I'm not ashamed of my frugality, not one bit. (If I were, I wouldn't be having this blog...)
In fact, I take pride in the fact that I live within my means. I take pride in the fact that I prevent nutritious foods from entering landfills, and instead use it to make my family delicious food. I take price in the fact that I mange to strike lots of bargains and get many things free. I take pride in my ability to make do and for not being "high maintenance."
And that's why, when I go to the farmers' market, and I see the vendors throwing out food that is totally nutritious and edible, just because most people either don't know what to do with it, or can't be bothered to do something with it, I have no problem walking up to the vendors and saying "Hey, were you about to throw that out?" When they confirm that, I say "Can I have it?" and they are totally cool with that, but wondering why I would want it... And then little old ladies who see that exchange look at me with a smile, because they, too, often know what its like to be frugal and to save every last drop of edible food, often because they grew up during the great depression or because they grew up in times of war. They start telling me "You know, you can cook that by..." and I start jotting down their suggestions in my mental recipe book and file them away for future use.
Last time I was in the market, the vendors were tossing out a ton of cauliflower leaves and stems that they hacked off the cauliflower bulbs. I knew they were edible, so I came home with a massive bag filled with those leaves... and then tried to figure out what to do with them.
Upon googling "Cauliflower leaf recipes" I came across this site, which included a recipe for cauliflower leaf pakoras, which are naturally gluten free and vegan. (Pakoras are Indian style fritters.) I made my recipe based on what they had there, with lots of changes, of course.
You can make these pakoras with any greens you have, whether collard greens, mustard greens, kale, broccoli leaves, swiss chard, or of course, cauliflower leaves. I've also included a variation that is not gluten free, and therefore uses no specialty ingredients, and is also cheaper. The gluten free variation is high in protein (making these a full meal), though, while the other is not.
2 cups chickpea flour and
1/4 cup rice flour
OR 2 1/4 cup whole wheat or regular all purpose flour
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 dashes hot pepper flakes (optional)
Cauliflower leaves, broccoli leaves, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens (This amount of batter was enough to coat a whole large mixing bowl full of leaves.)
Oil for frying
1. If your leaves are attached to their stalk like mine were, remove them from the stalk with a knife. Soak them to remove all dirt and bugs, then wash well.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, then add enough water till you get a pancake like batter, thick enough that it doesn't fall off a spoon too easily, but thin enough that it doesn't glob onto your cauliflower leaves.
3. The central rib of the cauliflower leaf has some tough, fibrous parts. With your knife, cut off a bit of the fibers, and pull them- they should separate from the rest of the rib. If they don't separate easily, you'll need to use your knife to cut them off, otherwise you won't be able to bite the rib.
4. Slice your cauliflower leaf's ribs width-wise. If you leave them whole, they'll take too long to cook and will still be hard by the time the pakoras are ready.
5. Cut your califlower leaves into chunks, no larger than 3 inches by 3 inches, ideally smaller.
6. Heat up oil in a pan on a medium/high heat. You'll need a lot, because pakoras are deep fried. When you're finished, strain the oil and reuse for other purposes. You'll want an oil that can withstand high temperatures without changing its properties, like palm or coconut oil.
6. Dip your califlower leaf chunks in the batter, coating it, making sure the coating is covering the entire thing, but without leaving such a thick coating of batter on the leaves.
7. Drop the cauliflower leaves in the hot oil, cooking until they become golden brown, then flipping over and cooking until the other side is golden brown.
8. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, placing on a cloth napkin or unpaper towel to absorb the excess oil.
9. Eat hot, with chutney if you'd like. Perhaps with this tomato chutney.
What do you usually do with cauliflower or broccoli leaves? Eat them or chuck them? If you eat them, how do you?
Have you ever eaten pakoras before? What type?
Does this seem like something you'd try?
Are you the type to go up and ask vendors or people in general if you can have the food they're about to throw out? Why or why not? Do you consider it dumpster diving if you get it before it reaches the actual dumpster?
Linking up to Simple Lives Thursday