How To Make Vegetable Stock From Scraps

If you’re like us, you have difficulty throwing away “scraps” just because they don’t fit into your current recipe. However, we think that if it’s edible, it should be eaten! That’s why we wanted to review some of the best ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your My Food Box subscription. Consider this a mini-series. 

 

In this article, we will talk about vegetable stock – one of the easiest ways to repurpose your vegetable scraps is to make a veggie stock that you can reuse for cooking or making soup. The possibilities are endless. 

vegetable scraps

Your My Food Box subscription includes fresh produce, but what your recipe “needs” and what we provide you might not always line up and that’s why we are writing this for you! 

 

Even if you find yourself with just a few herb stems or one leftover bell pepper, it can (almost) all be used to make vegetable stock from scraps! 

 

If you don’t have enough scraps from one meal, don’t worry you can always freeze the vegetables until you have enough to make a stock. We keep all of our vegetable scraps in a gallon freezer bag and add to it every time we have extra. So eventually, we will have enough to make a stock!

 

Generally, the base of stock consists of celery, onion, garlic and carrot. The great thing is you don’t have to “prep” any of this. The only part of the carrot that can’t go in is the green part. The onions can go in with the skin and end on, and the celery can go in whole aside from the leaves. So that means the skins, roots and tops – everything except a leafy green like the top of a celery stalk or carrot. 

cut vegetables

We love the “toss it in whole” approach because it makes this recipe super easy, but if you have cut-up scraps like diced onion or mushroom stems, feel free to use those as well. 

 

Then add (almost) whatever else you have! Herbs (including stems), tomatoes, garlic cloves (skin can be on), mushrooms, peppercorns and corn cobs. The list goes on. Of course, the more of these ingredients you add, the more flavorful your stock will be. You can also add seasonings not just vegetables! For example, we like to add whole bay leaves, coriander and black peppercorns to our stock to give it an extra boost of flavor.

 

It’s important to note that some starchy vegetables could overwhelm your stock, so there are a few we recommend staying away from — squash, potatoes, beets, artichokes, green beans and brassicas like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.

 

Throw all your veggies scraps in water and boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. For vegetable stock, we recommend checking the flavor of your stock at 30 minutes but you can cook it for up to 3 hours. Unlike bone stock, longer isn’t ALWAYS better for vegetable stock so make sure you check the flavor regularly. 

how to make vegetable stock

Once your stock is finished, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. While it’s cooling, use a slotted spoon to remove all the vegetables from the stock. Once you do this, we recommend you strain it through a fine-mesh strainer to ensure that everything has been removed. 

 

You can store your stock in the fridge for up to a week or you can freeze it for three months! After that, you can keep it in glass containers or freezer bags, but we have found that it tends to thaw quicker when you store it in freezer bags. 

 

Now you have fresh vegetable stock to use in all your recipes, or you can make a soup with it! It’s nice to have this on hand because you can make more vegetarian dishes! 

 

So, you have stretched your dollar further, repurposed a piece of your My Food Box subscription and hopefully learned a little something in the kitchen. 

soup with stock

Our mission is at the intersection of sustainability and food accessibility and this vegetable stock is exactly that! We have repurposed vegetables and scraps that we would have otherwise thrown away, we have eliminated use of a carton by not buying a stock from the store and created something delicious in the process. 

 

Stay tuned for our next article on how to grow vegetables from scraps. 

How To Grow Vegetables From Scraps

One of the easiest and best ways to make the most out of your vegetables is to re-grow them. It’s one of the best ways to make your dollar go further while minimizing food waste. Of course, we always try to get the most out of all of our groceries and vegetables and fruits make it easy!

 

If you’re part of our My Food Box subscription, then you know that the produce we provide varies in each box. Sometimes you’ll be able to use all of it in your recipes and sometimes you might find yourself with a little extra and right before it goes bad – don’t worry, it happens to all of us. 

 

Luckily, many of the things included in My Food Box can be re-grown and eaten again. It’s so convenient and also helps you know you don’t waste a dime while feeding yourself or your family. 

 

One of the biggest benefits of growing your own vegetables from scraps is that you ensure that you always have these items on hand! Think of how convenient it would be to shop for produce. And in your own home!

 

There are more than 25 fruits and vegetables you can grow from scrap and we will try and group them together to make it more digestible (get it?).

Root Vegetables

When we think of root vegetables, we think of things like onion, garlic, beets, potatoes and carrots. Root vegetables are ideal for re-growing because there is no guesswork where the roots will come out. Ingredients like onion and garlic are very common in a lot of our recipes, so it’s nice to have them on hand whenever we need them. Plus, we know that they are grown without pesticides and other chemicals. 

 

Most root vegetables are propagated by cutting off the “top” or root and either planting it in soil or putting it in water. Onions, for example, can be planted directly in the soil and new bulbs will begin to grow while green onions do better in water. Green onions are the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to growing vegetables from scrap. 

 

Potatoes can be placed whole in the ground or you can suspend them in water until roots sprout. The green offshoots can then be transplanted to a garden and will make their very own potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be propagated similarly, although after you see how beautiful the sweet potato vines are, you might consider just keeping them as decor. 

Since we live in Colorado, you will be able to grow these vegetables indoor in the winter as well! Keep them away from cool drafts and in a sunny spot and they will thrive. There’s nothing better than having a year-round garden!

 

how to grow potatoesLeafy Greens

 

Leafy greens like cabbage, lettuce, fennel and box choy can all be re-grown from their base as well as celery and lemongrass. We love re-growing leafy greens from scraps because they grow so quickly and can feasibly replenish before the next time we need them.

 

If you have an old head of lettuce or cabbage, all you need to do is cut off the bad parts and leave about one to two inches above the base. Then you put it in a shallow dish with water and in just a few days you will see new growth! Immediate gratification can be nice and growing leafy greens from scraps will give you exactly that. Plus, they will just keep re-growing until you don’t want them anymore, so it’s a very sustainable veggie to grow in your home. 

 

If you are trying to have leafy greens year-round, then it’s best to keep them indoor as opposed to taking them outside during the warmer months. 

 

Fruits

It’s not just vegetables you can grow from scraps, you can repurpose your fruits as well! After all, most of the produce that we eat came from seeds at one point – it only makes sense that we can repurpose the seeds we get from our fruits. Cherries, apples, peaches, lemons, pumpkins and tomatoes are all examples of fruits that you can re-grow. 

 

Other than cherries, all you have to do is remove the seeds from the fruit and allow them to dry completely before planting them in the soil. Remember that fruit trees do not produce fruit in the same year that they are first grown, so planting fruit is a more long-term commitment. It’ll be worth it in a couple of years when you have your very own peach tree though. Cherries need to have their pits germinate for 12 weeks which can be done by potting them in tight soil and refrigerating them. 

 

An exception to the seed rule is pineapple which can be re-grown by cutting the top off and either suspending it above water or planting it directly in the soil. Generally speaking, most things prefer to be planted in soil because of all the nutrients it provides. 

 

Herbs

While herbs can technically be considered leafy greens, we think they deserve their own category because they serve a completely different purpose and you re-grow them differently than the other greens we mentioned. Herbs like basil, cilantro and rosemary can all be re-grown so that you can have your own indoor herb garden. All you have to do is make sure you have at least 3-4 inches of the stem that you can place in water, ideally in a window sill or somewhere with similar light. 

 

After a few weeks, you will notice small roots shooting out from the stem, and once those appear, you are clear to replant them in soil. You’ll see that these will grow fairly quickly so you’ll be able to have your first harvest sooner rather than later. You can grow these inside year-round so you always have herbs available.

grow herbs inside

We hope this article gave you all the tips and tricks you need to start re-growing your vegetable scraps. Maximize your dollar and minimize food waste. We consider that a win-win!

Grandma’s Buttery Smashed Potatoes Recipe

Recipe By: Chef Elly Vos

Ready in 40 minutes, Serves 6-8

Ah, the potato! The amazing, delicious, hearty, versatile, affordable…

 

Okay, we’ll stop, we just really like potatoes! There’s the russet potato, Yukon gold potato, sweet potato, red potato – you get it. The variety of potatoes is what makes them such a consistent staple in so many meals! In fact, they even make whole meals – just like this recipe can.

 

There is the age-old debate of, “What are the top 3 forms of potato?”. Well, of all the people we asked, almost all of them included mashed potatoes as one of their top contenders. Mashed potatoes are a must-have at almost every holiday meal and they make a great go-to for meal prep.

 

The Co-Op at 1st cares about offering quality meals for the pre-made meals in their My Food Box subscription which is why they have Chef Elly leading their kitchen. She is versed in multiple culinary styles and prides herself on creating sustainable, affordable meals for the Denver community. A lot of her influence comes from her family just like this delicious Buttery Smashed Potatoes recipe. 

 

Chef Elly says, “My great-grandma showed me how to make mashed potatoes as a small child. She peeled hers back then, but as a lazy cook, I modified her recipe to include the skins. These potatoes are served great on their own or alongside grilled asparagus and a medium-rare steak.”

 

So really we know two things: 1) The potato is a superior ingredient and we love it in all its forms and varieties and 2) Never question great grandma’s recipes, especially Chef Elly’s. Thankfully for the rest of us, she has decided to share her family secrets with the world. 

 

These smashed potatoes are simple to make, very filling, and are amazing leftovers! You might even add them to your breakfast burrito for a fresh twist on hash browns – we won’t judge you either way. Actually, we support you.

 

It’s important to remember to wash your potatoes before cooking them or eating them. Just like any other produce you buy, potatoes can accumulate dirt, small pests, or other organic matter during harvest and transportation. Scrub them, don’t just rinse them. Potato skins absorb a lot – luckily for us that includes flavor!

 

This leads us to another reminder that skins add flavor and not peeling the potatoes saves time. To make this recipe easier and more delicious, just cut the potatoes into equal size pieces before cutting them and the rest is easy as (potato) pie.

 

We have traditionally made this recipe with russet potatoes but if you have a strong preference towards another type of potato, then we say go for it! We support and love all potatoes and think it’s nice when every-spuddy gets included. In fact, we’d love to know what you think with or without substitutions – we are always eager to hear feedback from our Colorado community.

 

If you are short on some of the ingredients for this recipe (there are only a few), head over to our indoor, year-round farmers market at 1st and Sheridan to stock up on all your grocery needs. Or if you are short on time and need a more convenient option, you can sign up for our food box subscription here.

 

Check out this delicious, buttery, can’t-resist recipe below!

buttery smashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium russet potatoes (scrubbed)
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼  teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
  • ¼  teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

Preparation

  1. Cut potatoes into ½ inch circles then into 8 pie-shaped pieces. Cut all the potatoes into a similar size.
  2. Place potatoes into a deep pan and add cold water just covering them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat until the potatoes are fork-tender. 20-30min ish. Strain the potatoes into a colander/ strainer.
  3. Put the strained potatoes back into the pan (off heat) and add salt, ½ the butter, and milk.
  4. Use a hand masher or electric mixer to mash the potatoes leaving a few small potato chunks.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in the remaining butter and add pepper.
  6. Taste your smashed potatoes and see if it needs more salt, pepper or butter. Add as needed.

 

If you liked this recipe, share an image on social! We’d love to see our community enjoying the recipes that come out of our kitchen. 

Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu Recipe

Recipe By: Chef Elly Vos
Ready in 1 hour, Serves 2 

“Don’t forget-ta the polenta!” – A lot of people. Just trust us.

 

Polenta is a hearty, delicious dish that has served as a staple in Italian culture for many years. Because of its simple yet filling nature, Chef Elly at The Co-Op at 1st decided to make it a staple in her recipe book as well!

 

What makes polenta so great is its versatility. It can be flavored with a ton of different toppings but to make it a truly filling meal, Chef Elly has devised the perfect combination of ingredients to fuel your body for the days to come. Yep, it’s really THAT good! 

 

Chef Elly creates the pre-made meals which are included in the co-op food box (known as My Food Box), so you can try a few of her amazing recipes when you order delivery or pick up for your food box at The Co-Op at 1st (located on 1st near Sheridan). She believes in meals that can last longer than just one meal which is why this polenta is her go-to. After a few bites, you’ll understand what makes this dish the gift that keeps on giving! 

 

Polenta can serve as a wonderful, creamy base for just about any type of food! You can top it with steak, eggs, or in this case, a delicious mushroom Ragu. Another great thing about polenta is the ingredients are all affordable and accessible – most of them can be found at our indoor, year-round farmers market.

 

One of the things that makes this recipe so delicious is its thoughtful blend of tastes and textures. The oregano, basil, and thyme create a classically intriguing aroma while the meaty texture of mushrooms and tomatoes are perfectly balanced by the creamy polenta and tender kale.

 

It’s important to note that if you are storing leftovers of this recipe, you will want to put the Ragu and the polenta in separate containers. Better yet, re-purpose these leftovers for your next meal! Ragu is the perfect addition to a pasta dish, and polenta pairs well with eggs and/or fried in a skillet with some butter. Whichever way you use them, these are the leftovers that you’ll want for yourself. 

 

This recipe is approachable for any level of chef, whether you are a beginner or a pro like Chef Elly. Enjoy it while it’s hot and let us know what other types of recipes you’d like to see from her!

 

Now without further adieu, check out Chef Elly’s amazing Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu (that rhymed) recipe:

creamy polenta with mushroom ragu

Ingredients

For Polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Ragu

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12-15 mushrooms washed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 10 fresh tomatoes diced OR 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch kale washed, destemmed, torn, and massaged
  • 1/2 lemon juiced

Preparation

  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet and add the olive oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the diced onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, allow the onions to gently brown. About 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Add the garlic and allow it to cook until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. About 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the basil, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste. Stir until well combined and allow to cook until the tomato paste becomes a dark red. About 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the mushrooms. Stir until well coated. 
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes. The sauce should thicken as the liquid from the tomatoes cooks off. Season with salt and pepper to taste throughout the simmering process. 
  6. While the Ragu is simmering, prepare the kale. I highly recommend massaging the kale before adding it to the Ragu, It will make it more tender and less bitter. To massage the kale, crunch the torn leaves with your hands. The kale will become darker and less rigid. With five minutes remaining in the cooking process, add the fresh lemon juice and the massaged kale. 

For the Polenta

  1. Bring the water and milk to a boil in a heavy-duty saucepan or small Dutch oven. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Gradually sprinkle the cornmeal into the pan while whisking at the same time. Turn the heat to a very low simmer, cover, and continue to cook the polenta for 25 – 30 minutes, until it’s thick, fluffy, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. When it’s done, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and additional salt to taste if needed.

Serve in small bowls with a bottom layer of polenta. Spoon the mushroom and kale Ragu over the polenta. Serve garnished with fresh parsley, parmesan, and crushed red pepper. 

For more recipes like this, keep checking our blog, follow us on social or enjoy our pre-made meals through our My Food Box subscription!

 

Breakfast Burrito Recipe

Recipe By: Chef Elly Vos

You’ve heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! While we like all meals equally, we do agree that breakfast is not a meal to miss. 

When it comes to breakfast, a burrito is about as nourishing and filling as it gets – it’s the perfect meal to fuel you throughout your day (especially with how Chef Elly makes it). 

breakfast burrito

Chef Elly spearheads the pre-made meal program through the My Food Box subscription, so you can expect to see delicious recipes like this (maybe even this one) when you get your weekly delivery or pick up your food box at The Co-Op at 1st (near Sheridan). She has traveled around the world and is now developing delicious recipes that serve the Denver community. She is an experienced chef who prides herself on developing robust taste profiles while creating sustainable, healthy meals. 

She says, “Breakfast burritos are popular in my family. They are easy to make and can serve the whole family or just one person. Change up the fillings if you want. Craving bacon or spam instead of breakfast sausage, do it! Want to make it a lunch or dinner burrito? Substitute grilled garlic, peppers, onions, and steak to the tomato, beans, and corn mix for breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs.”

So what makes a good breakfast burrito? Obviously, you’re going to need a tortilla. But we all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

This burrito is the perfect blend of creamy, crispy and meaty textures. It includes corn, lettuce and green onion for a little crunch while infusing a delicious blend of flavors like cumin, cayenne, paprika and chili pepper. The beans, meat and egg work together to deliver a satisfying, hearty experience with every bite. The tomato adds a refreshing twist to the otherwise savory mixture. 

Finish off your burrito filling with some cheese and sour cream and BAM! Now you have a delicious, nutritious breakfast that will easily get you through your morning. 

One of the great things about this recipe is it is super easy to make for a larger group of people or for meal prep for the week. It is packed full of all the nutrients you need to start your day and it’s short prep and cook time make it a go-to for parents and singles alike. 

For the purposes of this recipe, we use canned beans, tomatoes and corn but feel free to substitute as desired – especially if you get some delicious goodies from our My Food Box subscription. For a low-calorie alternative, substitute a piece of lettuce for the tortilla.

food box subscription

The beauty of this breakfast burrito recipe is it is as filling as it is easy! See below for a full ingredient and preparation list. 

Ingredients

  • Flour tortillas, 1 per burrito
  • 1  15oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can kernel corn, drained
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon cayenne
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage tube
  • 1 egg per burrito, scrambled
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Sour cream – 1 dollop per burrito
  • Green onion, diced
  • Cheddar cheese – a sprinkle per person

Preparation

  1. Drain black beans, diced tomatoes, and kernel corn in a colander.
  2. Place the beans, tomatoes, and corn In a large saucepan over medium heat. Add all of the spices and mix. Cook covered for 5 min and uncovered for 10 min. Stir often (The mix shouldn’t be too wet or bone dry).
  3. In seperate saute pan cook breakfast sausage until browned.
  4. Make scrambled eggs: Break eggs into bowl, wisk. In a separate saute pan over medium low heat add tbsp of butter. Melt then add in eggs. Wait for the edges of the egg in the pan to solidify then push them into the center. Gently mix the egg until the egg is cooked.
  5. Place a tortilla in a large saute pan and cover. Cook for 2 min over low heat. You want the tortilla to be warm and malleable. Or, put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Overcooking the tortilla will make it very hard to fold.
  6. Once all the ingredients are prepared, place the empty tortilla on a plate. Smear the center with sour cream, then a bit of cheese. Add a scoop of  bean/tomato/ corn mix, breakfast sausage, and egg to the tortilla. Top with a bit more cheese, lettuce, and sprinkle green onions on top. Mix together.
  7. To roll a burrito follow this HuffPost tutorial
  8. Place folded side down onto empty saute pan to grill closed (about 3 min over medium-low heat). Gently roll the burrito over and grill the top until golden brown.
  9. Enjoy.

Tips

The bean/tomato/corn mix can be used at a later date for more burritos or another recipe. I like to have it for dinner with a side of rice.

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