep them crispy.

● Root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potato, onion and pumpkin should all be stored in a cool, dry place. Carrots, turnips and beets keep best in the fridge.

● Herbs are the holy grail of flavor and help transform any dish, so it’s important that we take care of them. We suggest either storing them in a glass jar with water in the fridge, or wrapping soft herbs like parsley, basil and cilantro in a clean kitchen towel and storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

Ice baths

● When produce seems a bit soft, simply immerse it in ice water for 10-15 minutes before patting it dry (this is especially good for celery) – you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Use your freezer

● To freeze excess vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and pumpkin before they spoil, blanch them, then place them on a tray and freeze (freeze them first on a tray prevents the formation of a large ball of ice). Once frozen, place them in a reusable freezer bag – now you have pre-cut, cooked vegetables to add to stir-fries, soups and pan-fried sides.

● Freeze leftover herbs. For soft herbs, chop them coarsely and place them in ice cube containers, with a little olive oil, which will allow you to add a touch of flavor to a dish as needed. For woody herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage, place them in an airtight container and then in the freezer, ready for your next bolognese or stew.

● Food scraps aren’t just for your worm farm. When cooking, we keep the leftover vegetables, such as the ends of the carrots, the onions and the stalks of celery. Once you have had enough, you can make a delicious vegetable broth.

Use all bits and bobs

● Frittatas, curries, stir-fries, soups or vegetable fritters often use a variety of vegetables, which is why they are the ideal candidate for a meal in the refrigerator, using up the bits that are lying around. Our spicy vegetable and chickpea fritters below are the perfect example.

● Pestos and dips are like “CPR” for your wilted herbs. Try our Herb Smashed Pea Pesto below, which uses all the fresh herbs you have on hand, frozen peas, and a few other pantry staples. Not only do you end up using your herbs, but now you have a delicious spread to add to toast, veggies, meats, and cheese platters.

Photo / Provided
Photo / Provided

Spicy Vegetable and Chickpea Fritters with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Less than 30 minutes, for 4 people

Donuts
400 g can of rinsed and drained chickpeas
1 broccoli, cut into florets
¼ cauliflower, cut into florets
3 eggs
1 lemon, zest
1 tbsp curry powder
50 g crumbled feta
½ cup flour
Salt and pepper
Coconut oil, for cooking
Garlic yogurt sauce
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
To serve
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

1. Start by steaming the cauliflower and broccoli. Add the cauliflower to a steamer and steam for 3 minutes before adding the broccoli, then steam for another 3-4 minutes, or until both are cooked al dente . Once cooked and cool enough to handle, roughly chop to the consistency of rice.
2. While the vegetables cook, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or fork until they form a thick crumb texture.
3. Add all donut ingredients to a large bowl and mix well to combine.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add a generous amount of coconut oil and cook the donuts (about ¼ cup per donut) for 2-3 minutes on each side or until tender. they are golden and well cooked.
5. Place the baked donuts in the oven at 100 degrees fan oven to keep them warm, while you cook the remaining donuts and prepare the yogurt and garlic sauce.
6. To make the garlic yogurt sauce, simply place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine.
7. Serve the donuts with a dollop of yogurt, a little chilli, coriander and toasted cashews.

Photo / Provided
Photo / Provided

HERB-BREATHERED PEAS PESTO ON SOURDOUGH

Less than 15 minutes, for 4 people

8 slices of sourdough
Olive oil
4 tablespoons dukkah or seed filling
Pea pesto
1 cup peas, thawed
1 cup fresh herbs, we used cilantro and mint
½ cup toasted almonds
1 lemon, juice
3 tablespoons of tahini
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Place all of the pea pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until combined but still a little coarse; season as desired. Set aside until ready to serve.
2. Lightly toast sourdough and drizzle with olive oil, top with herb smashed pea pesto and sprinkle with dukkah or seed topping.

Laura Bedwell and Nikki Crerar run Assortment. Catch them on Instagram @assortment___ or head to assortmentfoods.com for more.