Recipes and Tips for Climate Conscious Cooking
By Malee Oot Updated with new recipes: January 4, 2014
Climate Conscious Recipes
‘Green Eggs—No Ham’ Poached Eggs on Spinach and Kale Pesto Topped Toasts
This breakfast can be easily tailored to serve just one or a whole brunch bunch. And, many of the ingredients are easily repurposed and incorporated into other dishes.
First, the pesto. Use this pesto for the toasts and transfer whatever remains to a jar and store in the fridge to use as a topping for pasta, pizza, meat or fish.
¼ pound fresh Tuscan kale
¼ pound fresh spinach
⅔ cup pine nuts
¼ cup Pecorino Romano (grated)
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
A pinch of salt and pepper
Destalk the kale (if necessary, simply tear the leaves off the stalks). Grate the cheese and set aside for the moment. Slowly combine the ingredients in a food processor or blender: First add the spinach and kale—a little bit at a time—while adding the olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped. Then add the pine nuts and cheese. If using a blender, you may need to use a spoon to redirect the ingredients to the bottom of the blender to ensure everything is evenly chopped.
Quick Homemade Toasts
This basic bread recipe makes a quick, simple loaf of home baked bread but also works well as pizza dough. You can set aside a bit of bread dough and pesto to form a pizza later (the pesto is tasty on pizza with carmelized onion and tomato).
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons salt
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of warm water (be sure the yeast is fully dissolved in the water). Let the yeast sit for about 10 minutes (it will have a thicker, creamy appearance when ready). Combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and ¾ cup of water in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Turn out the dough on a well-floured surface and knead a few times. Then place the dough into a buttered or greased bowl and cover with a dish towel and allow to rise until double in volume—let the dough sit for 60 to 90 minutes. When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400˚ and cut the dough in half for rolling into two small loaves of bread. (You can also tightly wrap up the dough and store it in the refrigerator overnight or freeze it―dough stores well for months frozen.) To make the loaves, roll out two thin loaves and place on a baking sheet, brush with butter, and bake for 25 minutes.
Poached Eggs (By the dozen)
This method for poaching eggs allows you to make a dozen at a time—perfect for feeding a crowd. This method will also work even if you make less than a dozen at once (just reduce the cooking time by 1-3 minutes). The only tricky thing about this recipe is keeping a close watch on the time—if you allow the eggs to cook too long they will still be perfectly edible and tasty, but both the whites and yolks will be set and you will end up with fully yolks instead. Check the eggs while they are in the oven—the appearance will be a little deceptive, you may have to take them out and jiggle the pan slightly to be sure the whites have set.
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Using a cupcake/muffin pan, add a scant tablespoon of water to each of the cups in the pan. Then crack one egg into each cup. Fill as many of the cups as desired. Bake for 10-13 minutes—if you are not making the entire dozen eggs, check the batch at 9 minutes. Remove the eggs gently with a slotted spoon.
To assemble the toasts:
Slice the bread into thick pieces. Spread some of the pesto on top of each piece and lay a poached egg on top; season the egg with a little salt and pepper. The egg yolks should be runny, so these toasts are sometimes easier to eat with a knife and fork.
The Seasonal Dutch Baby
The Dutch baby is perhaps as mysterious as its history—is it a pancake? A fancy inflated crepe? A baked pastry? Similar to the recipe for German pancakes, Dutch baby is undeniably tasty and easy to prepare.
Seasonal Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby
- 1 apple
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 ½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt (a good pinch)
- ½ cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Core the apple and cut into thin slices and then put them aside for the moment. Preheat the oven to 375˚. While the oven is heating, begin collecting the rest of your ingredients. Place the ½ cup milk and the eggs on your kitchen counter to allow them to warm up to room temperature. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a large cast iron skillet (a heavy pan with high sides safe for the oven) and put the skillet in the oven to allow the butter to melt. Then, turn the remaining tablespoon of butter, melt it and then put it aside for a few minutes to allow it to cool. While the butter is cooling, combine the flour, salt, sugar, milk, eggs, and the cooled tablespoon of melted butter. Mix until well combined (like a pancake batter). Add the spices and the vanilla. Remove the warmed skillet from the oven—the butter should be melted by the now. Pour the batter into the skillet and arrange the apple slices on top. Put the skillet back into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve warm, with a little powdered sugar on top, if desired.
The same recipe can also easily be made without apples, just follow the same steps and omit the apple slices.
Summer Brunch from the Garden
Brunch is one of the best ways to have your cake and eat it too. That is, to both sleep in and still begin the day lingering at the breakfast table over a lavish spread. Let seasonal, summer produce be the highlight of your brunch menu with these two easy recipes sure to satisfy diners craving something savory, as well as those with a serious sweet tooth. And, more importantly, both these dishes pair well mimosas.
Kale and Carmelized Onion Quiche with a Potato Crust
Substituting a potato crust for the traditional dough-based pie crust makes this interpretation of a summer quiche safe for gluten free diners (most olive oils and cheeses are gluten-free, but be sure to confirm the cheese is safe if you are using a process cheese blend).
- 4 large potatoes (yielding about 3 cups shredded)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 small onion
- 2 cups kale leaves
- 1 cup Swiss cheese
Preheat the oven to 425˚. Grate the potatoes coarsely and mix in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Press the shredded potato pieces into the bottom and along the sides of a 9-inch pie pan (shaping the potatoes as you would a traditional dough pie crust). Bake the crust until the potatoes begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes. While the crust is baking, chop the onion and destalk and devein the kale, and then chop the kale leaves as well. In a frying pan, add a little olive oil add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions about 1-2 minutes then add the kale and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove the potato crust from the over (after 10-15 minutes) and add the sautéed onion and kale. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk with a little salt and pepper. Add the shredded cheese to the whisked eggs and mix gently then pour on top of the sautéed vegetables in the potato shell. Bake at 425˚ for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350˚ and continue to bake the quiche for an additional 20-30 minutes (the top should be lightly browned). Remove from the oven and let the quiche stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Crepes with Strawberry Syrup
- 1 pound strawberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- ¹/₈ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 ¼ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
Start by making the crepes (recipe yields about a dozen). Whisk the whole egg, egg white, and salt together. Slowly add the flour and milk. Whisk continuously. Warm a medium-sized skillet (be sure the use a small or medium-sized pan to ensure your crepes have the right density). Grease using the butter. Pour about ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet pan. Immediately roll the pan so that the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan. Watch the crepe until your notice the sides beginning to curl, then flip the crepe over and cook for an additional 10-15 seconds. Preheat the oven to 200˚ and use a casserole dish to keep the crepes warm until ready to be eaten.
Then, for the strawberries. First, chop the strawberries into pieces and place half of the strawberries in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring the combination to a boil and simmer and allow to simmer long enough so that the mixture is reduced to a syrup (about 7-10 minutes). While your syrup is simmering, fill each of your crepes with a few strawberry pieces and fold over in thirds. Once the strawberry syrup is finished, drizzle over the top of your crepes.
Stick it to Summer with the Easiest Raspberry Sorbet Ever!
Summer in Washington, D.C. means one thing; it is hot as [insert appropriate four letter word]. We dwellers of the D.C. metro area need a few crutches to get us through the nausea-inducing humidity, more specifically, frozen and delicious crutches. This recipe for raspberry sorbet is easy on the wallet, the taste buds, and the environment.
- 1 container fresh raspberries (equivalent of about 2 cups)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
The first step is to make basic ‘simple syrup’ using the water and sugar. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat on low. Allow the water-sugar combination to simmer for a few minutes (about 3-6 minutes) until a thin syrup is created, then remove from heat and allow the syrup to fully cool.
In a food processor or blender (a food processor is preferable, but a blender works just fine), add the raspberries and the teaspoon of lemon juice. Blend the raspberries until they reach the consistency of a smooth puree. Combine the raspberry puree with the cooled sugar syrup in the saucepan and gently stir to combine.
Next, place a wire mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the raspberry puree through the strainer to remove all the seeds and any other miscellaneous bits attached to the berries. Pour the strained puree into a shallow metal tray (i.e. metal bread baking pans work perfectly). Place the tray in your freezer, for stir it every 30 minutes for the first two hours. After two hours, cover the pan with tin foil and leave in the freezer overnight (or at least 7 hours) to allow the sorbet to fully freeze.
Climate Conscious Tips
Preparing and sharing food can be a celebration—a unifying, loving social experience. Or, in some cases, meals happen on the go, microwave cookery eaten on the fly. Whatever our mealtime experience, our food choices have a major impact on the planet. Food production and transportation methods rely heavily on fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.
But, there is hope. There are a number of climate friendly food choices—which also happen to be healthy and economic choices. To get started, here are a few basic things to consider:
Processed foods require greater inputs of energy (typically from burning fossil fuels). Even commercial foods labeled as "natural" often are often heavily processed. Truly natural vegetables, fruits, grains, and herbs that haven't been processed are generally the healthiest food possible. Natural foods can be preserved through canning, pickling, and even freezing too, without much processing.
2) Eat Less Meat
Meat production has a huge environmental impact. The livestock industry accounts for nearly 20% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, even more than the transportation sector! Lamb typically has the greatest environmental impact, generating 39.3 kg (86.4 lbs) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂ₑ) per kilo consumed, with beef second at 27.1 kg (59.6lbs) of CO₂ₑ per kilo consumed. You can reduce your impact by eating less meat less often. Seafood, when sustainably caught, can also be a low impact and healthy option!
3) Think Organic
Organic farming methods can be much kinder to the climate, sometimes emitting half as much carbon dioxide as farms that rely on chemical inputs. And organic foods have fewer traces of harmful chemical residues—some of which are now being linked to the global honey bee colony collapse problem. Organic foods can also have higher nutrient and antioxidant values.
4) Don’t Forget the Leftovers
Almost 40% of the food in the United States is thrown away. On an individual level, food waste adds up to extra costs, estimated at about $600 per person annually. Yet, the real monetary cost is probably hidden in food's retail price—somebody has to pay for all that food we don't use! Planning meals—and having a strategy for leftovers, benefits the climate and household budgets.
5) Stay Local
The distance our food travels also has a climate impact. These “food miles” account for about 11% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food consumption. The ultimate way to go local is planting a garden (even a windowsill herb garden), which can also reduce grocery costs.
- Match your pot or pan to your burner. Almost half the fuel used to cook can be wasted with a small pan on a larger burner.
- Cut slow cooking veggies (like bulky potatoes) into tiny pieces to reduce fuel use.
- Be creative. Replace slow cooking foods with options requiring less time on a burner. Try substituting quick cooking orzo pasta for rice as a side.
- Keep an eye on your water—use only as much as needed.
- Cook in bulk. Make soups or sauces in big batches that can be frozen and used later. A full freezer is also more efficient.
- Make the most of your oven. Use all of the shelves while the oven is hot. While roasting your main course, also throw in a pie, or bake a dish to eat (or freeze) for later in the week.
Sources and Additional Resources