In the interest of full disclosure, I missed watching Food Networks special show 'The Big Waste' and am scrambling to catch it in bits and pieces via YouTube.. Its shameful the amount of food that is discarded in what can only be described as cavalier. I remember getting quite shocked when watching Rachael Ray's show 30 minute meals & seeing her rrriiiip out 2 layers of onion before dicing. and Iron Chef America... don't even get me started!
Blame it on my Indian sense of thrift, but I'd always seen the papery layer peeled out carefully to retain the fleshy parts and just the bare minimum of the root end gouged out. Ditto with a multitude of other produce put to completely full use, peels, seeds, shoots, even the occasional coconut 'going south', you name it, there is quite possibly a wonderful dish centered around it.
Given the shocking statistics regarding food waste, I was quite curious to find out how my local grocey store Wegmans dealt with produce . I went about asking the gentleman at the ready cut produce counter what they did with the stems from cauliflowers and was quite delighted to find that they used the stems to make soup (or most probably, stock for the soup). Oh well, that just meant that I had to buy a whole head each of broccoli & cauliflower to get to this weeks recipe.
The cauliflower stem relish was a staple at home in Mumbai, cut into 'oh so tiny perfect cubes' by my foodie fanatic dad. I believe the original idea was from my uber thrifty grandmother. (She could drive everyone up the wall with her brand of 'reduce, reuse, recycle'.) The attention to detail showered on the knife work takes the final product up to a higher level. Yes, you could make easy work by simply shredding the center stem, but then, the textural aspect leaves a lot to be desired.
Quick Cauliflower stem relish
1 central core from a medium sized head of cauliflower
1 central core from a smallish head of broccoli
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon asafetida powder
1 tablespoon coarse black mustard powder
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sesame oil
Remove the 'branches' of the cores and peel the tough fibrous outer layer. Dice the crisp central 'marrow' into a uniform small dice to yield about 1 cup (8oz).
Add the salt and all the other ingredients except the lime juice and oil. Toss till the seasonings are dispersed evenly
Heat the sesame oil in a cast iron pan till it just starts smoking. Pour the hot oil right over the seasoned cauliflower/broccoli stem. The oil should be hot enough for the whole thing to sizzle loudly!
Stir in the oil to cover the produce and also cool slightly. Stir in the lime juice. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving as a condiment alongside rice, dal, or any traditional Indian curry.
Here's to creating great food from scrap! Bon appetit!
For more tips on minimizing food waste, take a look at this link