Read this cookbook: “Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty” by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong (Grand Central Publishing, $35)
By Wendell Brock
Mads Refslund grew up in Denmark, where prolonged, bleak winters inspire clever habits of preserving, saving and recycling food.
“It is normal to eat all parts and scrapes, wasting little,” the Danish chef writes in his new book. “So maybe it’s more about a way of life that makes people feel rich, turning garbage into gold.”
Such a background makes Refslund, a co-founder of the wildly influential Copenhagen restaurant Noma, an ideal spokesman for food-waste awareness and the so-called Trash Cooking Movement.
The stats are startling: In America alone, 40 percent of food goes uneaten each year. That’s a staggering $162 billion in trash that ends up in landfills and incinerators, taking a heavy toll on the environment.
This book tells you how to turn every lettuce leaf, apple peel and fish bone into the stuff of culinary discovery.
Perhaps you throw coffee grounds away every day. Did you know they can be repurposed as biscotti, ice cream, panna cotta and other edibles?
Oddments of fruits, vegetables, grains, seafood, and so forth that we normally discard: All all ripe for transforming into salsas, vinaigrettes, dried snacks, chips, salads, veggie burgers, pasta, pesto, dumplings, rice dishes, infused oils, vinegars, garnishes, powders, teas, sweets and cocktails.
Just look at lettuce: 1 billion pounds are tossed every year. Why not blend that lackluster Romaine into luscious salad dressing, shred imperfect iceberg into taco toppings or puree your abandoned Bibb into creamy soups?
“Scraps, Wilt + Weeds” is smartly organized into sections based on ingredients and comes with candid comments from its recipe testers. So if you’re wondering what to do with leftover beet, carrot and citrus pulp, cheese rinds, spent herbs and fish heads, the answers are here.
Do some of the recipes sound weird? Absolutely. But much more common are beautiful, vibrant solutions on how to honor that eternal adage: Waste not, want not. And eat like a Nordic superstar chef while you’re at it.
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).