Watermelon Rind and Bean Curry

Throwing food is something I try to avoid as much as possible. Almost everything we buy gets eaten or used this way or another. In this case, I’m referring to watermelon rind. Did you ever think it was edible? I didn’t think about it until a few months ago when a friend brought me some mysterious preserves she made. I couldn’t figure out what she could possibly had used to make the preserves. I was very surprised when she finally revealed her “secret” ingredient – watermelon rind. I enjoyed it, but when it was gone, I moved on with my life and completely forgot about it.

Yesterday, I brought home a watermelon. My husband cut it and placed the wedges in a special container, and we were left with a big amount of the rind. Just before we were about to dump it in the compost bin, my son reminded us of those preserves we all enjoyed, which gave me an idea. Try and make a savory dish using the rind as the main ingredient. I decided to go completely untraditional and use unconventional combinations of ingredients and flavors, and got some inspiration from a post I found in the blog Sumptuous Spoonfuls.

I think my creation came out pretty good…

2 tbs minced fresh ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 tbs palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
2 tbs peanut butter
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs soy sauce
5 tbs Thai masaman curry paste
1 15oz can coconut milk
4 tbs chopped cilantro
2 tbs Thai fish sauce (optional)

5-6 cups watermelon rind, peeled and cubed
3 tbs oil
3 cups cooked beans (I used pinto beans)
8 medium baby Bella mushrooms, sliced into thick slices

In a medium bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the watermelon cubes. Sauté for 6-7 minutes over high heat, stirring the watermelon occasionally. The watermelon should be lightly seared and wilted.

Add the sliced mushrooms, the beans and the sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 more minutes.

Food Recycling is Fun (and economic, and responsible, and environmentally conscientious, etc…)

I don’t cook every day. I cook about twice a week, enough for 3-4 days. Sometimes, when I have time, I decide on a cooking day. I make many different dishes, divide them into family size containers, and freeze them. This saves my life when I’m super busy, and don’t have time to cook.

Once a week, I go over the food in the fridge and pantry to check on the food situation in the house. This way I make sure that, God forbid, we do not run out of food (not that we are even close to being in such danger with the amount of food I keep in the house). In fact, our pantry is so well stocked that we are prepared for the hurricane season all year round.



Sometimes, though, the fridge seems to be filled with food, but when I start opening containers, most of them are almost empty (some are totally empty!!! Oh, these kids…). Most of what I find are leftovers that are not enough for a whole meal. I also come across fruit or veggies that nobody wants to eat anymore, because they are overripe or wrinkled. I love when that happens, because that gives me the opportunity to wrack my brain, be creative, and somehow turn all these leftovers into something yummy. It’s like being on one of those TV cooking shows; only I don’t have to compete with anyone 🙂

Usually, we lick our fingers with pleasure and deplore the fact that it was a one-time dish that we can’t easily recreate. But every once in a while I mess up, and either I end up eating it all myself (throwing away perfectly good food is a big NO!), or if it’s really horrible, I bid it farewell and reluctantly dump it in the garbage can, while thinking of all the hungry kids around the world who would not be as picky as I am and enjoy every bite. Ok…maybe they wouldn’t.

When you wonder what you can make out of leftovers, think soup, omelet, or a mish-mash stew. Then it becomes easy. All you really have to do is throw some leftovers together in a pot or pan, and add a little twist to create something new. I know, I know, It’s easy when you know what to do…

So what kind of leftovers are we talking about? Anything from rice, potatoes, pasta and other starches, to cooked fish, meats, chicken, and cold cuts. Vegetables, raw and cooked, are always good candidates for recycled food. Even overripe fruit, whole or cut, can be used creatively.

To get in the groove, understand the possibilities, and get some ideas, here is a fun, easy recipe, using the discarded ends of the zucchini. I learned this recipe over Thanksgiving weekend, from my mother-in-law who is a great cook.


Zucchini Ends in Garlic

2- 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 fillet of anchovy (optional)
20 zucchini ends (bottom part only) cut in half
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan. Mince the garlic and add to the oil. Sautee until garlic is starting to turn golden. The original recipe (the one I got from my MIL) also calls for 1 fillet of anchovy to be added with the garlic, but since I ran out of anchovies, I used some salt instead.

Add the zucchini, salt (if you did not use anchovy) and pepper, and sautee for 1 minute.

Lower the heat to low and sautee the zucchini until cooked but not mushy, and the garlic is fried and crunchy.


Eat it as a side dish or add to a good Caesar salad instead of croutons.


For other trash to treasure recipes, check out the following recipes:
Easy Japanese dinner
Beef croquettes – Leftover version

Pickled Treasure

What do you do when you are left with some debris like broccoli stems, cauliflower core and leaves, or cabbage core? Throw it in the garbage, you say? Wrong answer. The answer is turn this trash to treasure. Never throw away food. There is always something better and useful to do with it.

pickles debris

In this case, I’ll show you how to make pickles out of all these debris.
First you have to rinse well all stems and leaves, and cut off the bottoms of the stems.
Using a coring knife or a peeler, peel the broccoli stems to discard of the tough outer layer.

pickles stems peeled

Slice all broccoli and cauliflower stems into very thin rings. Using a food processor to do the job can save you time and effort. I also added a few peeled carrots in to add color and volume.

pickles sliced

As for the cauliflower leaves, slice them into thin strips, using a knife.

pickles sliced too

Get a glass jar and start filling it with the sliced veggies, about 2-3 inches high. Cut one or two lemons into quarters lengthwise, then slice each quarter into thin slices.Top the veggie layer in the jar with a single layer of lemon slices. Repeat the same process until the jar is full.

pickles layered

Every once in awhile push the vegetables down with your fist, so the veggies are tight and cozy.

pickles fist down

Next step is to make the brine. In a measuring cup, measure 2 cups of water. Add to it 2 teaspoons salt and stir until the salt is completely dissolved in the water. Pour the brine over the veggies to fill the jar almost all the way (leave about ½ inch from the top). Close the jar with lid, give it a quick shake and leave on the countertop for 3-4 days to ferment and become pickles.

Optional: for the brine, you may substitute ½ cup water with ½ cup cider vinegar.

pickles in jar


One of the fun, refreshing drinks I love to make in summertime is cold Kompot – Eastern European fruit soup, made from fresh and dried fruit.

Kompot is a great way to save over-ripe fruit from ending in the garbage. Almost any old fruit you have at home will do for kompot, except for maybe bananas and watermelon (I’m sure I forgot some other fruit, but I’ll let you find out for yourself).

The recipe here is composed of some old fruit that I found in my fridge this morning. As you can see, none of these fruit is in great shape, and of course, nobody feel like eating them anymore.

Kompot over-ripe fruit

3 peaches
2 small mangos, peeled
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
½ cup craisins
1 tablespoon orange zest or dried orange peel

Rinse and cut the fruit into ½ inch cubes.
Place in a medium saucepan and add water to just cover the fruit. Add the sugar, craisins, and orange peel, and bring to a boil.

Kompot cooking

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Transfer the soup to a pitcher and refrigerate.

I love my kompot cold off the fridge, but it can also be eaten/drank warm or at room temperature.