Do you know the saying, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach?” That’s how I feel when I shop at the farmers’ market in the summer. Everything looks good so I overbuy; then I’m desperately trying to use up the produce before they go bad.
I don’t like to waste money, but equally abhorrent is to waste the resources required to produce nutritious food—the depletion of the land, the labor of the farmers, the energy required for production and transportation—only to toss the results into the compost bin.
One way I try to stay ahead of the game is by making a list of the produce as I transfer them from my farmers’ market carryall into my refrigerator. This gives me an inventory of what needs to be used and I start with the most fragile stuff first. I also try to store each vegetable properly and bag all the leafy vegetables in twist-tied plastic bags so they don’t dry out in the fridge.
I keep a mental list of ways to use leftover bits and pieces of produce—that one remaining zucchini, extra chard or the veggies that are starting to look past their prime. My go-to dishes include vegetable soup, fried rice, and vegetable omelets.
One of my favorite ways to use up vegetables is in pita pizzas. You could make your own pizza dough from scratch or buy prepared dough, but really, if all you’re trying to do is salvage produce, it’s easiest to use a flatbread, such as pita bread, and pile all the repurposed goodies on top.
- Pita bread is easy to store in the freezer to have at the ready. To defrost, lay the circles on a cookie rack for better air circulation, and they will thaw quickly.
- I used to split pita bread in half lengthwise, making two circles, but now I just use the pita whole, which makes for a sturdier crust. Split it if you prefer a thin, crispy-crusted pizza and decrease both the amount of toppings (or pizza will sag when you eat it) and the cooking time.
- Crank up the oven to 425°F. and bake pizzas for about 8 minutes until heated through.
Recently, I made dinner out of a variety of pita pizzas. One used sautéed strips of leftover kale, sautéed sliced onion, cross-cut slices of fresh figs and feta cheese, dribbled with a little garlic oil over the top before baking. I made another one with the lone eggplant remaining after having stir-fried the rest. I sliced it and fried it in olive oil first, browned some leftover sausage, laid the eggplant and sausage over a smear of pesto sauce and topped it with some shredded Cheddar cheese, having shredded more than I needed for mac and cheese the night before.
What orphan vegetables are in your fridge today, that can be transformed into delicious pita pizzas tomorrow?
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