Dry vegetable curry with cauliflower leaves & stems

One way to minimize waste is to have a few go-to recipes for the unused odds and bits that accumulate in the vegetable crisper. One of mine is dry vegetable curry. It’s a quick and tasty way to cook up whatever vegetables you have on hand.

This past the weekend I made some roasted cauliflower florets, which meant that I had a cauliflower stem and some cauliflower leaves to use up – and those made up the bulk of my most recent dry curry. I also threw in a couple of carrots, mushrooms, and plum tomatoes, as well as a few green beans and part of an onion.

In case you’ve spent your life blithely throwing away cauliflower stems and leaves, let me just point out a few things:

  • Cauliflower stems and leaves are food.
  • My most recent cauliflower weighed about 2 lbs 9 oz, and of that 9 ounces was made up of stem and leaves. That’s 22% of the cauliflower. If you’ve spent your life throwing these parts away (and if we use that 22% as an average), then for every 9 cauliflowers you’ve ever bought, you’ve thrown away 2 cauliflowers worth of perfectly usable food that you paid for. You probably don’t do this with donuts. Or socks.
  • Cauliflower stems may be less pretty than florets, but they taste similar, and are very tender. I usually just cut the big central stem in half, then cut those halves into slices.
  • Cauliflower leaves are very tender and thin at the tips, and cook up like any leafy green. Near the base, the leaves are more like cabbage, but more watery (which balances hot spices nicely) and not as tough.

I served this week’s dry curry with some turmeric rice and watermelon rind chutney (which we’re close to running out of). Easy. Tasty.

Dry vegetable curry (for 1)

Dry vegetable curry

Ingredients

  • Enough oil to grease your skillet
  • 1 cup mixed chopped vegetables
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • ¾ tsp dry curry mix (see below)

Dry curry mix (these days)

  • 2 parts cumin
  • 2 parts paprika
  • 2 parts turmeric
  • 2 parts mustard powder
  • 1 part garam masala
  • 1 part cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 part cinnamon
  • 1 part brown sugar
  • 1 part salt (or to taste)

Directions

Sauté the vegetables over medium heat in oil until just shy of desired tenderness. OK, this is vague, but the timing depends on the vegetables you use, the size you cut them, and how tender you like them. Also, you’ll want to add things that take longer to cook a little earlier. I like my vegetables crunchy, so this step usually takes me 4 or 5 minutes.

Add in the garlic and ginger, and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.

Add in the tamarind paste (or lemon), vinegar, and dry curry spice mix, and stir until vegetables are coated.

Serve.

Fun facts
Annual per capita demand for cauliflower in the US 1.7 lbs
Total annual demand for cauliflower in the US 264,853 short tons
Unnecessary food waste created if no one in the US eats cauliflower stems & leaves (assuming they represent 22% of mass of cauliflowers) 58,267 short tons
Equivalent number of 2lb 9oz cauliflowers 45,476,682
Cargo mass of a Boeing 747-8F 295,800 lbs
Minimum number of Boeing 747-8Fs needed carry all that waste 394

Stone soup dahl

About a month ago, I wrote an entry on what I call stone soup. The recipe in that entry is simple:

…whenever I peel or chop vegetables or meats, I toss any bits that would usually be destined for the compost or garbage bin into a colander, wash them, then put them in a container in the freezer.  When I want to make stock, I throw the stone-like frozen scraps into water and boil.

As one friend noted, though, “Ive started my stone soup freezer bag! Once you start, it grows quickly!” Very quickly – and the challenge is to find varied ways to use up all that stock (we end up making about 8 cups of it every weekend). Last week, I did something based on this great dahl recipe from  Wolfgang Puck, and it’s definitely a keeper.

For the version I made, I used brown lentils, rather than orange ones – and stone soup stock rather than chicken stock. The stock that week was made with a healthy amount of beet peelings, and was dark colored with earthy tones, which worked perfectly in this recipe. I served the dahl with some homemade dosa (a rice and lentil batter pancake), kale salad, a spicy coleslaw, and some watermelon rind chutney – a satisfying, warming meal.

One thing to note: unless you’re catering a wedding, I suggest that you make about a quarter of the recipe at the link. That makes about 4 normal sized servings.