If you snag one of the 20 seats at Graffiti Earth in New York City, you’ll notice right away that it’s not a typical restaurant: Your placemat will be an old newspaper, the plates will be mismatched and the dishes on the menu will sound like reimagined versions of yesterday’s leftovers — because they are. “We call ourselves the emergency room of the restaurant industry — until an ingredient is really done, we don’t let it die,” says chef Jehangir Mehta. Graffiti Earth is on the path to becoming zero-waste, which means it uses every bit of every ingredient. More restaurants than ever are focusing on sustainability — and you can follow suit at home. Eliminating food waste can save your family up to $1,500 per year, so try some of the restaurant’s tricks in your own kitchen.
Make the stock: Combine the vegetable scraps and 16 cups water in a large pot over medium heat (use water that has already been used to cook vegetables, lentils or beans if you can!). Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the vegetable scraps are very tender, 30 to 45 minutes, adding the herb stems and/or fruit peels during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula. Return the stock to the pot.
Add your creamy ingredients to the pot and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and any additional seasonings to taste.