You don’t need to be Dr. Frankenstein to bring life back from the dead. You just need the ingredients in a Thai curry or stir-fry.
A gnarly celery bottom, hairy scallion ends, the spiky top of a pineapple, a stem of lemongrass — these and other vegetable and fruit scraps you usually discard can come to life again.
For lemongrass or scallions, pare away tough, outer bits, place in a glass half full of water and set in the sun. Change the water daily and within a week you’ll see wee roots. Keep it going for another week or two. Plant in moist soil, keep watering until it’s established, and start enjoying the fruits of your (low-level) labor.
Down to celery bottoms? Slice the pale, hard base of celery horizontally and place in a shallow bowl of water in a sunny spot. Within days, sometimes hours, it’ll sprout bright green ruffles of new leaves.
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Transfer to a pot or directly into your garden, covering the base with dirt but leaving the new growth exposed. Stalks may be scrawny but bushy with leaves and will taste of the very essence of celery. Try the same trick to regrow fennel and bok choy.
Take a ripe pineapple, grab the column of tough leaves at the top, twist and pull. You’ll have a fistful of leaf spike. Cut away any bits of fruit and peel away the bottom leaves, exposing a few layers of the tough core. Place in a saucer or shallow bowl of water and set in the sunshine, changing the water every day.
Within a week, nodes will appear at the bottom exposed and new green leaves will come from the center. Plant, leaving plenty of surrounding free space — pineapple leaves grow several feet long and have sharp, serrated edges. Be patient. Another Halloween or two may come and go before you see fruit.
Does turning your kitchen into a mad scientist’s lab of sprouting, rooting and regrowth sound weird? We waste almost half our food — that’s what’s really creepy.
Reduce food waste by regenerating produce involves no black magic or rivet-necked monsters and requires little mess or effort. It just rewards you with free food and extra meals. It’s scary easy.
Ellen Kanner: firstname.lastname@example.org, @edgyveggie1
Night of the Living Dead Curry
Recipe by Ellen Kanner. Curry paste and lemongrass are available in Asian markets and some supermarkets. Serve over brown rice.
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
3 tablespoons red curry paste
1-inch segment fresh lemongrass, tough exterior discarded, thinly sliced
1 tablepoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons palm sugar or brown sugar
3 carrots (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped
3 ribs celery (about 1 cup), chopped
1 cup pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained, pressed and blotted dry, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lime, zested and juiced
3/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into skinny ribbons
1/4 scallions, thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
Bring coconut milk to boil in a large skillet. Stir in red curry paste for a minute, until it dissolves and gives the coconut milk a pinkish tone — like a bit of a blush. Stir in the lemongrass, soy sauce and palm sugar or brown sugar. Continue stirring for another three to five minutes, or until coconut milk begins to thicken.
Add the chopped carrots, celery, pineapple and tofu. Stir gently to combine. Reduce heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook for about eight minutes, allowing the vegetables to become tender and curry infused.
Stir in the lime zest and juice and thin ribbons of basil. Season with sea salt and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings