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Dublin: 10°C Friday 30 October 2020

Good food shouldn't go to waste - here's how to use up leftovers and make something out of nothing

This Monday miso noodle soup recipe will set you up nicely for the week, writes Melissa Hemsley.

Melissa Hemsley Cook and author

GOOD FOOD SHOULD never go to waste, especially when it’s still fresh and perfectly usable.

My Filipino Catholic Mum and army Dad, both sticklers for zero waste, had a saying: ‘Every grain of rice’ – don’t waste a thing, in other words.

When you’re down to that last handful of salad leaves, a quarter of an avocado or a few wilting herbs, think again before you throw them away.

Here are a few suggestions for creating something out of seemingly nothing and saving money in the process so that you can deservedly feel pleased with yourself.


  • Berries: Simmer in a pan to make a compote and use to top yoghurt, porridge or pancakes.
  • Freeze fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to use in desserts and smoothies.
  • Bananas: Cut ripe bananas and freeze to make smoothies and ice cream.
  • Apples/pears and stone fruit: Stew or roast and use in crumble or porridge.
  • Tropical fruit: Freeze pineapples and mangos in chunks for making smoothies.
  • Squeeze any leftover lemon or lime wedges into a jug of water, or use for a smoothie, to brighten up a soup or stew or to make Tahini Lemon Drizzle.

Salad leaves and herbs 

  • Watercress/rocket and fresh herbs: Blend into a Pesto, or whizz up with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and use to top soups, stews or roast veg.
  • Lettuce: Grill it or fry it Asian-style.
  • Spinach: Blend into a smoothie or a pesto or stir into a stew or dhal.

Raw vegetables 

  • Avocado: Add to a smoothie, make guacamole, blend into a dip or into a dressing to make it really creamy. Chop up to top a stew or soup.
  • Cucumber: Pickle it, add to a smoothie or stir-fry.
  • Courgette: Grate into scrambled eggs or smoked trout muffins or slice to top a pizza.
  • Broccoli/cauliflower: Save the stalks! Cut off any really knobbly bits, then thinly slice and cook with the florets, or grate when making Vegetable Rice.

Cooked vegetables 

Instant soup: Use to make a really quick soup: fry onions and/or garlic, add the leftover vegetables, some stock, salt and pepper, plus any herbs and spices, and blend together.

Pizza: Top a pizza or pizza omelette.


  • Coconut milk: Add to a smoothie, soup or curry, or for creamy drinks.
  • Nut milk: Add to a soup or for making smoothies and other drinks.
  • Tinned tomatoes: Simmer with some herbs or spices until thickened, then scramble in some eggs. To ensure you use every last drop in the tin, rinse it out with a little of whatever liquid you are using in a recipe (e.g. stock or water) and add to the dish while it is cooking.

Eat Happy, Melissa Hemsely, high res, flat

Monday miso noodle soup recipe 

Soothing, easy and restorative, this is my ideal Monday night dinner. It will set you up nicely for the week.

Although I always prefer a one-pan recipe, you do need two pans to keep things moving along. However, make it worthwhile by cooking extra noodles and eggs for the week ahead, so think of this recipe as both your Monday night dinner and an investment for the week ahead.

Not to worry if you can’t get seaweed, but do look out for it.

Serves 4

  • 10g (about 8 tablespoons) of seaweed, such as dulse or arame
  • 330g buckwheat noodles
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • 200g shiitake mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 1.2 litres stock/bone broth or water
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cabbage (400g), shredded

Miso stir-in 

  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • Juice of ½ lemon

To serve 

  • Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • ½ lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • Sea salt


1. Soak the seaweed (if using) in water according to the packet instructions, then drain, rinse in fresh water and roughly chop before setting aside. Boil the kettle.

2. Fill a saucepan with boiling water and cook the noodles according to the packet instructions until al dente (about 5 minutes instead of the usual 6–8), then drain, rinse with cold water to stop them cooking, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, melt the oil in a second, larger saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and white parts of the spring onions and fry for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a medium simmer to cook for 2 minutes and then add the cooked noodles back to the pan to heat through for 1 minute before removing from the heat.

5. While the mushrooms are simmering, fill the original pan with boiling water and lower the eggs into the pan. Simmer over a medium heat for 6½ minutes (for a just-runny yolk), then cool the boiled eggs under cold water, peel and halve.

6. Remove the soup pan from the heat, drop in the shredded cabbage and the soaked seaweed, then mix together the ‘miso stir-in’ in a small bowl and stir through the soup.

7. Divide the soup among four bowls, add the egg halves and top with the remaining chopped spring onions and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle the egg halves with sea salt and black sesame seeds and serve with a lemon wedge if you wish.

Melissa Hemsley is a cook and best selling author. 

About the author:

Melissa Hemsley  / Cook and author

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