Saturday, December 16, 2017
Cooking

From the food editor: It's time to clean out your pantry, plus a recipe for Cauliflower Arancini

This week's cover story is a good reminder that, every once in a while, it's good to give your kitchen a deep cleaning.

I'm not talking about scrubbing dishes. I'm talking about combing through your pantry and fridge (particularly those shelves on the door) and getting rid of anything that has been in there for more than a year. Throw away duplicate items — do you really need three jars of strawberry jam? — or, better yet, put them to good use by working them into one of the recipes featured on Page 6.

What better time than spring to clear everything out, focus on what's really worth keeping, and repurpose the rest?

We focused mostly on the pantry and refrigerator in our story, but the freezer is another culprit for storing long-lost foods. Freezing food items allows them to remain usable for months, sometimes up to a year, but that doesn't mean they have an indefinite shelf life. Every time you put something in there, try labeling it — either by taking a Sharpie directly to a plastic bag, or affixing a sticker onto a container. And be sure to put the month, day and year. I'll never forget that time a few months ago when I pulled out a bag of frozen chicken with "11/14" on it. My fiance asked whether that meant Nov. 14 or November 2014. To my horror, I had no idea. The truth is, it could have been either.

Green Chef intrigues, inspires

This week's recipe is inspired by a new mail-order cooking service I tried recently. It's called Green Chef, and the hook is that it provides organic ingredients that are free of "synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, artificial ingredients and growth hormones or antibiotics." That drew me in — and an email offer for four free meals.

This particular service is interesting in that, unlike other recipe delivery services, such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, a lot of the work was already done. The recipe for Cauliflower Arancini came with pregrated cauliflower "rice" and premade pesto.

In the recipe below, we're making it all from scratch, which means taking a whole head of cauliflower and turning it into a grainlike substance. Using cauliflower like this proves just how versatile the vegetable is; in this preparation, it can be used in stir-fries, simple side dishes and as a substitute for rice.

By mixing it with cheese and bread crumbs and rolling it into balls, it mimics traditional arancini, rice balls that usually are deep-fried. This is a healthier and more complex-tasting version.

Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

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