Let’s be honest – none of us is perfect. Including the vegetables we so carefully nurture in our gardens. But why should the forked carrot, the split beet or the knobby tomato be shunned in favor of their more perfect counterparts?
The French started a national campaign several years ago called “The Inglourious Fruit.” It was a public relations campaign to get French citizens to slow food waste by purchasing and eating those fruits and vegetables that are not perfect. These were discounted in grocery stores and markets, and the campaign was a huge success. There are several companies in the US that do the same – ship not-so-perfect vegetables and fruits for a fee.
What a wonderful testament to humans – that we really do care about reducing food waste and feeding our bodies with healthy vegetables and fruits. I’ve made a promise to myself to try to use the oddballs in the garden and as much of every vegetable as I can.
While a chopped up tomato with the ugly parts removed may not make the best presentation, it still tastes just as good as a pristine heirloom. And face it, have you ever seen a perfect Brandywine tomato?
Use those misfits in sauce
Instead of discarding the chard leaves that have been somewhat chewed, I throw them in a bag in the freezer to add to a “glut” sauce or to make vegetable broth. I’ve seen recipes where cilantro stems, carrot tops, cucumber peelings can be pureed and frozen to use in soups in the winter.
One of my favorite things to do at this lush time of year when produce is absolutely overwhelming is make “glut” sauce. I put whatever is coming in, especially those imperfect vegetables, into a large roaster with herbs and garlic and roast until everything is soft. It then gets pureed or milled pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce base.
Here’s a great recipe to use those imperfect tomatoes and eggplants. And the recipe lends itself to whatever you have in the garden
Roasted eggplant and tomato soup
1 cup roasted eggplant (any type of eggplant, peel if the skin is tough)
1 cup roasted tomatoes
½ cup roasted onions
1-2 cloves roasted garlic
½ c. unsweetened coconut milk
½ c. vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Herbs of choice
You can put eggplant, tomatoes, onions and garlic in one roasting pan. Drizzle with olive and roast at 375 degrees until quite soft and beginning to caramelize. Mix all ingredients together and puree. Serve hot or cold. Drizzle with sriracha and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt if you choose.