Cooking during COVID: Reducing Waste and Environmental Impact

Cooking during COVID: Reducing Waste and Environmental Impact


The coronavirus pandemic has led to massive changes in every aspect of our lives—from working in offices and attending meetings and classes in person to moving everything online, and from eating out in restaurants and pubs to staying at home. And while many business operations have come to a halt or at least a slowdown, one industry has had to deal with significant demand amidst the global crisis. The global food and agricultural industry now must work around the clock to ensure security of supply, and regulators are forced to develop new policies as they struggle to deal with empty shelves, and seismic sudden shifts in consumers’ purchasing habits.

However, the biggest problem isn’t a shortage of food and commodities—rather, unfortunately, food waste is becoming an even bigger issue as traditionally big, bulk buyers—including  restaurants and other businesses that serve food—suddenly stop receiving deliveries. As a result, perishables such as milk and eggs are being tossed, and farmers are forced to turn fresh fruits and vegetables into mulch. Moreover, panic-buying amidst fears of shortages has led to large amounts of food ending up in landfills.

This week, my family and I are celebrating Passover and many friends are celebrating Easter. And in just two weeks, Ramadan and the month of daytime fasting will begin, followed by Eid to celebrate the end of fasting.

In honor of these holidays—which all have a strong tradition of family meals—I decided to share a few recipes to help reduce food waste and minimize environmental impact.


For a Passover treat, and one that makes use of the extra Karpas from the seder plate, this recipe makes a fresh and delicious salad:

Karpas Salad

This one is adapted from the ‘The Community Table’ Karpas Salad, from the JCC Manhattan’s cookbook’s, Katja Goldman, Judy Bernstein Bunzl and Lisa Rotmi

Serves 8

For the salad
½ cup almonds
6 ounces baby spinach
Leaves from 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (about 4 cups)
Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro (optional)
½ cup fresh chives cut into 1/8-inch lengths
3/4 cup dried pitted dates, or other dried fruit
1½ cups pomegranate seeds or blueberries
Fresh ‘fines herbes’: dill, rosemary or thyme

Any leftover greens to garnish (carrot tops/radish tops)

Simple dressing
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. In a small skillet, toast the nuts over low heat, watching carefully and stirring often, until lightly browned. Allow to cool in a a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, parsley and/or cilantro and chives. Add the almonds and dates and toss.

3. To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice (to taste) and olive oil together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, adjust the seasoning and serve.


And what to do with that hard-boiled egg that was sitting in your seder plate?

Leftover Hard-Boiled Eggs and Spinach

This wonderful recipe was adapted from a recipe originally published in  “King Solomon’s Table” by Joan Nathan, and subsequently published in a shorter format on Forward as  Joan Nathan’s Long-Cooked Hard-Boiled Eggs With Spinach


Serves 6 

6 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (1½ cups)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound spinach, fresh or frozen

Fresh spices to season

Any leftover greens to garnish (carrot tops/radish tops)

  1. Put the eggs in a cooking pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Then add the olive oil, onions, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Tap the eggs gently against the counter and peel under cold running water, keeping them as whole as possible.

2. Return the peeled eggs to the pot with the seasoned water and simmer very slowly, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or until the water is almost evaporated and the onions almost dissolved. The eggs will become dark and creamy as the cooking water evaporates and they absorb all the flavoring.

3. Heat the remaining cooking liquid over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and add the spinach. Cook the spinach until most of the liquid is reduced, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, about 30 minutes, or until the spinach is creamy and well cooked. Serve a dollop of spinach with a hard-boiled egg on top as the first part of the Seder meal or as a first course of any meal.


An Easter special to use bread ends, this special treat is a great way to involve kids and use leftover bread.  Adapted from Love Food, Hate Waste

Easter Chocolate-Covered Churros

This wonderful recipe is from recipe is brought to you by Imran Nathoo @KitchenClonc


Serves 6

4 slices of any bread

3 ½ oz of unsalted butter

2 tsp of vanilla extract

3 ½ oz of chocolate—milk, dark or white leftover Easter eggs!

6 ¾ oz of heavy cream

2-3 oz of granulated white sugar to taste

1 ½ tsp of ground cinnamon


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. When melted, removed from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl or large roasting tray/plate

3. Slice bread into medium thick sticks/soldiers.

4. Pour butter and vanilla mixture onto a large shallow plate

5. Line a large roasting tray with grease proof paper

6. Then dip the bread portions into the vanilla butter, coating both sides, arrange as you go onto the roasting tray

7. Pop into a preheated oven at 200C for 6 minutes per side so 12 mins in total, flipping the bread over half way through. The toast should be golden brown so keep an eye on it!

8. Meanwhile, warm the heavy cream a saucepan over a low heat. When steam vapors begin to form from the cream, take it off the heat–you don’t want it to burn.

9. In a separate bowl break up the Easter egg chocolate into little bits then pour over the warm double cream. Let it stand for a minute then slowly combine to form your chocolate dipping sauce.

10. As soon as the toast churros is done, remove from the oven and dip/toss/coat in the cinnamon sugar. Serve with a side of the warm Easter egg chocolate sauce. So good!



Miriam Aczel is a President’s Scholar PhD Candidate at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy. Her research focus is on international energy science and policy, with a focus on mitigation of environmental and health impacts of shale gas. She is also co-founder and co-director of the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics, a nonprofit based in Cambodia. 

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