Recently, we’ve been trying our best to provide tips and inspiration to help you reduce waste and create a more sustainable kitchen. And we know we aren’t the only ones! Our friend Sasha Swerdloff, the woman behind Tending the Table, is committed to living a more sustainable lifestyle too, and has graciously shared some of her wisdom with us.
Read on to hear her take on buying organic, buying local, and relying less on packaged foods. (And get her beautiful recipe for Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccini Alfredo with Almond Ricotta and Toasted Breadcrumbs.)
A few weeks ago my friend Sophie, of Wholehearted Eats, came down for a visit. While she was in town, we ate ice cream, walked in the park, and developed the recipe for this Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce for this pasta is pretty magical. Nutrient rich broccoli stems and nettles are blanched then blended with loads of lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt and high quality, extra virgin olive oil for a smooth and creamy pasta sauce perfect for spring. Continue reading for the recipe and some tips for purchasing packaged goods with sustainability in mind…
Last week I posted about my efforts to reduce plastic waste by limiting the amount of packaged food I buy. Eating a plant based diet means that I mostly stick to the produce sections, but there are also plenty of packaged foods that I buy on a regular basis (hot sauce, salsa, mustard, ketchup, tahini, miso, curry paste, oils and vinegars, tortillas, coconut milk, honey etc.) While I’m committed to reducing the amount of packaging I bring into my home by shopping at the farmer’s market, buying in bulk, and making things from scratch, I’ve also realized that there are many things that I don’t have the time, skills, or desire to make at home and that it’s just not realistic for me to eliminate packaged foods entirely. However, I can still choose which packaged foods I buy with sustainability in mind. Here are the three rules I try to follow when choosing which packaged foods to buy:
1. Materials matter.
Opt for paper, glass or aluminum over plastic (which can leach toxic chemicals into your food, often doesn’t actually get recycled, and takes hundreds of years to decompose). This might seem obvious, but it’s definitely easier said that done. So many things come in plastic packaging and it can be hard to find alternatives without compromising in other areas.
2. Choose organic.
Over the weekend I listened to this podcast all about pesticides, GMOs and the damage they can cause to the gut microbiome leading to all sorts of diseases and decreased overall health and well-being. It’s a terrifying yet inspiring look into our broken food system and I’d highly recommend it. After listening, you’ll never want to buy/eat conventional or GMO foods again.
3. Buy local.
Supporting local farmers and producers is a great way to support your local economy and sustainable and ethical practices. Small, local producers are often the ones innovating and thinking outside the box. They’re the ones building businesses that support the planet while promoting equitable and just communities. In addition, the transportation of food creates massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Buying locally can make a big difference when it comes to climate change.
What do you look for when purchasing packaged foods?
*This post was sponsored by California Olive Ranch. California Olive Ranch’s olive oil is single origin, cold pressed, and sold in dark glass bottles to ensure that it stays fresh. They grow non-gmo olives on family farms in California and employ a variety of sustainability practices including drip irrigation and integrated pest management techniques. You can learn more about their sustainability practices here. Thank you for supporting my work by supporting my sponsors. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo with Almond Ricotta and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Inspired by Milk Street Kitchen
FOR THE SAUCE
2 bunches broccoli
2 ½ cups fresh nettles, lightly packed (if you can’t find nettles, kale and spinach also work well)
Zest from ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE RICOTTA
1 cup blanched almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
FOR THE PASTA
1 lb. pasta
Toasted breadcrumbs and minced parsley for serving
FOR THE SAUCE
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. Peel the broccoli stems and cut into ½ inch rounds (you should have about 2 cups). Add the stems to the boiling water. Blanch the broccoli stems for 7-10 minutes, until very tender. Add the nettles to the pot and blanch for a few more minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli stems and nettles to the container of a high speed blender. Add the lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt and ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Blend on high until completely smooth. With the blender running at medium, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream to the sauce until emulsified and creamy.
FOR THE RICOTTA
Combine the soaked almonds and 3 cups filtered water in the container of a high speed blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds. Strain the milk through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a bowl. Tie up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the almond milk and save the rest for another use. Transfer the almond pulp to a medium bowl. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and reserved almond milk and stir well to combine. Set aside.
FOR THE PASTA
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta before returning it to the pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to evenly coat. Serve with dollops of ricotta, toasted breadcrumbs and minced parsley.
Thank you Sasha! For more recipes and tips on sustainable living and cooking, check out her blog at tendingthetable.com.
All photographs by Sasha Swerdloff.