Rescuing vegetables and preventing food waste at home (e.g. by making leftover dinners) requires some creativity. It happens sometimes that I pick up discounted vegetables from a supermarket or market, but then don’t really know what to do with them. Looking for a recipe around these vegetables doesn’t always work, because it usually requires getting more ingredients than the ones you already have.
But there is a way around it. Each world cuisine gets its unique flavors from the mix of spices and herbs. So when I feel like making a dish from a certain part of the world, I use the vegetables that are available in the Netherlands (no looking for exotic ingredients) and spice them up in a certain way. Remember that once you start practising these mixes it will become your second nature. And no recipes needed!
Base: Cook on the basis of olive oil and garlic.
Best vegetables: Almost any vegetable will do for an Italian-style dish, for example tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, carrots, onions.
Spices and Herbs: Use a mix of dry herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, and thyme
Grains: Serve your Italian-style dish with pasta or short-grain rice like Aroborio
Top up: finish your dishes with fresh basil, cheese, and/or olives.
Base: Cook on the basis of olive oil or butter, garlic, and onions. If you’re making stew, use red wine and vegetable bouillon as liquids..
Best vegetables: celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, potatoes, eggplants, zucchini.
Spices and Herbs: Use fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and ground nutmeg.
Grains: Fresh bread.
Top up: Fresh thyme, rosemary, or parsley.
Base: Cook on the base of olive oil, garlic, and onions.
Best vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, olives, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, cucumbers, potatoes,
Spices and Herbs: Dried oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and paprika powder
Grains: Pita bread, rice, or orzo
Top up: Finish the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, crumbled feta cheese, or serve with tzatziki sauce.
Base: Cook on the base of sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.
Best vegetables: Bok choy, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, radish, daikon, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, spring onion.
Spices and Herbs: Get the unique Japanese flavour by adding a few teaspoons of soy sauce, sake, and miso paste into your dish. You can also use them to prepare a salad dressing. Optionally, try adding some honey or sugar to sweeten the dish.
Grains: Short-grain rice (e.g. sushi rice), rice noodles, ramen or udon noodles.
Top up: Finish your dish with toasted sesame seeds, nori or other seaweed.
Base: Cook the stews on ghee or coconut oil with ginger and garlic.
Best vegetables: Potatoes, spinach, legumes (lentils/split peas), broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, leafy greens.
Spices and Herbs: Chili pepper, coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds. You can also use read-made curry paste (red, yellow, or green). To get the stew consistency, use canned tomatoes and/or coconut milk (add vegetable bouillon if needed).
Grains: Long grain rice (e.g. basmati) or Chapati bread.
Base: Cook on the base of peanut or sesame oil with garlic
Best vegetables: Bamboo, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, paprika, onion, cabbage, bok choy, leafy greens
Spices and Herbs: Fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, star anise. Use soy sauce, sesame oil and/or oyster sauce for dressings or sauces.
Grains: Egg noodles or rice
Base: Cook on vegetable oil or lard with chili pepper and garlic
Best vegetables: Tomato, black beans, avocados, potatoes, corn, onions, paprika.
Spices and Herbs: chili powder, cayenne pepper, coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon
Grains: Corn tortillas, wheat burritos, rice
Top up: Finish you dishes with a squeeze of lime juice and fresh coriander leaves.
Base: Cook on olive oil with garlic and onion.
Best Vegetables: Eggplants, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas.
Spices and Herbs: Cumin, sesame seeds, sumak, thyme, dried marjoram,
Grains: Couscous, bulgur, rice, or flat bread.
Top up: Finish your dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fresh parsley or mint leaves. You can also serve your dish with hummus or grilled halloumi cheese.
Base: Use red, green, or yellow curry paste as a base for cooking. Add coconut milk for stews.
Best Vegetables: Paprika, eggplant, carrot, broccoli, leafy greens, green peas, spring onion.
Spices and Herbs: Ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, chili pepper (or use pre-made curry paste)
Grains: Jasmine rice or rice noodles
Top up: Finish your dish with few leaves of (Thai) basil or coriander, cashew nuts or peanuts, a squeeze of fresh lime juice.