Summer butter bean stew with almond sourdough bread crumbs and feta
We are told that if we are to feed a burgeoning global population, agriculture will again need to raise its game, to intensify further, to grab more wild land for production, to use more chemical inputs, to stack even more unhappy animals into ever larger sheds, and so on. If this is a vision that frightens you- and it should- then you’ll shocked and relieved in equal measure to learn that around half the food produced by mankind each year goes to waste. So all we need to do is stop wasting food, from farm to work and everything in between. Restaurants and the catering industry are among the worst offenders (we at Wild by Tart promise to do are upmost to buck the trend). Farms, distributors, shops and supermarkets and we in our own homes all have a role to play in tackling the scourge of food waste. Only buying what we are actually going to eat, buying seasonally, don’t fuss over the perfect appearance of fruit and vegetables- misshapen potatoes, three legged carrots and the like generally go unsold even though they are perfectly good to eat; rather than let them spoil, use surplus fruit and vegetables which are starting to turn, to make chutneys, jams, puddings; and use ingredients which don’t perish quickly: like dried beans, grains, pulses and nuts. we find these kinds of stews, curries and salads nourishing and delicious. We had the absolute honour this month of partnering up with Refettorio Felix and Clos 19 to initiate the first supper club series held at the beautiful Refettorio Felix space, to generate media coverage and awareness of the amazing work carried out by the team there and at The Felix Project, in the big fight against food waste and hunger, through ways to salvage and use surplus foods. We were presented with wonky veg and leftover produce that day through suppliers like Food Chain and Mash and created a menu, which we prepped and served on the night with some of our team- a rolling spring feast. This was such an inspiring and wonderful job to work on, of course due to the cause, but also stepping out of our comfort zone of pre-planning a menu- and just getting to go for it and cook out of the love of our hearts. It was extremely liberating and fun! This was one of the dishes from the night- taking a bag of dried butter beans and making a slow cooked wholesome stew with it. Which is our kind of heaven for a week day veggie dinner, using beans which are high in protein, fibre and low in fat- they are also good for the planet! The Food and Agriculture Organisation calls them ‘climate smart’, because they can adapt to rough weather and restore degraded soils. If you have the time, it’s really worth the effort to make your own beans at home- they are much tastier (and cost efficient) than their canned counterparts. They need to be soaked overnight and then simmered with aromatics of your choice for a few hours, but of course if you want an express meal than canned will do.