Sunday, January 29, 2012


So. . .I wanted to do a posting on uses of tahini that didn't involve hummus. Now I love hummus, but decided I didn't need to showcase it again. Because I've done that. More than once. But the information I found pretty much involved odd recipes that probably tasted great, but didn't sound wonderful (one for Sesame Flapjacks With Tahini-Maple Syrup was intriguing, but didn't sound like me), or using thinned tahini as a sauce for almost anything, which seemed basic to me, and I'm feeling kind of sophisticated today. My husband always laughs when I say that, but you may not know me, so I might get away with it here.

Anyway. . .the reason I was looking for tahini uses is the 1/3 a can of tahini I have after making hummus. So I decided to share some of the ways I use up leftovers:

  •  Reduce: Anything that started out thin can usually be thickened.
    1. Brothy soup: You can thicken a liquid soup with any number of things. . .heavy cream, butter, pesto, TAHINI (see! in a sauce!), peanut butter, flour, cornstarch, mashed potatoes, or cooking with some raw pasta or rice and letting the starch thicken it. You can also thicken soup by pureeing (I would only do this with vegetables, so if you have meat in your soup, pull it out, puree the soup, and either add it back or serve it on the side). To thicken, start with 1 tablespoon of whatever thickener you want for each cup of soup. In the case of rice or pasta, I'd add a handful per 2 cups, and plan on 15 minutes for the pasta to cook, 20 minutes for white rice, and 40 minutes for brown rice.
    2. Vegetables:  Mashed potatoes or cooked soft vegetables can be thickened into all kinds of wonderful new incarnations. 
      • Fritters: chop and saute some onions, an egg, and 1/4 cup of flour per cup of veggies.  Press most of the water out of the veggies, and if you can cut them into small pieces (as with broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) do so. Stir together the onion, egg, flour, and vegetables. You can add other flavorings if you like--garlic, chopped herbs, or a little cayenne. Form into patties and saute for about 5 minutes on each side.
      • Sauce:  Mix the veggies together, and thicken it with any of the thickeners listed above to form a sauce. Add a a few chopped mushrooms or sauteed chicken or browned ground beef. You can then serve it over pasta, rice, or millet.
    3. Desserts:  If you have soupy-sweet-stuff leftovers (like chocolate milk, fruit sauce, or poaching liquid), the same principle applies. 
      • Pudding: Chocolate milk is a fine base for chocolate pudding with the addition of a few teaspoons of cornstarch (per 2 cups), maybe 1t extra cocoa, and a carefully added egg (heat the milk first, then add a little to the egg while constantly beating, then add that mixture to the hot chocolate milk). I would try leftover eggnog with the same recipe, substituting a smaller amount of nutmeg for the cocoa.
      • Syrup: Fruit sauce or poaching liquid can be thickened by boiling it down while carefully watching it, or if it isn't super-thin, you can stir a little butter into the sauce to thicken it.  Use it for pancake syrup, over cake, fruit, or yogurt.
  • Thin: Many things that start out thick can be thinned.  It's like a culinary George Carlinism--to reduce something liquid is the opposite of thinning it. Thinning is faster than reducing, because you basically just add liquid.  Here are some great ways to think thin with leftovers:
    1. Soup: Creamy soup can be thinned to become the base of a more brothy one. Spaghetti, alfredo, or other sauce can be thinned to become soup. Mashed potatoes can also be thinned, add a little garlic and a chopped and well-washed leek, and--tada!--you have a delicious potato soup.
    2. Sauce: Peanut butter, TAHINI, pesto, or miso can be thinned and used as a sauce with no other changes, or add a little soy sauce, lemon juice, or other addition to enhance the flavor. 
    3. Dessert:  The last little bits of jam, crystallized maple sugar, or honey can also be thinned and used. Thin them with water or apple juice and use it to steep fruit or in place of some liquid in a cake or muffin recipe.
  • Reuse/Recycle: Other ways to transform foods.
    1. Leftovers to Fancy Breads:  Puree vegetables and mix into bread or biscuit mixes for gourmet bread. You can also use any bits of leftover fresh or dried herbs, grates bits and pieces of cheese, and finish off the last drops of milk to change a simple biscuit into sophisticated (there's that word again) accompaniment to dinner.
    2. Deliciously complicate plain cooked meat.
      •  Sandwich fillings: Mix leftover meat with with mayonaise, pickes, celery, and shredded carrots to make sandwich fillings (chicken salad, tuna salad, corn beef spread, etc.)
      •  Pasta/Rice combos: Chop meat finely, mix with chopped cooked vegetables and put over pasta--bonus points if you use a leftover thickened soup or other reduction to make the sauce. 
      • Salad: Chopped meat can be tossed with arugula or other salad components, and tossed with a dressing made from any kind of oil, herb, vinegar or citrus juice mixture for a lovely salad.
      • International Quickies: Mix the meat with spices based on the country you like for leftovers with an international flair. Quantities are per 2 cups of meat:
        1. Mexican: Mix meat with up to 1 cup of cooked pinto, kidney, or black beans, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and: 1/4 t dry oregano (or 1 T fresh), 1 t (or more) cumin, 1/4 t coriander (or 2 T fresh cilantro), 1/8 t cocoa, 1/8 t cinnamon, 1/2 t dry basil (or 2 T fresh), and 1/4 c salsa verde. Serve with tortillas or plan corn chips, tomato, lettuce, sour cream or Greek yogurt.
        2. Italian: 1/4 t dry oregano (or 1 T fresh),  1/2 t dry basil (or 2 T fresh), 3-4 cloves crushed garlic, 1 cup chopped fresh, or 1/3 cup canned mushrooms, 1 12-oz can pureed tomatoes, 1/4 c red wine (or sub 1 c white wine, 2 T pesto, and 1/2 c starchy water from cooked pasta for the tomatoes and red wine for a tomato-free sauce). Serve over pasta with a side of broccoli raab and some garlic bread for an amazing use for leftover chicken or hamburger.   
        3. Greek: Shred chicken, lamb, or other meat. Toss with feta cheese,  1 T fresh organo, 1 1/2 t minced rosemary, and 1/2 cup sliced olives (kalamatas are best, but you will need to pit them). Heat together in a skillet with 1/4 cup dry white wine until just warm. Remove from heat, toss with 2 cups fresh baby spinach (or toss with cooked eggplant or summer squash), 1/2 t lemon juice and 1/4 c flavorful extra virgin olive oil.   Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pine nuts and serve as a wilted salad or over orzo pasta. 
        4. Asian: Take your plain cooked meat, toss in 1 1/2 t sesame oil, 1 T soy sauce, 1 tsp peanut butter (optional), and a little bottled hot sauce (optional). Heat together with 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic until hot.  Toss with baby spinach leaves or finely chopped cabbage, and  chopped cilantro and/or fresh basil leaves. Or wrap in lettuce leaves with cooked rice noodles, chopped peanuts, and a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve with a dipping sauce of 1 T soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1/2 t sugar, and 1 t sesame oil. 
      • The Omelet Just about anything can go into an omelet. Start with 6-8 eggs for 2-3 people (or more if you have extra veggies and bread). Add leftover greens, meat, beans, potatoes, sauces. . .almost anything can go together.  Here's a recipe using wine and cheese; and another using kale. I've seen recipes for omelets using green beans and onions, potatoes, asparagus, even corn chips and black beans. I've scraped the last bits from pesto containers into my omelet, as well as dregs of mustard, tomato paste, wine and even salsa.  Any savory combination that tastes good without eggs will probably taste good with them, too!

There are tons of ways to use up leftovers. Let me know of any creative ideas you have!

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