Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mushroom, Tomato, and Chickpea Barley Risotto

Some food for thought: The USA wastes 40% of all food produced in a year. I am guessing the picture isn't much better in Canada. About half of this can be attributed to household waste. In today's world we have an obesity epidemic and massive food waste on one side of the planet and an undernourished population with food scarcity on the other side. Although reducing our food waste won't immediately solve the world's food problems, it will at least save us some money.

Being the food safety freak that I am, I no doubt waste a lot of food. I won't leave leftovers in the fridge for more than a few days and if I forget to freeze it, there it goes into the green bin. I like to be on the safe side. This goes for produce as well. Sometimes I don't use up all the fresh vegetables I have bought before they wilt away. In the spirit of Lent and self-improvement I think I will try and consciously waste less food. This recipe is an example of an attempt to waste-not. I had celery from last week that was wilted, not fit for direct consumption, but would work beautifully cooked up. The mushrooms were getting to the end of their life-time as well. So instead of making the clam pasta that I have been dying to make all week, I made this barley "risotto" inspired by an Oh She Glows recipe, and my withering vegetables.

Mushroom, Tomato, and Chickpea Barley Risotto

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small stalk of celery, chopped finely
13 white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregnao
1 cup pot barley
2 3/4 cup tomato soup (I used Imagine's Creamy Garden Tomato Soup)
3/4 cup water*
1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add celery an saute for 3 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms, basil and oregano and cook until mushrooms begin to soften (about 3-5 min).
3. Add barley and stir for 3 minutes until hot.
4. Add soup, water and chickpeas and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until barley is cooked.

* Depending on the thickness of the soup you use, you may need to add more water.

This is such a quick way to get a "risotto" type dish. It was very flavourful due to the fantastic soup that I used. If your soup or broth is less flavourful, pump up the seasoning. Cumin or tumeric would would wonderfully instead of basil and oregano. This was a great dish to have for dinner with the current weather: cold and rainy. I look forward to coming home to these leftovers tomorrow. I'll be sure to freeze or eat any leftovers before they get a little sketchy...

Anyone have any good tips to avoid food waste?

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