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No leaf left behind: Delicious zero waste recipes

Photos: Carmen Palma

In association with Espigoladors and CETT-UB

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Ever thought you could do more with those bits of fruit and veg that you scrape into the bin? You can – and it’s way easier and tastier than you think! Here’s a selection of inspiring zero waste recipes, that use up every last bit of your bananas, carrots and cauliflowers.

We live in a world where one third of the food we grow goes to waste. Yes, one third. That shocking number includes the perfectly good parts of fruit and veg that we trim off, because we’re not sure what to do with them. 

Until now. 

5 has teamed up with the food waste fighters at Espigoladors and the cookery wizards at Barcelona hospitality school CETT-UB to bring you these delicious zero waste recipes that use up all those bits of fruit and veg that you usually ignore.

Follow us on Instagram for more zero waste recipes and tips!

Zero waste apple winter mocktail

When you cook with apples, you usually end up with a pile of scraps, right? The cores and often also the peels – even though we know they’re edible.

You can use the peel in salads or crisp it in the oven with a little cinnamon to make tasty chips. And the core shouldn’t be wasted either – that can be pulped or simmered in water, then cooled to make a fibre-rich juice drink.

Here’s our recipe for a fruity and alcohol-free drink that uses up all of the apple. Put on your bartender hat and let’s drink to no more wasted fruit!


  • Ice cubes
  • Gelatin leaves
  • Sugar
  • Apple cores
  • Apple skins
  • Lemon or lime juice

The mocktail

Put the apple cores and skins in a small pot, cover with water and simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain and, while still warm, add sugar and hydrated gelatin leaves (use two gelatin leaves for each litre of syrup to get a good consistency). Let the gelatin dissolve and let the drink cool in the fridge.

Just before serving add lemon juice and ice cubes. Use a blender to generate a foam and serve in a martini glass with the foam on top. Enjoy!

More tips

  • If it’s not Friday, it’s Friday soon. Feel free to add a splash of your favourite liquor.
  • Give it a twist by adding some seasonal fruit.
  • Freeze the apple syrup for later use.

Zero waste banana bread

Bananas are among the most wasted foods. There’s a thin line between ripe and overripe, and some people just won’t touch a brown banana. They’re missing out. When bananas have gone brown, they’re sweeter than ever, and perfect for baking.

Then there’s the peel, which actually makes up about one third of the banana. It’s delicious and rich in vitamins and minerals. The riper, the sweeter.

For a sweet and wholesome zero waste treat, check out our recipe for banana bread. Not only does it taste heavenly, but it uses the whole banana – peel and all.


  • Bananas
  • Yoghurt
  • Nuts
  • All-purpose flour
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Butter

The bread

Blanch the banana peels for a couple of minutes, then blend them in a blender until you get a smooth texture. Add the blended peels to your favourite cake mix and bake until golden.

The ice cream

Dice the bananas, place on a tray and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Blend the frozen banana chunks with some yoghurt until smooth and creamy.

Enjoy your banana bread and ice cream right away with some nuts!

More tips

  • To enrich the ice cream, add any other seasonal fruit.
  • Substitute heavy cream for the yoghurt, or your favourite vegan option.
  • Add chocolate chips or blueberries to your cake mix for an extra twist.
  • To store, keep the cake in the fridge in closed tupperware.
Zero waste celery salad

Zero waste celery salad

Celery crops up everywhere, but is it anyone’s favourite vegetable? We came up with this recipe to make you look at this overlooked vegetable in a brand new light – and use every part of it.

Instead of just breaking off the biggest stalks, here’s how you can make the most of those flavoursome smaller ones as well, plus the long-neglected leaves, which are great as a garnish or – as in this recipe – battered and fried.


  • Celery
  • Vinaigrette
  • Rice flour
  • Nuts
  • Blue cheese

The salad

Separate the celery into outer stalks, inner stalks and leaves. Cut the outer stalks into short sticks and use a knife to remove the outer fibre.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch for a couple of minutes.

Chop the inner stalks finely and put aside.

The leaves

Use the rice flour to make a batter. Break the celery leaves into small strips, cover them with batter and fry.


Spread cheese on the outer stalks. Sprinkle with the chopped inner stalks and nuts. Finish with the tempura leaves and vinaigrette.

Enjoy your zero waste celery salad!


  • If you’re using part of a celery, keep the rest in the fridge for another time.
  • Use any celery leftovers in a soup.

Zero waste carrot bean stew

We’re starting with one of the most familiar vegetables of all: the carrot. It’s time to learn to love the whole carrot – including those beautiful green leaves which, sadly, are sometimes gone before we even buy them. But if you can get carrots with their leaves intact, you can cook and eat them along with the rest. 

Carrot leaves are rich in vitamin A, which is good for your eyesight (and bones and immune system and general health), and they can be easily included in all kinds of dishes – like this fantastic carrot and bean stew.


  • 1 egg, hard boiled
  • Carrot leaves
  • Boiled beans

For the soffritto

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 branch of celery

The stew

Chop the carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Stir fry in a pan with a little olive oil.

Add the beans and some stock of your choice, and mix with a spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes.

The leaves

Cut the carrot leaves as thinly as possible and add  to the simmering stew.


Grate the boiled egg on top of the stew and serve directly in the dish.


More tips

  • You don’t need to peel the carrots, but if you choose to, you can use the peel to make chips as a side dish. Simply roast them in the oven with some olive oil, until they’re crispy.
  • Substitute the beans with any other legume: chickpeas, kidney beans or whatever.
  • To store the stew, let it cool down and keep it in the fridge. When reheating, only reheat the quantity you are going to use.

Zero waste cauliflower blinis

The world gets through a lot of cauliflower. And yet, we often throw away even more of it than we eat. Those bits we’re used to binning – the stems and leaves – can be just as tasty as the rest. 

Try grating the stem of your cauliflower and adding it to salads, soups, stews and stock. The leaves are great too – something like kale, with a sweeter flavour. Use them to add texture to dishes, or just roast them until crispy. 

Here’s one of our favourite recipes that uses every last bit of the cauliflower.


  • Cauliflower
  • Egg
  • Grated mozzarella cheese
  • Salt flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Cream cheese

The blinis

Grate the cauliflower florets, putting some aside for later. Add the eggs and the mozzarella and mix it all together.

Heat a pan with olive oil and place the mixture in the pan in small balls. Fry each side until brown.

The caviar

Take the grated cauliflower you set aside and add a pinch of salt.

The carpaccio

Peel the cauliflower stem and cut it in thin slices. Microwave for 15 seconds and season with salt, oil and vinegar.

The leaves

Cut the cauliflower leaves as thinly as possible and season with salt, oil and vinegar.

The puree

Put what’s left in a pot and bring to the boil. Drain and blend together with cream cheese until you get a dense, but fine puree.


Top the blinis with the puree. Add the carpaccio and sprinkle the caviar on top. Finish with the cut cauliflower leaves.

Enjoy your zero waste blinis!

More tips

  • Substitute the cream cheese with your favourite vegan option, or just leave it out if you prefer.
  • Keep the different parts of the recipes in the fridge separately and have fun mixing them up with other ingredients.