Upstaged by most other ingredients in recipe books, water is the unsung hero of cooking. We use it for cleaning, boiling, thinning the sauce we forgot about when the phone rang. Yet, alarmingly, 1 in 10 people worldwide still don't have clean water, and climate change is making things worse.

We teamed up with Belu for Chop and Chat, a video series exploring the link between climate change and water scarcity, and ways we can be more climate friendly in the kitchen.

The recipes below have been designed by top chefs and food writers to encourage us all to be more sustainable with our efforts in the kitchen.

Choose your recipe

Max La Manna's Romesco Risotto

Romesco sauce is that friend you know will get on with just about anyone. Liven up your leftover veg or introduce it to your store cupboard essentials. Chuck in some stale bread to thicken things up and you've got a winner.

chef presenting romesco risotto
Max La Manna's Romesco risotto
WaterAid/ Charlie Newton
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers (350g drained weight), or 5 red peppers roasted
  • 50g walnuts, toasted, plus more to serve
  • 1.3 litres veg stock warmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 150ml white wine salt and black pepper

To serve:

  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Grated parmesan
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Drain the red peppers, reserving the water, then blitz half of the roasted peppers with the toasted walnuts and 50ml of the veg stock. Season well with salt and black pepper. Add the reserved water to the remaining stock. Roughly chop the remaining red peppers.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large high-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion with a big pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, tomato purée and smoked paprika. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the risotto rice. Stir and cook until the rice starts to make popping sounds.
  3. Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat down and add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring until it's all absorbed. Be patient, risotto is best made slowly! Once the stock is all absorbed, stir through the red pepper and walnut sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the rice is a still a bit chalky, add a splash of water and cook a little longer; the rice should be cooked through with a slight bite. Stir through the chopped red peppers in the final minute of cooking.
  4. Spoon into bowls, top with chopped parsley, grated parmesan, a scattering of reserved toasted crushed walnuts, lemon zest, a drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper.

Denai Moore's baked herby meatballs

Another creative way to use up your stale loaves. Sorry birdies, we've got meatballs to make.

chef holding out dish of meatballs
Denai Moore's baked herby meatballs
WaterAid/ Charlie Newton

For the meatballs:

  • 245g plant-based mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 handful coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, grounded with pestle & mortar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 40g stale bread, blended in food processor
  • 70ml plant milk of your choice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 shallot, sliced into half moons
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 slices of bread, torn by hand

To serve:

  • Thick plant-based Greek style yogurt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs with spices and milk in a bowl and set aside to rehydrate.
  3. Once the breadcrumbs are hydrated, add plant-based mince with the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix with your hands to combine.
  4. Scoop and shape your meatballs using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon.
  5. Fry the meatballs in a frying pan until golden brown on all sides.
  6. In a baking dish, add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, brown sugar, chilli flakes, shallot and thyme.
  7. Add in the hand torn stale bread with the tomatoes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Nestle in the meatballs, and then get it in the oven to roast for 30 minutes.
  10. Crush the tomatoes and roasted garlic with the back of a spoon to create a sauce.
  11. Add lemon juice to the yogurt and season with salt.
  12. Spread the cold yogurt on a base plate and top with the roasted tomatoes, meatballs and crispy croutons.
  13. Top with more herbs and serve on its own or with rice.

Chantelle Nicholson's courgette and miso salad

All the shades of healthy green, this is a seasonal summer special.

plate of pea courgette and fennel salad
Chantelle Nicholson's pea courgette and fennel salad
WaterAid/ Aśka Faron
  • 2 courgettes, halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 80g cooked chickpeas
  • ½ tsp vadouvan spice blend
  • handful of sugar snap peas, finely chopped
  • handful of cooked broad beans
  • ¼ bulb of fennel, finely sliced
  • small handful of fennel fronds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
  • salt

For the miso aioli:

  • 50g aquafaba
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 200ml rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  1. For the miso aioli, place the aquafaba, miso paste and mustard into a jug. Using a stick blender, blend together then slowly drizzle the oil in, little by little until emulsified. Finish with the vinegar.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan. When hot, season the courgettes with salt then pop into the pan, flesh side down. Press down gently on the courgettes to brown. Cook for around 4-6 minutes until golden then flip over and cook on the other side, at a slightly lower heat. When the courgettes are finished cooking, pop the other measure of vegetable oil into the pan. Add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute then add the chickpeas. Season with salt then using a fork, crush the chickpeas. Cook until light golden.
  3. Mix the olive oil and sherry vinegar together to make a vinaigrette. Combine the sliced peas and broad beans with a little salt and half of the vinaigrette. Pop the sliced and chopped fennel in the bowl with the remaining vinaigrette, with a pinch of salt.
  4. To serve, place the chickpeas in the bottom of a bowl. Top with the pea and bean mix. Add the courgettes. Dollop the miso aioli around then finish with the fennel salad.

Dave Mothersill's mackerel pancake

Using one of the UK's most sustainable fish, pancake day will never look the same again.

plate of sliced mackerel fillets
Dave Mothersill's mackerel pancake dish
WaterAid/ Aśka Faron
  • 4 x Mackerel gutted, pin boned and filleted 
  • 100g salt
  • 100g sugar 
  • 1 lemon 
  • 1 lime
  • 10g toasted and ground cumin, fennel seeds, black pepper and coriander seeds

For the tartare:

  • Diced mackerel belly
  • 2tsp capers
  • 2tsp pickled diced cucumber
  • 1tsp chopped chives
  • 2tsp elderflower vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper

For the pickled gooseberries:

  • 50g washed gooseberries 
  • 100ml elderflower vinegar 
  • 25g sugar

For the spelt pancake:

  • 490g spelt
  • 290ml water
  • 25g sugar
  • 10g bicarbonate soda
  • 10g salt
  • 60g yogurt 

For the buttermilk sorbet:

  • 500ml buttermilk 
  • 120g creamed horseradish 
  • 75g liquid glucose 
  • 100ml water
  • 25g sugar
  • Juice of one lemon

For the elderflower ketchup:

  • 200ml elderflower vinegar 
  • 3g agar
  1. Mix sugar, salt and spices together, add the zest of the citrus and mix together. Place the mackerel skin side down on a clean tray and sprinkle a thin layer of the cure over the top before placing in the fridge for 10 minutes. Rinse, pat dry and trim into a neat rectangle, reserving the belly for the tartare.
  2. For the tartare, combine all ingredients together and check the seasoning.
  3. For the pickled gooseberries, bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil then chill. Add the gooseberries and reserve till needed.
  4. For the pancake, soak the spelt with the water for at least 3 hours then blend in a high powered blender till a fine purée.  Place in a bowl, cover and keep somewhere warm for 12 hours. Combine the remaining ingredients then cook in a frying pan with a touch of oil until golden brown on each side
  5. For the sorbet, bring the water, sugar and glucose to the boil then remove from the heat. Whisk in the buttermilk, horseradish and lemon juice. Infuse for 1 hour then strain. Churn in a ice cream machine and reserve till needed.
  6. For the ketchup, bring vinegar to the boil, whisk in agar and continue whisking for 2 minutes. Pour into a small container then chill. Place the set ketchup in a blender and blitz till smooth.
  7. Brush the mackerel with a little elderflower oil and cook under a low grill for 2 minutes just to warm through then rest somewhere warm. Use a sharp knife and cut into 3 equal pieces. Pipe a few dots of the elderflower ketchup onto a plate. Arrange the mackerel pieces, add a few pickled gooseberries, elderflower oil and some shiso leaves and a rocher of the buttermilk sorbet. Warm the spelt pancake and top with the mackerel tartar and serve on the side.

Stephanie Moir's Thai Green Curry

A flavoursome classic which works with any of your vegetable scraps. Use frozen onion or jarred garlic for extra zero-food-waste points.

Stephanie Moir sitting in car holding a drink
Stephanie Moir
  • 400g tofu, cubed
  • 4 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables
  • 250g white basmati rice, cooked
  • 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
  • 1 fresh lime, quartered
  1. In a preheated pan, cook your cubes of tofu until crispy on both sides, then remove from the pan.
  2. Add your chopped onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook until softened.
  3. Add the tofu back in and mix in your vegetables Cook until the vegetables are softened.
  4. Add the Thai green curry paste (a vegan-friendly brand is Blue Dragon). Stir until everything is coated well.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a summer and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice with a lime wedge (optional).

Sabrina Gidda's market vegetable salad

A super salad that leaves no waste behind. Inject extra flavour with the oil from the anchovies. And give your plants a good drink by saving your cooking water.

vegetable salad dish
Sabrina Gidda's market vegetable salad
WaterAid/ Aśka Faron

Recipe serves two as a main.

For the salad:

  • 150g green beans 
  • 150g runner beans 
  • 4 spring onions 
  • 150g baby new potatoes 
  • Mint  
  • Tarragon 
  • Dill 

For the pangrattato:

  • 130g stale bread 
  • Oil from anchovy tin 
  • 5 anchovies 
  • Parsley 
  • Zest from lemon 

For the dressing:

  • Juice from lemon 
  • 80ml virgin olive oil  
  • 40ml pickle juice from gherkins / chillis / pickled veg you may have in jar in fridge, if not use any vinegar you like.  
  1. Coarsley grate your bread or blend in a chopper until a coarse crumb. Fry in a pan with the oil from the anchovies and the anchovies - this should be over a medium heat until evenly golden. Set to one side and finish with the zest of the lemon and some chopped parsley  
  2. Blanch your vegetables in just enough water to cover them, this should take 3 minutes or so. Do not salt your water, so you can use the water to water your plants! 
  3. Shake together dressing in jar. To assemble salad, toss well with herbs, dressing and check seasoning. Top the salad with pangrattato and serve! 

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