There are quite a few cookbooks out there dedicating themselves to the topic of zero waste or specifically eleminating food waste in your home. When I pick up one of those books I am often hopeful to learn something new, get a new inspiration on how to tackle food waste in my home more creatively. However I am mostly disappointed when I flick through some of those books and see long lists of ingredients. I close the book with an enervated sigh and put it back on the shelf. I simply don't see what makes it different from any other cookbook. When trying to save something from perishing I don't want a long list of things I have to go out and buy.
More and more often my go-to sources are cookbooks that intrigue me with their simplicity. Nothing can be more captivating than using only a handful of ingredients and combining them in an unexpected way. Sometimes it can be one ingredient that is used in a slightly different manner, using a different technique or pairing it with another ingredient I have not considered before. Nigel Slater is a good source, a lesser-known (at least internationally) is the book by Risa Nagahama and her partner renowned food photographer Jörg Lehmann. Their book Easy Peasy came out two years ago and they really master the art of creating stunning dishes using as little as 2 and up to 8 ingredients. I love the elegant and minimalist style of Risa's dishes. Some of the ingredients might be a little bit difficult to source if you don't happen to live in a metropolitan area, however I find the book subtly encourages you to find substitutes and inspires to experiment. So far the book has only been published in German, yet I don't see a reason why it might not inspire you to learn another language. I have forgotten most of my French, but sometimes a beautiful picture of a dish has inspired me so much that I sat down and translated it.
Bread is probably the ultimate contender for food being thrown. What I do far too seldomly is turn dry bread into croutons, maybe because it is so obvious? Easy Peasy focuses mainly on fresh fruit and vegetables, but there is one recipe that is simple to prepare and is perfect for using up old bread. A soup made from tinned tomatoes, jazzed up with a condiment and the croutons! What are you using croutons for apart from soups and salads?
Most of the dishes in Easy Peasy are given rather endearing names rather than calling it what it is. The Queen in Japan (for a porridge with matcha tea) or August the Great (for a salad of melons and tomatoes dressed with an oil made off puréed black olives and olive oil). The soup is actually called Five Minutes in Bangkok, because in Easy Peasy they use a condiment with Thai flavours. The book names Harissa as an alternative, which I used instead. I have also made a little adaption by using chopped parsley instead of the thyme, because that’s what I had on hand. So I decided to call it Five Minutes in Tunis, because that’s where they apparently have the spiciest type of Harissa.
Five minutes in Tunis
800 g of tinned tomatoes
1 dry bread roll
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1-2 tablespoons Harissa paste (or another spicy condiment of your choice)
chopped parsley for garnish
Halve the dry bread roll horizontally and rub both halves with the garlic. Slice into small cubes. Put some olive oil into a pan and roast the bread until nicely toasted. Purée the tomatoes in a food processor or with a handheld blender and heat in a saucepan. Mix in the Harissa and season to taste. Serve sprinkled with the parsley and croutons.