I have this thing with vegetable peelers. I don’t like them. They are the fiddliest contraptions and serve no real purpose for me. I am not the kind of person who peels every fruit and vegetable in sight. I love keeping the skin on, wherever possible. After all that is where so much of the fibre and nutrients are! Have you ever thought of what gives apples their actual crunch? Or how many vitamins you are losing out on when you peel a potato? Do you know that those scraggly things on the carrot are fibres? I love to use whole garlic in a tempering for dal or my Chitrapur Saraswat preparations. Onion with the peel on (washed of course) adds beautiful colour (and flavour) to stock. And nothing gives a better texture to roasted potatoes than their skin.
Of course, some fruits like the banana, papaya or even mango cannot be peeled – but don’t underestimate them. In today’s world, where sustainability is playing a major role when it comes to using the full beast (in meats), it is imperative to try and minimise wastage from even vegetables and fruits. You can pickle the rind of a watermelon – if you want – and don’t even underestimate citrus peels – you can pickle them, candy them or simply zest them for a burst of flavour.
True, a lot of people talk about how pesticides and chemicals (and wax) tend to settle on the skin of fruits and vegetables – but there are ways to wash them off – the simplest way is to scrub them well. Or else use potassium permanganate (in minuscule portions, of course). There are also fancier products to clean vegetables and fruits, without reducing their nutritional content.
So, next time, think before you peel.
This recipe for Spiced Roasted Pumpkin (yes, with the thick green skin) Salad with Rocket Leaves in a Balsamic Dressing uses the whole pumpkin. The method is easy peasy – marinate the pumpkin slices in a few spices and olive oil. Roast them in the oven till tender, toss with the rest of the ingredients and top with toasted sunflower seeds. This is the ideal healthy salad – full of nutrients when you are in the mood to binge on healthy food.