ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Food waste is a huge global problem, starting with our own refrigerators. Over this Thanksgiving week, Americans will throw out almost 200 million pounds of turkey alone. So before you toss that bird, listen up. We invited one of the world's great chefs to NPR to help us figure out what to do with holiday leftovers. NPR's Maria Godoy reports.
MARIA GODOY, BYLINE: Massimo Bottura is a rockstar in the food world. His restaurant in Italy has three Michelin stars. But right now he's in the kitchen of NPR's cafeteria, rummaging through a compost bin.
MASSIMO BOTTURA: I found something very interesting, you know, like, onion peels and celery.
GODOY: And giving our cooks a hard time.
BOTTURA: You threw it out, you know? She threw it out.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, I put it in...
BOTTURA: My stuff. Oh, come on. Come on.
GODOY: A recent survey in three U.S. cities found the average American tosses out 2.5 pounds of perfectly edible food each week. At the top of the list - produce and leftovers.
BOTTURA: The leftover is a big problem if you don't have a vision, if you don't have the knowledge of what you can do.
GODOY: Bottura's vision for our Thanksgiving leftovers is a traditional Italian pasta served in broth. It's called...
BOTTURA: Passatelli (speaking Italian).
GODOY: To make passatelli you'll need a turkey carcass, leftover bread, eggs and nutmeg. The full recipe is at npr.org. As for the rest, it depends on what you have on hand. Bottura takes the scraps he found in our compost bin - celery, parsley, an onion chopped roughly, skin and all, even the leafy green tops of carrots. He places them on a baking sheet alongside turkey bones and puts it in the oven.
BOTTURA: Oh, my God. This is - this smells delicious.
GODOY: We cover them in a big pot with water and add more veggie scraps and a parmesan cheese rind. Bottura says it called to him from the fridge.
BOTTURA: Use me. Use me. Touch my soul. And it's going to be incredibly important in the broth.
GODOY: While the broth heats, it's time for bread crumbs. Take those stale rolls from Thanksgiving and grind them up. Bottura does this with a glass bottle to get a finer texture.
BOTTURA: My grandmother could see me doing this now in Washington, she would laugh.
GODOY: The bread crumbs go into a bowl with eggs, some grated parmesan and nutmeg. Bottura kneads it all into a dough, then squeezes it through a ricer to make thick noodles. You can also roll it by hand like gnocchi. By now our broth is ready, so we plop in the noodles and raise the heat to high. Once it reaches a boil...
BOTTURA: The pasta is ready. Here we go.
GODOY: It's delicious, warm, hearty - perfect for a cold fall day.
BOTTURA: Costs? Food costs? Nothing. Emotion? A lot.
GODOY: The cost of not eating our leftovers, on the other hand, is big for our wallets and the planet.
DANA GUNDERS: The average household of four is wasting about $1,800 annually on food that they buy and then just never wind up eating.
GODOY: That's Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
GUNDERS: Households are actually the biggest contributor to the amount of food going to waste across the country, more than grocery stores or restaurants or any other sector.
GODOY: And as food sits in landfills decomposing, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. But Gunders says changing our habits at home really can make a difference. Back in the kitchen, Massimo Bottura says fighting food waste means teaching home chefs to be more creative. His new cookbook, "Bread Is Gold," is full of recipes and tips for home chefs to improvise with whatever's in the fridge.
BOTTURA: This is a mission, you know? Cooking is an act of love. And so if you can transfer that to people, you can change the world.
GODOY: Changing the world one leftover meal at a time. Maria Godoy, NPR News.
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