By Sandy Hu
I always feel virtuous when I clean out the fridge. We have a big Sub-Zero and things can get buried if you aren’t paying attention.
I hate wasting food but admit I do my share. When I clean out the fridge, though, I have a chance to redeem myself.
I flip on Turner Movie Classics or CNN and tackle the crisper bins on a Saturday morning. I need to make room for a counter-full of new fresh produce from the supermarket or farmers’ market, waiting for refrigerator space.
Going through the fridge, I am doing triage. I sort through the tired produce, setting out what is salvageable and dumping the rest in the green (compost) bin.
I take overripe fruit and cut them up in large chunks, unpeeled, spread them in a single layer on a sheet pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen, I bag the chunks in freezer bags for smoothies later. They’ll get blended with fresher fruit, yogurt or milk and ice cubes.
Or I might cut up whatever fruit I have left and make a fruit salad. When fruit is washed and prepped, they get consumed faster in my house.
I squeeze the juice of tired lemons, grating the rind first. I freeze the juice and rind separately in snack-size plastic bags. It’s always good to have fresh lemon juice on hand for salad dressing, lemon tart or lemonade, and the grated peel adds zest to buttered veggies and other dishes.
If I have lots of veggies on their last legs, I cut them up and make fried rice for lunch.
Or I might make soup.
Leftovers Soup: Dice veggies you have on hand – onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, potatoes, etc. Heat olive oil in soup pot and sauté the veggies. Add canned low-sodium chicken broth, a few whole garlic cloves, canned tomatoes and dried basil or thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Break up some linguini or spaghetti into two-inch pieces and add a small handful. Sometimes I also add a can of rinsed, drained chickpeas. Simmer till vegetables are tender and pasta is cooked. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and/or grated Parmesan cheese.
With my refrigerator now clean, I inventory all the produce – new and old – before I put them in the fridge. That way I will remember to use them before they go bad.
Do you have good tips for refrigerator management? Love the hear them!
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