Pasta, the quintessential sustainable food. Presenting the IPO’s tips to celebrate Stop Food Waste Day

Pasta, the quintessential sustainable food. Presenting the IPO’s tips to celebrate Stop Food Waste Day

It’s a delight for the palate and a healthy part of our diet, but that’s not the end of the story. Pasta is also a sustainable food that’s good for the planet, an extremely important consideration at a time when climate change and emissions are jeopardising the future of our world. Even our small choices about what we eat can affect the health of the ecosystem; so all we need are a few tricks to make eating pasta more environment-friendly. To mark Stop Food Waste Day, here’s some advice from the International Pasta Organisation on how to make a dish of pasta even more sustainable.

Pasta, friend of the environment  – Alongside our eating habits, the figures show the extent to which pasta helps to protect the environment: since 2008 water consumption in the industry has fallen by approximately 20%, some 95% of total waste is recovered and the corresponding emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have reduced by some 21%. This makes the environmental impact of pasta, from production to transformation and consumption, remarkably low: 1 global square metre (i.e. the amount of biologically productive land and sea needed to regenerate the resources used during production) per portion of pasta; and its environmental footprint is minimal, barely equivalent to 150 grammes of CO2. And when it comes to water use, pasta is at the forefront. A plate of pasta with tomato sauce or lasagne is also a sustainable option: to produce a kilo of pasta, a factory actually uses no more than three litres of water.

 Tips for eco-friendly cooking – How can we take direct action to limit the environmental impact of pasta? Cooking, the least sustainable part of the pasta life cycle, accounts for 38% of the total carbon footprint of the entire production chain.

Here are the IPO’s practical tips for reducing the environmental impact of preparing a delicious plate of pasta:

  • Use only the necessary amount of water: on average 1 litre for 100 grammes of pasta, but shorter shapes need about 30% less (700 ml).
  • Always use a lid on the pan to boil the water faster and use less gas or electricity.
  • Never add salt until the water is boiling, because it slows down the boiling process.
  • Use the cooking water to water your plants and avoid wasting more resources.

Anti-waste pasta recipes – We’re always generous when it comes to cooking pasta, and sadly there’s often some left in the pan. But that’s no reason to waste it by chucking it in the bin, or to eat it simply re-heated. There are plenty of delicious recipes for completely new dishes made using leftovers. Here are 10 international anti-waste recipes to help use up leftovers.

  1. United States >> Pasta frittata – Sometimes we cook too much pasta, with the risk of throwing it away. It’s an unforgivable waste for all food lovers, and there’s an easy remedy. Known all over the world but particularly loved in America, the pasta frittata is a clever way to recycle pasta that’s already mixed with the sauce but not eaten. We advise taking the leftover pasta out of the fridge about an hour before use, so it comes to room temperature. Mix the pasta with beaten eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper and cook the frittata. A delicious option is to add some diced mozzarella to the pasta and egg mixture. Plate up and serve your pasta frittata nice and hot.
  2. Italy >> Timballo –A classic traditional Italian anti-waste recipe is definitely the pasta timbale. Just add béchamel, mozzarella and some cooked ham to leftover pasta. Cook in the oven for a few minutes and enjoy your delicious pasta timbale! 
  1. Brasile >> Pasta Snack Burgers – Ingriedients: 100 grams short pasta, preferably small elbows or something similar, 50 grams shredded parmesan cheese, 3 eggs, 100 grams flour, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of salt. Beat eggs lightly in a bowl. Add the cheese, salt, nutmeg, and flour and mix together.  Add the pasta to the bowl. Heat a pan on medium heat with a small amount of olive oil. Separate pasta mixture into portions the shape and size of a hamburger.  Cook 10 minutes on one side, flip and cook for 5 minutes more.
  1. Brasile >> Easy-peasy cheesy pasta with broccoli You can use a couple of end slices of a loaf of bread to make breadcrumbs, cooked broccoli stalks from one day before snack and use cooked macaroni pasta from yesterday’s mac & cheese dinner. Ingredients: 500g cooked Macaroni pasta, 250g grated cheddar cheese, 500ml semi-skimmed milk, 1 cup of cooked broccoli, from yesterday’s snack, 2 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp butter, 2 end slices of bread, blitzed into crumbs, 1tsp mustard, salt & pepper to taste

Directions: For making the cheese sauce, Heat yesterday’s plain cooked pasta. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat. Slowly stir in the flour until the mixture has a sand-like consistency. Slowly whisk in the milk, increasing to a medium heat and cook for a few minutes allowing the sauce to thicken. Add mustard and then add in 200g of the cheese, Season to taste with pepper. Stir well to make sure the cheese is fully melted into the sauce. Place the cooked pasta into an ovenproof dish, and then pour over the cheese sauce. Blitz your bread in a food processor to create breadcrumbs. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese, and sprinkle this over the top of the dish before placing into a preheated oven at 200C/180C fan for 15 minutes. Put the pasta dish in the oven. Remove the pasta from the oven and dish up with the broccoli.

5. Mexico >> Fifteen minute carbonara – Loved all over the world, carbonara can also be an anti-waste dish. Here’s how they make it in This Carbonara makes the most of leftover bacon from breakfast and any hard cheese you might have in the fridge, for a quick and delicious dinner.

Ingredients: 250 g Spaghetti, 100g hard cheese, grated, 4 rashers of leftover smoked bacon, 3 large eggs, Salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Add the bacon to a cold non-stick frying pan and slowly bring up to a medium-high heat. When cooked, remove from the pan and place on a chopping board. Roughly chop and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. When draining, reserve about half a mug of the cooking water. Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix together with a fork. Return the pasta to its cooking pan, on the hob but not on direct heat and quickly stir in the egg mixture. If the mixture seems a little dry add in a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Once well combined, add in the grated cheese and cooked bacon. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

  1. Italy >> Croquettes –How about using pasta at aperitif time? We suggest pasta croquettes, simple and quick to make. Add eggs, grated cheese and breadcrumbs to leftover cooked pasta, form the mixture into croquettes and place a cube of fontina in the centre of each. Coat the croquettes in breadcrumbs and fry in plenty of oil.
  2. UK >> Pasta bake – If you have leftover plain pasta, the best thing to make is a delicious pasta bake. This recipe is much loved in the UK because it’s very similar to their version of mac&cheese. Just add a generous amount of tomato sauce. Meanwhile, make a béchamel: melt the butter, add flour and mix well, then add the milk and keep stirring. Now cover the pasta with the béchamel and bake in the oven.
  3. France >> One Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake – It is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. Think French onion soup, with the addition of pasta, a creamy sauce, and melty Gruyere cheese. The secret to this one-pot pasta is a little bit of wine, to keep those classic French onion soup flavors we all love so much. This pasta dish is great any night of the week but is also perfect for your next dinner party.
  4. Germany >> Schinkennudeln – It is a quick and satisfying ham and pasta casserole for hungry people. One of the best-loved German pasta dishes, just ham, eggs and pasta, of course. Ingredients: Pasta – any shape can be used, for example: Penne, Fussilli, Macaroni; Cooked Ham, onion, eggs, milk, but this can be substituted with cream if you want an especially creamy pasta. Grated cheese, like Emmental, spices – garlic granuals, sweet paprika powder, cayenne papper. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions in salt water until al dente. Drain well. While the pasta is cooking, cube the ham then finely slice the onions. homogenous mass. Mix in the grated cheese. Heat the butter in the frying pan and fry the ham and onions until the onions are translucent. Add the pasta to the pan and fry with the onions and ham briefly. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the noodles/pasta and cook while stirring continuously. Once the egg is cooked and the cheese is melted, remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, sprinkle chopped chives or parsley. Serve immediately.
  5. Malaysia >> Spicy fried spaghetti – Ingredients: vegetable oil, 2-3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped, cooked pasta (spaghetti), leftover shredded cabbage, bean sprouts or other crunchy vegetables (carrots or peppers would be good too), leftover roast meat, 50g cooked prawns, omelette made from 2 eggs, cut into strips, 2 tbsp dry sherry (or mirin or shaoxing wine), 4 spring onions, sliced, to serve thinly sliced fried shallots, to serve (optional).

Sauce: 3 tbsp fish sauce, 3 tbsp tomato ketchup, 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 1 tbsp ketjap manis or dark soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar. Combine all the salt ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and balance if necessary. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the garlic, noodles (or spaghetti), meat, vegetables and prawns. Stir quickly and add about 100ml of water. Stir constantly until the water has evaporated. Add the sauce and stir until well-combined. The sauce should cling to the spaghetti. Add the sherry and stir until the liquid is absorbed.