If you live in Washington, D.C., and have looked into reducing food waste in your kitchen, you’ve probably heard of Hungry Harvest. The fresh grocery delivery service finds homes for surplus, “ugly” and otherwise rejected foods in the region. Of course, EatOrToss is all about loving the foods that don't look quite as you expect, so I was thrilled when Hungry Harvest recently gifted a "mini box" to EoT headquarters. Thanks HH!
So, what do you get when you combine one box of rescued produce with the meal flow dynamic of the EatOrToss kitchen? Especially when there is still food left over from Thanksgiving? And Hanukkah is about to start? Read on!
Chapter 1: The box arrives
The box arrives at my front door. What a pretty haul! I can’t figure out what might have caused these items to be rejected. Maybe the carrots aren’t straight enough? One of the red peppers has some scars, and another is a little oddly shaped (but nothing like this character I once wrote about). The potatoes, snow peas, greens, apples, grape tomatoes and blackberries all look great. I’m excited to play with them all!
Chapter 2: The elegant holiday meal
It’s Hanukkah, so how perfect that Hungry Harvest sent me three potatoes! Combined with some other potatoes I had left over from Thanksgiving and an onion, I had the makings of a latke dinner. The oil-fried potato pancakes are traditional during the holiday, a reference to the small amount of oil that miraculously kept a flame burning for eight days at the holy temple in Jerusalem.
But… I wasn’t really in the mood for frying. I found an oven baked latke recipe (still using oil, so still on-holiday, phew) and made my first batch of latkes ever.
Our box also contained ingredients for a simple fresh salad; after a quick chop, the greens, tomatoes, and red peppers were a bright foil to the latkes.
To bring the salad together, and to finally use the last bits of ketchup and BBQ sauce clinging to some bottles in our fridge, I opted for a “Last Remnants” dressing. Shaking oil and vinegar in the bottles helped loosen the last bits. I mixed the ketchup and BBQ harvest with some mayo and viola, salad dressing.
Latkes are traditionally served with sour cream and apple sauce. We had jarred apple sauce, but with three beautiful apples (just sporting some harmless russeting) in my Hungry Harvest box, I wanted to give them extra prominence on our table. I squeezed in juice from lemons left over from Thanksgiving, dropped in some cubes of butter, sprinkled it all with cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves and slipped them into the oven for some cozy baked apples. I put the apple cores and lemon husks in a bag in the freezer—they'll help make a great shrub sometime soon.
Some leftover salmon added the protein to make our latke, salad and baked apple extravaganza a well-rounded meal. Just like the oil kept burning for seven nights, the latkes saw us through many more meals during the week. Chag sameach!
Chapter 3: Breakfast on the go
The Hungry Harvest blackberries were great with yogurt and a shake of spices in the morning. The serving pictured below, about to accompany me to work, also has a dollop of this Cuban riff on cranberry sauce that we had left over from Thanksgiving. I sprinkled cinnamon and turmeric on, just to keep things interesting. On another day, my blackberry yogurt came served atop the final crumbles of an apple pie.
Chapter 4: Upcycled leftovers night
One night, after a long day at work, I didn’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen. I looked to the freezer. Staring back was a frozen jumble of pasta with red sauce and red potatoes we had recently rescued from a catered dinner. A good start, but we needed more veggies. Veggies like the grape tomatoes that came in my Hungry Harvest box. Perfect.
I sautéed the tomatoes, along with the final handfuls from a clamshell of spinach, and stirred them into the pasta and potato melangé. The, I added a tin of smoked oysters—including the oil—for some protein. Now that things were getting smoky, I added some smoked paprika to help all the components speak the same flavor language.
This all may sound kind of weird, but the result was exactly the kind of tasty, hot, comfy nourishment we were in the mood for. We called it “smoky mush.”
Chapter 5 - Clean out the fridge fried rice
After a busy week with many evenings out (shout out to My So Called Jewish Life at Sixth and I and The People’s Hanukkah Party), we still had some of our box contents in the fridge. No matter—I had selectively set aside the carrots, snow peas and remaining red peppers because I knew they’d stay good for a bit.
These were also quite possibly some of the most visually interesting characters in the box. One of the peppers had scars kind of like mini versions of the scar I wrote about on this eggplant. My guess is that it may have been roughed up a bit during the harvest leading to wounds that fully healed (and are totally fine to eat!).
The carrots were a bit bumpy and not perfectly straight, but that doesn’t matter. Curiously, they also had an interesting green ring on the inside. I can’t quite explain what’s going on, but the green color reminded me of an earlier post on green carrot tops, and I’m going to investigate. In the meantime though, I was happy to work them into dinner.
And, finally, the snow peas. They looked great, but also had this interesting white mottled pattern. It didn’t concern me, but I did photograph them, because I’d like to learn more and write about that white stuff.
The red peppers, carrots and snow peas, combined with a red onion, the leafy inner portion of a celery bunch, some soy sauce packets (from a previous sushi takeout order) and some of the Last Remnants dressing from our Hanukkah feast had the makings of fried rice. I sautéed all the veggies together, made a pot of rice and scrambled in some eggs. Dinner was served.
Thanks again Hungry Harvest for a week of eating “ugly” and eating well!