Don't Cook the Planet: Deliciously Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time

Don't Cook the Planet: Deliciously Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time

by Emily Abrams

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Choosing meals prepared with fresh, natural ingredients isn’t just healthy, it’s good for the earth. In Don’t Cook the Planet, author Emily Abrams and an all-star collection of chefs and ecoactivists share more than 70 delicious recipes as well as tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint. Each contributor—including Stephanie


Choosing meals prepared with fresh, natural ingredients isn’t just healthy, it’s good for the earth. In Don’t Cook the Planet, author Emily Abrams and an all-star collection of chefs and ecoactivists share more than 70 delicious recipes as well as tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint. Each contributor—including Stephanie Izard, Top Chef star and executive chef at Girl & the Goat; Chevy Chase; MasterChef judge and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot; actor Joshua Henderson; and many others—provides easy, everyday ideas that will save you money and stock your kitchen with fresh, delicious foods while preserving the planet for generations to come. The author, an 18-year-old activist, approaches sustainability from a personal perspective, striving to make changes that will impact her generation, and in so doing, has created a cookbook that explains how positive food choices significantly impact one’s environment as well as one’s health.

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Don't Cook the Planet

By Emily Abrams, Stephen McDonald, Steven Karl Metzer

Triumph Books

Copyright © 2014 Emily Abrams
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62368-798-4


soups & starters

chicken soup

Tom Colicchio, founder of Craft Restaurants, judge on Top Chef New York City, NY

1 chicken, quartered, with bones intact (i.e., do not remove breast meat from
breastbone, including necks and giblets)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
2 leeks, washed and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt
1½ cups small shell pasta (optional)
Freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

This soup is a typical, relaxed, Sunday evening meal for me and my family. I serve this soup the way my grandmother did, with the Parmigiano and olive oil. Every grandmother has a chicken soup recipe, so mine certainly isn't the definitive recipe, but it's still my favorite, and I enjoy sharing that with my kids today the same way my grandmother did with me.

Place 1 gallon water and the chicken in a stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer gently, skimming regularly, until broth is fragrant, for about 30 minutes.

Add the vegetables and thyme and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and divide the cooked pasta among 4 bowls.

Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a serving dish. Ladle the broth and vegetables over the pasta and serve with grated Parmigiano, more freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle the chicken with coarse sea salt and serve alongside the soup.

chilled english pea soup

Anthony Martin, executive chef, Tru Chicago, IL

1¼ cup finely sliced onion Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup English peas
2 cups vegetable bouillon, heated
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves

Sweat onions in olive oil until soft but not brown. Add English peas and cook over medium heat, 2 minutes. Add the hot vegetable bouillon to the peas and onions and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until peas are just done, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook or soup will discolor. Remove from heat and immediately puree while adding mint and cream. Strain and cool in ice bath. Serve immediately to retain bright green color. Makes 2 servings.

"Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that if all Americans eliminated just one quarter pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road."

roasted vegetable bouillon

Wouter Pors, chef, created for Fay Hartog-Levin, former Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands The Hague, Netherlands

2 leeks
4 carrots
2 ribs celery
1 celeriac
1 large parsnip
3 onions
6 cloves garlic
20 pieces shiitake mushrooms
1/3 cup olive oil
2 branches fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorns
2 star anise
10 pieces of whole cardamom pods
2 lemons, peeled
3/4 cup of white wine
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups water
3 Lapsang Souchong single-serve teabags

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Clean and slice the leeks, carrots, celery, celeriac, parsnip, onions, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms into 3/4-inch pieces. Put all the vegetables into a big bowl and mix with the olive oil. Place the vegetables into an oven-safe roasting dish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown. Place roasted vegetables into a large soup pot. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, star anise, cardamom, lemons, white wine, salt, and water. Let simmer for 2 hours on stovetop.

Strain mixture through a cheesecloth; set aside vegetables for another use. Season broth as desired with salt and pepper. Just before serving add the Lapsang Souchong teabags to broth, allowing them to soak for 2-3 minutes, to give that smoky flavor. Do not add teabags until just before serving, otherwise broth becomes bitter.

"We're at a moment in time right now in this country and in the world. We're threatened, all of us, everybody everywhere by the same thing. America is the garden of the world; more things are grown here than any other country in the entire planet. And the farmers are on the front lines of climate change. They're living the difference. They love the world, they see the world, they see the climate. They see the sun and the earth, that's what they do. Farmers today, it is all in their hands."

— Neil Young speaking at Farm-Aid concert, September 21, 2013

salsa fresca

Jan Dee & David Crosby, singer-songwriter Santa Barbara, CA

4 roma tomatoes, cut into cubes
4 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into cubes with juice
1 diced red onion
1 diced Vidalia onion (white or yellow)
3 sliced scallions (green onions)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small diced jalapeño pepper
Serrano peppers (add if you want spicy)
Habanero pepper (be careful, they are especially hot)
6 diced greek pepperoncini with juice
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon

The following should be leaves only, fresh not dried, and no

1 teaspoon diced cilantro
1 teaspoon diced basil
1 teaspoon diced parsley
1 teaspoon diced dill
1 teaspoon diced oregano

Fold all ingredients together in a large container.

As time goes by, the ingredients will "marry," and every day the taste will alter. It will always become better than it was when first made.

garden gazpacho

John Englander, oceanographer, author ofHigh Tide on Main StreetBoca Raton, FL

1 46-ounce can of V8 Juice as a base (Use pure vegetable Original or Spicy)
1-2 ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 medium size onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco or other pepper sauce

Pour half can of V8 in blender.

Cut tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in half and put one half in the blender.

Add to the blender:

• garlic

• Worcestershire sauce

• pepper

• salt

• tabasco or other pepper sauce

Blend until smooth, but with chunks of vegetable still visible.

Take half of remaining half of tomatoes, cucumber, and onion and put in blender BRIEFLY to partially blend. Put mix in large bowl or pitcher. Stir in balance of the can of V8.

Dice the remaining quarter of tomatoes, cucumber, and onion to be used as garnish.

Put resulting blend in refrigerator until ready to serve. Put in bowls. Garnish to suit.

tex-mex freshy-fresh guacamole

Edie Brickell & Paul Simon, singer-songwriters New Canaan, CT

1 lime
3 ripe organic avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into large chunks
1 small finely chopped organic Vidalia onion
1 medium chopped ripe red organic tomato
1 medium clove of finely chopped or minced garlic
½ teaspoon of sea salt (more or less to taste)
2 thin slices of fresh jalapeño, minced or chopped (optional but gives it a nice
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro (optional)

We eat all organic at home and buy from Whole Foods or local farm stands, limiting our meals at restaurants to special occasions.

Eating home-cooked foods and snacks throughout the year, rather than ordering in from restaurants or buying packaged treats, seems to have reduced the number of colds and illnesses we experience, thereby saving on tissues (and packaging/plastics) for a greener existence.

Set your lime aside and mix all other ingredients together until well blended, then cut open your lime and squirt it over the blend. Stir it a few times and serve right away with white or yellow organic sea salted corn chips.

Serves 3 hungry snackers or 5 to 6 nibblers.

kale chips

Robyn O'Brien, author, activist, founder of AllergyKids Foundation Los Angeles, CA

1 bunch of kale
2 tablespoon olive oil
1¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (optional)

A friend suggested kale chips. Whatever. Really? Total roughage, was all I could think. But we tried them and got totally hooked. Loaded with nutritional goodness, kale is a powerhouse. And very easy to grow in a backyard garden. This recipe is one that our 8-year-old loves to do on her own. It's that simple.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse kale and chop it into small pieces. Place kale in a large bowl with oil and salt. Add optional ingredients, if desired. With hands, toss and mix ingredients together. Place kale on baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (until kale is dark green and crispy). Cool and serve.

"In 2009, Americans spent $10.6 billion to drink around 8.4 million gallons of water."

Q: why choose tap water?

Creating plastic bottles consumes energy and money. From pumping the water to manufacturing and transporting bottles, we spend billions of dollars for something that we otherwise have for free coming from our sinks.

According to The Ripple Effect, "In 2009, Americans spent $10.6 billion to drink around 8.4 million gallons of just bottled water." To drink eight glasses of tap water a day for an entire year costs around 49 cents for the average New Yorker; the same amount of water costs $1,400 a year for people consuming commercial bottled water.

A study done by Pacific Institute found that it takes about 17 million barrels of oil to create the amount of bottled water that Americans consumed in 2006. That number is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to fuel 1 million American cars and trucks for a year. In contrast, tap water does not require production of plastic bottles, most of which are not properly recycled. In 2006, the polyethylene terephthalate (PET plastics) produced more than 2.5 millions tons of C02.

Not only is tap water better for the environment, studies have shown that bottled water is not safer or purer than drinking from the tap in most American cities. According to a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council, there is no evidence that bottled water is significantly healthier or provides more minerals than tap water.

So fill a glass with tap water, and drink to your health!


salads & sides

deconstructed caesar

Graham Elliot, executive chef, Graham Elliot Restaurant Chicago, IL

For the lettuce:

3 heads gem lettuce or baby Romaine

For the Anchoiade Dressing:

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon juice
3/4 cup grated Parmesan 1 teaspoon anchovy oil
1 cup grape seed oil
3 tablespoons water (if needed)

For the "Twinkie" filling:

2 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 ounce half-and-half
2 ounces grated Parmesan
1½ teaspoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt to taste

Brioche twinkie

½ loaf of uncut brioche Pullman (square loaf)
½ cup butter

For the Parmesan fluff:

4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the garniture:

12 fillets Spanish anchovy
Freshly ground black pepper

For the lettuce:

Cut two-thirds of the way down from the top of the lettuce. Discard the upper part or reserve it for another use. Cut the bottom one-third of the lettuce into 4 equal pieces. Repeat with the remaining 2 heads of lettuce.

Soak all pieces in cold water to remove any dirt. Pat dry and place in a bowl for serving.

For the Anchoiade Dressing:

In a high speed blender, place all ingredients except for Parmesan, oils, and water. Puree until smooth. Add Parmesan and puree for 1 minute. Slowly add oils in a small steady stream while blender is running. Pause every 10 seconds to make sure oil is fully incorporated.

If the dressing gets too thick, adjust consistency with a touch of water.

For the "Twinkie" filling:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fill a pastry bag with the mixture. Reserve for later.

Brioche twinkie

Using a serrated knife, remove all of the crust from the bread. Cut 1 x 3inch rectangles from the brioche.

Melt the butter in a small saucepot. Brush all sides of the bread rectangles with melted butter.

In a nonstick sauté pan, gently brown the rectangles on medium heat. Remove rectangles from pan and rest on a paper towel to soak up any excess butter.

For the Parmesan fluff:

Using a microplane, carefully grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano over a bowl.

For the assembly:

Use a rounded spoon end to hollow out two holes in the breadsticks.

Pipe in the "Twinkie" filling until each breadstick is stuffed full. Place breadsticks on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for 3 minutes to warm the center.

Using a paintbrush, coat each piece of lettuce generously with dressing and roll in Parmesan fluff. Place each breadstick on a plate and gently rest 3 pieces of lettuce atop.

Garnish with a Spanish anchovy on each piece of lettuce and freshly ground black pepper.

"Locavore: A person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced foods."

— Oxford Dictionary

garlic vinaigrette

Alice Waters, author, activist, chef/proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant Berkeley, CA

1 small garlic clove Salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar Fresh-ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Garlic vinaigrette is the dressing I make most often. The quantities listed are only an approximate guide because garlics, vinegars, and oils vary so much in strength and intensity. The first step in making a vinaigrette is to macerate garlic in vinegar and salt. The vinegar softens the raw taste of the garlic, and the salt tames the sharp edge of the vinegar. Sometimes I like to mix different kinds of vinegar; a few drops of balsamic vinegar can temper a wine vinegar that's too strong. Taste for balance and adjust by adding more salt or vinegar; it should be neither too salty nor too acidic. The mixture should taste delicious by itself.

Put a peeled garlic clove and 2 big pinches of salt in a mortar and pound into a purée with no chunks remaining. Add the wine vinegar, grind in some black pepper, and taste for the balance of salt and vinegar. Allow to macerate for a few minutes, and whisk in olive oil. Taste the dressing with a leaf of lettuce. It should taste bright and lively without being too acidic or too oily; adjust the salt, vinegar, or oil as needed. Makes 4 servings.

To dress a salad, put several generous handfuls of washed and dried lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with about three quarters of the vinaigrette, and taste. The lettuce should be lightly coated but not overdressed; add more dressing as needed.

Use a finely diced shallot instead of, or in addition to, the garlic paste.

A squeeze of lemon juice added to the dressed salad at the last moment can add a brightness that brings up all the flavors.

sundance salad

Robert Redford, actor, director, founder of Sundance Film Festival Sundance, UT


Artisan Greens
Soaked Dried Currants
Candied Pecans (see recipe)
Herbed Goat Cheese (Drake Family Farms)
Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe)

Sherry Vinaigrette

1 shallot, sliced
1 3-inch sprig fresh thyme leaves
½ cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup blended oil

Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves
½ cup powdered sugar
Oil for deep frying
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch salt

For vinaigrette, add all ingredients except the oil in a blender. While blender is on high, slowly add oil to emulsify.

For candied pecans, blanch pecans in boiling water. Remove from water and place in mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and stir to coat. Deep fry pecans at 375°F until they no longer bubble, approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with cayenne and salt.

Toss greens, currants, and pecans with vinaigrette. Top with goat cheese.

"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

— Robert Redford

I am so happy that you are doing something to raise the awareness of global warming and sustainability of food sources. I love to cook and I have four sons who might want to become chefs one day as well. My hope is that they will have the same opportunity to cook the same foods that I grew up cooking. I also love to fish; however, I always "catch and release" which returns the fish back into the water. I also hope my youngest son will one day get to fish and enjoy the ocean's bounty.

We as a company love to support our local farmers for so many reasons: The food just tastes better. The farmers use less gas and auto emissions to get the food to us. We keep the money close to home to help support our local economy. Also, we feel good about helping folks we know rather than a big nameless faceless mainline company.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your efforts. Great luck to you!

— John Chiakulas


Excerpted from Don't Cook the Planet by Emily Abrams, Stephen McDonald, Steven Karl Metzer. Copyright © 2014 Emily Abrams. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Emily Abrams is an 18-year-old activist who has been involved in the movement to fight climate change since 2007. She lives in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Robert Kennedy Jr. is a radio host, an activist, and an attorney specializing in environmental law. He is the son of Robert "Bobby" Kennedy Sr., the former United States Senator for New York and the 64th U.S. Attorney General, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.

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