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Don't bin banana skins!

From banana peel to melon pips and onion skins - believe it or not, some of the most powerful nutrients in our fruit and veg are in the bits we throw away.

Italian chef Aldo Zilli has been cooking with ingredients that may surprise you for a number of years. and has created some delicious dishes from disregarded scraps for us to try.

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Banana peel cheesecake

* Remove the tough top and bottom ends of the skins, then soak for several days to soften them. Change the soaking water each day.

* Once the water runs clear, boil, strain and puree the skins to add a sweet, datelike flavour to cakes and cheesecake.

* To make banana peel cheesecake, mix 175 g crushed digestive biscuits and 75 g melted butter and press into the base of a cake tin before placing in the fridge to firm up.

* Next whisk together 700g ricotta, three eggs, 140ml double cream, 75g caster sugar, 3 tbsp plain flour and the zest of an orange.

* Carefully fold in 3tbsp banana skin puree, then pour over the biscuit base. Bake for one hour 25 minutes at 150c/300f/ Gas 2. Allow to cool before removing from tin.

Watermelon rind salad

With olive oil, honey and gorgonzola

Melon seed snacks

* Rinse and rub melon seeds in a fine sieve to remove all the flesh. Allow the seeds to dry on a clean tea towel and then toast them in a frying pan or roast them in a hot oven with a little spritz of oil.

* Turn the seeds occasionally. When they are browned all over, sprinkle with a dash of salt.

* Once cool, eat as a nutritious snack or sprinkle over salads for added crunch.

Broccoli leaf pasta topping

* Cook the leaves quickly, as you would spinach. Blanch in boiling water, then fry with a little olive oil and garlic and add to pasta.

* To get the best from broccoli stalks, make a salad by slicing off the tough outer peel and shaving what remains into ribbons with a potato peeler. Scatter with lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan curls.

Watermelon rind smoothies

* Use a vegetable peeler to remove the green skin from the rind, then put the white section in a blender with a squeeze of lime and plenty of chilled pink watermelon flesh.

* Blitz everything together to make a nutritious smoothie that the whole family will love.

* Another option is to slice the white rind thinly, then cook in a heavy based saucepan with several tablespoons of sugar and a knob of butter until the sugar starts to bubble, thicken and turn brown.

* Make sure you don't allow the sugar or fruit to burn.

* Serve your sticky, sweet watermelon rinds with vanilla ice cream.

Pineapple core over crisps

* I often make tasty pineapple crisps from the core.

* Just slice it thinly and place a single layer on baking parchment or a lightly oiled baking tray and dry in the oven on the lowest setting for around four hours.

* Turn the slices over every hour or so to ensure even drying.

* You should store your dried pineapple in an airtight jar and eat as a snack, sprinkled over porridge or as a decoration fors desserts and cakes.

Ginger skin hot toddy

* You can add ginger peel to soup for flavour, but don't forget to remove it before eating.

* The peel can be used to pep up fresh juices. Put a kiwi, banana, some spinach and a little ginger into a juicer.

* Alternatively, steep ginger peel in boiling water for a few minutes to make an aromatic tea. I drink this as a tonic if I am feeling under the weather. It seems to help me recover more quickly.

Onion skin stew

* Use onion skin in stocks to add extra flavour. As quercetin is water soluble, you get all the health benefits too.

* Rip the onion skin into large pieces and gently simmer in stocks, soups and stews for extra flavour and colour.

* Don't forget to fish out the onion skin before serving.

Lemon peel chicken

* I use citrus peel in a lot of my cooking. You can grate it over desserts and salads and add it to cakes and cocktails.

* I also put large slices of citrus peel and butter under the skin when I roast a chicken.

* The oils in the peel bring out the flavour of the meat. A few slices of lemon peel in a bottle of olive oil will flavour it beautifully.

* Citrus peels freeze well, too. Freeze large pieces and drop into drinks as a fancy alternative to ice cubes.

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