If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of this summer and my CSA-box adventure, it’s that you need a good Garbage Soup recipe.
Someone once told me about a clever relative (friend?) who always used up all the veggies in her crisper. Every Friday, this frugal person made what she called “Garbage Soup.” It was her go-to recipe for using up bits and bobs, and it had three important qualities:
- It was flexible – it worked with whatever was on hand
- It made a decent quantity – enough for leftovers and lunches
- It had a flavour base that was always appealing – no matter what happened to go into the pot
Sadly, I don’t have an actual Garbage Soup recipe to pass along. But I can share my own personal strategy for using up a mountain of veggies you just haven’t gotten through this week. Ready?
My particular favourite is a Japanese dish called yakisoba. It’s a simple mix of buckwheat noodles (soba), cabbage and other veggies, a protein (often pork) and a delicious savoury sauce. You boil and drain the noodles, then stir-fry the veggies and protein. Then you toss the noodles and sauce into the wok and dinner is ready in 5 minutes. Boom!
Last night I chopped a few of the leftover CSA box inclusions: a small head of cabbage, some carrots, a box of snow peas and a big onion. I thought about adding the bunch of dinosaur kale that’s still hanging around, but I think I’ll save that for kale chips. Basically, yakisoba can work with any good stir-fry vegetable. And the more, the merrier, I say.
When it comes to the protein component, white meat is a good bet. Chicken is great, but pork is the traditional choice. In Japan, you’ll often find tender bits of pork belly in your yakisoba. I didn’t have any, but I just so happened to have bacon (the smoked version of pork belly) residing happily in my freezer. I just chopped and fried it until almost crisp (but not shattery), then drained it on a paper towel before tossing it with the saucy noodle mixture.
So what’s in the sauce? The version I make is loosely based on a recipe I found on Japanfoodaddict.com. I make a double batch of noodles, and I usually substitute a bit of water for some of the soy sauce so the resulting noodles don’t turn into a salt lick. I also enhance the finished noodles with a squirt or so of premade yakisoba sauce, which you can find at Japanese or some Asian markets.
Top it all off with some shredded nori seaweed and a forkful of pickled ginger, and it really is the best veggie-packed noodle stir-fry around.
If you want to make your own version at home, try our tasty ramen-noodle-based Pork Tenderloin Yakisoba. Or, if you want to make a whole-grain soba noodle version, grab a copy of our new cookbook, 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes.
We hope you’ve enjoyed Fresh Fridays this summer. Here’s to eating local, and to eating well!