Southern Italian cooking wastes nothing! Many dishes, in fact, use ingredients at one time that were discarded or deemed useless. The zucchini blossoms that fall off mature zucchini; why not use them to flavor fritters? Many greens, considered weeds in some cultures, are sauteed in olive oil with garlic and chilies…as they grow so close to the ground they are nutrient rich and full of iron.

One of my favorite stories is of the “Grano Arso”. In Puglia, before and after the war, the poor farm workers would take the leftover burnt wheat in the fields and grind it to make pasta. The distinctive black color identified it as “food of the poor” or “La Cucina Povera”. Today, Grano Arso pasta is found on some of the most sophisticated menus in Puglia!

Some modern day tips I use in my kitchen…..

  • I save the parmesan cheese rinds in the freezer until I make homemade soup and throw them in at the end for some delicious flavor
  • I always save leftover bread in a cool oven, I make homemade breadcrumbs or use it for stuffings and meatballs
  • I juice lemons used for zest before they dry up and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for later use
  • when I debone a chicken, I make stock from the bones and freeze for later use
  • we compost fruit and vegetable scraps for the garden but some will get tossed in a bag in the fridge for a stock flavoring; celery scraps, asparagus ends, woody mushroom stems
  • shellfish shells will be frozen for a seafood stock

Do you have any tips that save food waste? What is your favorite cooking, cost saving measure? Sometimes I improvise with limited ingredients and find an interesting use for something that I never imagined! This, my friends, is home cooking at it’s best!

Ciao for now, Natalina



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