My family and I began discussing our plans for Christmas dinner about a week before the holidays. Like most people, our holiday celebrations were going to be very different this year. Typically we see lots of family and gather for a special Italian meal. This year we would be dining just the four of us at home, but still wanted to prepare a really special meal. Our meal this year turned out to be made from vegetables that were imminently headed for the trash!
My husband and I love watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and one of our favorite chefs is Massimo Bottura. While discussing our Christmas meal, we happened to turn on a MasterClass episode titled “Vegetarian “Broth of Everything” featuring Massimo Bottura (https://www.masterclass.com/classes/massimo-bottura-teaches-modern-italian-cooking/chapters/passatelli-part-1-vegetarian-broth-of-everything). We were mesmerized by Massimo’s passion and energy as usual.
In this particular class, Massimo creates a vegetable broth using odds and ends from his refrigerator to reduce waste. His broth looked so enticing, I had to try it. I followed Massimo’s recipe fairly closely using different vegetables and herbs according to what we had on hand. It turned on to be the perfect way to use up random bits of vegetables left over from our weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes.
The recipe requires quite a bit of time to make but not a lot of effort. We loaded up a tray of half used onions with their skins, sunchoke bits, a few potatoes that were nearing the end of their natural shelf life, parsnips and carrots with the peel still on, and some leftover portobello mushrooms that I had no immediate plans to use for anything.
We tossed the tray in the oven at 150 degrees F and left it overnight for about 12 hours. The next morning the kitchen smelled heavenly! I then increased the heat a bit for another 30-40 minutes to carmelize the vegetables a bit more.
Once the roasting was complete, I dumped the whole tray into a pot of cold water and added some fresh herbs from my courtyard pots. I truly just grabbed a random mixture of rosemary, thyme, oregano and the last of the parsley. I also added a chunk of parmesan rind. (This is something I always keep in the freezer. Even though we do not typically consume dairy, I find that the rind adds incredible depth to the flavor).
I left the pot to simmer on the lowest possible heat for about 6-8 hours – sometimes adding a bit of water when it had reduced too much. After we couldn’t stand the delicious aroma anymore, I strained the vegetables from the broth and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was truly the most fantastic broth I have ever made. The most exciting part was that the broth was created from vegetables I was about to throw away!
Now, what to do with this amazing creation …. I wanted to honor the beautiful flavors of the vegetables and not over complicate things. So, I turned to my trusty pasta board (a birthday gift from my mom and stepfather) and rolled some semolina noodles. We tossed these to cook in the broth and feasted on one of the best Christmas dinners I have ever consumed!
We now keep of container in the refrigerator and all week I collect the random bits of vegetables. When the container is full, I make another batch of broth. Any broth that is not used right away I store in the freezer. A word of warning, I once added a lot of celery leaves, celery stalks, and rutabaga to my roasting tray. It turns out, the celery and rutabaga made the broth very bitter.