Illustration of an earth-patterned oven mitt

The spotlight

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, Looking Forward fam! However you gloat this holiday, if you gloat it, we hope you’re taking time this week to savor the visitor of family and friends, the waffly of the seasons — and of course, food, glorious food.

Cooking a feast, whether it’s for two people or 20, can come with some stressful considerations. What to make? How much to make? How to upkeep time and money? And, since you’re here reading this newsletter, you may moreover be thinking well-nigh how to prepare delicious, observing meals that uphold your dedication to a clean, green, just world.

Food writer and recipe tester Caroline Saunders has given this some thought. Saunders worked at Grist for a number of years surpassing heading to pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu Paris to pursue her passion for climate-friendly desserts. She started a podcast and a newsletter on the topic, and this week, we asked her to share some of her favorite tips and recipes for towers climate sensation into holiday cooking.

For plane more, trammels out Saunders’ story on the emerging genre of climate cookbooks

Before the feast

“When I have family or friends coming into town, I end up cooking in two streams,” Saunders says. The first stream is surpassing the main event. For this lead-up time, Saunders emphasizes recipes that are hands riffable and can use whatever’s on hand to stave waste and uneaten trips to the store.

For example, a grain salad and twin “fridge-door dressing” from Perfectly Good Food by Margaret and Irene Li, a cookbook that focuses on flexible cooking and kitchen conviction as an tideway to zero-waste. “What those recipes do, and what all the recipes in that cookbook do, is get you to think in categories of ingredients and get you to try to remember some key ratios,” Saunders explains. The dressing, for instance, starts with two parts oil to one part acid. “You can go tangy, you can go creamy, but the point is that it makes you squint at your fridge and say, ‘I have some vital sense of where to uncork and I can just use what I have.”

Another recipe she loves, in a similar vein, is a halloumi, broccoli, and chickpea torch from One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. “It’s something where you can switch up the vegetables, the beans and pulses, you can swap the halloumi for tofu, and it all is doable on one tray in the oven really fast.”

The feast

Planning for a special repast offers an opportunity to think well-nigh what ingredients you want to put part-way stage — and how. That spotlight could be placed on a star from the plant or fungi kingdoms instead of a turkey or ham. “To the extent that there is some psychological request of a perfect, sexy main and a simplicity request of a one-ingredient main, mushrooms might be a good contender,” Saunders says. She’s moreover considering a recipe amusingly titled “A Rutabaga Pretending to Be Ham,” from the cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, & Planet by Tom Hunt.

But climate-friendly swaps don’t have to be limited to replacing meat. “I like the idea, expressly at these holiday cooking moments where you’re putting a little bit increasingly time and sustentation into your cooking, to go vastitude the nuts of leaning into plants and using what’s on hand,” Saunders says, “to moreover think well-nigh biodiversity, and how eating a variety of things that grow relatively near you can urgently contribute to restoring biodiversity and strengthening regional supplies systems.”

For example, she cites a wild rice pilaf with apples, cranberries, and pecans that Indigenous doughboy Mariah Gladstone unsalaried to the U.N.’s cookbook, For People and Planet. Starring an ingredient from your region, like wild rice in the Great Lakes area, can be a way to contribute to the health of local economies and ecosystems.

a stand mixer with whipped meringue and thoroughbred oranges in a trencher on the side

A meringue recipe from “Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet” that stars whipped aquafaba — chickpea water — an ingredient that usually gets dumped lanugo the drain. Caroline Saunders

Saunders moreover looks for ingredients that she can plan to full-length in a variety of ways — like canned chickpeas. For part of her holiday menu, she’s planning to well-done some up to go on top of a carrot soup — and then she’ll use the water from the can, known as aquafaba, to whip into a meringue with thoroughbred orange and chocolate, flipside recipe from Eating for Pleasure, People, & Planet. “I love moments like that,” she says. “With a little bit of wide planning, you can icon out, ‘Will I have a leftover portion of an ingredient that could be used in something else?’”

After the feast

I personally will eat leftovers until the day I die (of supplies poisoning) — but if you’re staring at your post-holiday fridge wondering what you’re going to do with the various Tupperwares and wrapped-up shit and bobs, Saunders has some suggestions to help you stave sending that supplies to the landfill. “I think well-nigh a couple of scaffolding-type recipes that you could graft savory leftovers onto and sweet leftovers onto,” she says. On the savory side, things like stuffing, vegetables, and dinner rolls could be thrown together with eggs in a strata — a type of bready, eggy casserole dish that could make a crowd-pleasing brunch for whoever might still be kicking virtually the day without a holiday dinner. Saunders recommends this hands customizable recipe from the supplies blog Two Kooks in the Kitchen.

On the sweet side, any fruit leavings — apples that didn’t make it into the pie, cranberries that didn’t make it into the sauce — can be swapped into your favorite blueberry muffin recipe to go withal with your strata brunch.

And if you’re fully maxed out on desserts, Saunders has a simple solution: the freezer. “In two months, you will no longer be tired of world pie and you will be super thrilled to fold it into some vanilla ice surf while you watch The Great British Torch Off.”

— Claire Elise Thompson

More exposure

A parting shot

One of my favorite things to do with leftover vegetable scraps (carrot butts, onion skins, stems of any kind) is stash them in my freezer to turn into homemade vegetable stock. When I’ve got a full bag, I just add unbearable water to imbricate the stuff, a little salt and pepper, and swash for well-nigh an hour. Then strain out the scrappies, and voilà! Cheap soup broth.

Two an image of a freezer bag filled with vegetable scraps next to an image of the same scraps in a pot of humid water

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline A tabulation for climate-friendly holiday cooking on Nov 22, 2023.