From Soil to City

Last night’s Sustainable Cooking with Sparkle Kitchen, the third installment in Local Roots’ cooking club series, was a hit! Not only did we wind up with a tasty meal, Sparkle Kitchen’s Brittany also showed us how to make the most of our produce in the kitchen. With just a few seasonal ingredients, we made three dishes—essentially every part of our produce was put to use!

So food waste… what’s the big deal? Well 25-40% of produce grown in the US never actually gets consumed ( Others estimate that up to half of what our farmers grow goes to waste somewhere along the food chain. What’s more, nearly 85% of food waste is on the consumer’s end. Yikes! Improper storage and inefficient usage are two major contributors to the food waste among home chefs, retailers, and restaurants. Though a serious issue, we can all make small steps towards helping reduce our waste with creative cooking techniques.

As local food enthusiasts, here at Local Roots NYC we want to make the most of the produce our farmers work so hard to grow. From field to fork, we strive to illuminate the integrity and hard work our farmers put into growing that food. Plus, we got the most value and flavor out of our wonderful CSA produce.

Starting with the prep for our vegan potato-carrot gratin (see recipe below), Brittany taught us some nifty knife tricks and the ins and outs of veggie scrap broth. A few things to remember:
No need to peel those potatoes, just give them a scrub and leave the skins on to get the most from your tubers (potato skins are a great source of fiber and vitamin C)
For more stable chopping of carrots and other root crops, slice one side of the produce to make it lie flat on the cutting board. We like having all ten fingers!
Keep a bowl for veggie scraps on hand—these scraps (including onion skins, carrot ends, etc.) can all be thrown in a pot with water to make your veggie scrap broth! Scrap broth is a great way to turn would-be compost into a usable kitchen staple. In fact, scrap broth was a crucial ingredient in our potato gratin!

With the gratin in the oven, we moved over to the kale station, where Brittany showed us how to get two dishes out of one green. For our kale salad, we started by stripping the stem from the leaf—save that stem though!
After tearing our leaves into bite-sized pieces, we massaged the kale Sound a little luxe for a salad? Rubbing handfuls of kale was actually very enjoyable; one CSA member called it “almost meditative.” Plus this 5-minute massage is crucial: Brittany explained that rubbing your greens with a little salt and cider vinegar not only makes them easier to chew, but also to digest!

As we took turns massaging, Brittany discussed proper food storage, as this is also a major source of kitchen waste. While hardier veggies such as squash can last on the counter for months just fine, others are best stored in the fridge. Even root veggies keep longer when stored in a cool, dry place. Your fruits will often also fare better kept in the fridge—just be sure to store fruits and veggies separately, as fruits give off a ripening agent that can spoil vegetables more quickly!

As a group, we made a dressing based on suggestions from the group. While we made a miso-sage-honey mustard salad dressing, Brittany took our saved stems over to the kitchen, where she diced them finely, adding salt, pepper, and a little olive oil, and put them on the stove to make braised kale stems.
After a brief sauté, Brittany left the stems on the stove for a low, slow braise. The result—a surprisingly flavorful and tender dish that uses every piece of our lovely leafy greens!

While the meal came together, we snacked on pickles we made from our recent Pickling Party—also a great way to make your bounty last into the next season. Slicing some local Roots NYC bread to compliment our dinner, we were ready to sit down to a delicious, waste-free meal! Talking about our passions (travel, wineries, and of course, food), our conversation took us in the direction of future cooking clubs. Keep your eyes out for club installments in the form of:
-Homemade kimchi!
-Homemade sauerkraut!
-Cheese making with your CSA milk share
-Sour dough bread baking with a lesson on starters
-Baking with your CSA fruit (read: pie)

Thanks to everyone who attended our sold out cooking club and the plentiful tips, Brittany ☺ Feeling the fomo? You can check her blog out here, and sign up for our next cooking club! You’ll make new friends, learn to cook in a fun setting, and eat really good food that you helped make! Check out pictures from our night here!

Potato and Carrot Gratin
Makes 6 servings.
​pounds ​
Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
​1 teaspoon olive oil​ for greasing casserole dish
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
​1 cup​
onion, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, very thinly sliced

Position rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease shallow 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole.
Pat potatoes dry with paper towels. Arrange half the potato slices in single layer over bottom of prepared casserole, overlapping slightly. Season with a little salt
​ and​
pepper. Sprinkle with half the chopped onion.
Add all carrot slices, overlapping slightly. Season with a little salt
​ and​
pepper; sprinkle with remaining onion. Top with remaining potato slices, overlapping slightly. Season with remaining salt
​ and​
Add enough broth to come three-quarters of the way up vegetables. Cover casserole with lid or foil and bake until potatoes are almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes more. Serve hot.