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April 17, 2024

Low-waste cooking with banana peels

sandwich on a plate

As you probably know, what we eat greatly impacts the environment. As much as I care about eating in a way that minimizes my carbon footprint, it hadn’t occurred to me to cook parts of produce that I normally would throw out, called zero-waste cooking. Enter a recipe from from Priyankra Naik, a chef and food influencer who emphasizes sustainability in her recipes.

Banana Peel “Pulled Pork” Sandwich

With just a few ingredients, the Banana Peel “Pulled Pork” Sandwich looked easy and sounded interesting. Read on for my adventure. Note, I halved Naik’s recipe, and the measurements I include below reflect that. I also used a little more garlic and a little less pepper than the original recipe. My version makes one sandwich.

Chops your fruit and veggies

1. Start with three banana peels and slice thinly. The peels were a little slippery, so I tried both a serrated knife and Santoku for slicing; they worked about the same. Three banana peels will give you about 3/4 cup sliced.

Slicing banana peels.

2. Next, chop about two tablespoons of cilantro.

tearing off cilantro leaves
Use about 2 tablespoons of cilantro.

3. Chop one serrano pepper. I removed a lot of the seeds to tone the heat down. Priyanka recommends a pepper and a half per sandwich, but one is my limit.

a hand cutting a small pepper in half
See Naghma cut peppers bare handed. Don’t be like Naghma.

Do you see how I’m handling the pepper without gloves? THIS IS A HORRIBLE MISTAKE. If you do this, pepper residue will stick to your hands, and taking your contacts in and out will be hell until it wears off. Other touching will also be off limits, trust me.

Finally, thinly slice a clove of garlic.

a cutting board with several ingredients chopped up on it
The four fruits and veggies for your sandwich: banana peels, serrano pepper, garlic, and cilantro.

Saute fruits and veggies

Heat a splash of olive oil and add the peppers and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.

Add the banana peels. Cook on low to medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes while stirring occasionally, until the peels are nice and soft.

banana peel, pepper, and garlic mixture in a pan
Keep the heat fairly low so that the banana peels don’t brown before they’re tender.

Combine 1 tablespoon of tamari and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and add slowly to the pan. Stir until the liquid is gone. Take off the heat and add half of the cilantro.

saucepan with sauteed vegetables
Carefully add the tamari and lemon juice and stir.

Toast the bread

My pan was a black mess at this point, likely because my heat was up to high. If yours isn’t, you can transfer your banana peel mixture to a bowl and use the same pan to toast the bread.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan. Add two pieces of whole grain bread. Toast on each side.

two pieces of toasted bread in a skillet
Make your bread nice and toasty.

Optional: Priyankra’s recipe includes vegan cheese slices. I don’t like cheese, so I left it off. If you want the cheese, add it to each slice of toasted bread and let it melt before removing the bread from the heat.

Assembly

Pile the banana peel mixture on one slice of toast, then sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Top with the second slice of toast, and you’re done.

sandwich on a plate
My banana peel sandwich, which I should have put on a pattern-free plate for a better photo. Lesson learned.

My sandwich was delicious — very flavorful, if a bit hot, which is a little embarrassing since I’m Indian and should be able to handle that level of heat. Next time, I might forgo the serrano and just add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

While I don’t think I’ll ever get invested in regularly cooking parts of fruits and vegetables that I normally get rid of, Banana Peel Sandwiches are very much worth making.

My two-minute Banana Peel Sandwich video

@hawkandhandsawjewelry

Tried a delicious #plantbasedrecipe from @Chef Priyanka 🌶🌱 Easy to make and yummy. #vegansandwich #ecofriendlyliving #fastrecipes

♬ HATE YOUR GUTS – INJI

Resources for Plant-Based Recipes

For more eco-friendly recipes, check out some of my favorite books and blogs.

The Modern Tiffin by Priyankra Naik

If you like the Banana Peel Sandwich, check out Naik’s multi ethnic-influenced cookbook. Her website is full of recipes too, including more that are low and no-waste.

pancakes sprinkled with cilantro
Chef Priyankra’s Broccoli Stem Pancakes

Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes by Ani Phyo

If raw food sounds unappetizing to you, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised when you try it. Among my favorites in Phyo’s book are Polenta with Mushroom Ragout and Stuffed Anaheim Chilis with Mole Sauce. An extra bonus about raw cuisine is that since you’re not cooking, it takes hardly any time to prepare.

While her website is no longer being updated, you can still find a few recipes there, both raw and not.

Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Moskowitz has written several books since Vegan with a Vengeance, but this one is my favorite — I used to make the chickpea casserole all the time. Also visit her blog Post Punk Kitchen for a ton of recipes.

Jacque’s Bouef Bourguignon from Post Punk Kitchen, named Jacque because it contains jackfruit.

Love & Lemons Simple Feel Good Food by Jeanine Donofrio

I actually have not purchased this book yet, but considering the blog has a million great recipes, I don’t think you’ll go wrong with it. Or, just go to the blog for the Potato Leek Soup and other delicious things.

Love and Lemons’ Potato Leek Soup

The Korean Vegan by Joanne Molinaro

I love Molinaro’s tagline: “I veganize Korean food. I Koreanize everything else.” If preparing Korean cuisine is new to you, you’ll find Molinaro’s book a good, unintimidating intro. Also, there are many recipes on her blog.

Got a food blog or book to recommend? Drop it in the comments.

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