Scraps, Leftovers, Odd Bits. . . and How to Use What We Have

Scraps, Leftovers, Odd Bits. . . and How to Use What We Have

caesar salad

People tend to give me food. One friend always passes on his green onion tops after he uses the white parts for curry pastes. Last weekend I left a party with a jar of leftover Caesar salad dressing and a bag of extra croutons. A neighbor gave me a head of lettuce on its last legs the other day. I love these bits. They are the fodder for my cook-with-what-you-have kitchen and my deep-seeded joy in making something out of nothing.  People seem to know that I’ll both use and appreciate them, which I in turn, appreciate!

These gifts bestowed on me have me thinking both about how much many of us have and how simple it can be to eat well if you have access to the basics. There’s been a lot of writing and discussion about wasted food (or more commonly referred to as food waste though I think the semantics are important) this year. It is a huge and critical topic and I am beginning to think about how this blog and all my Cook With What You Have work, can more explicitly be a resource for decreasing waste and sharing our bounty with others.

So, whether you have an appreciative friend or neighbor or want to get more creative yourself, I am eager to talk more about how we can use all we buy to the fullest and how we can share our bounty with those in need.

Wishing you a very happy, resourceful and fulfilling holiday season!

P.S. If someone on your gift list this season likes to cook or might be looking for inspiration in the kitchen, with vegetables, or likes to cook with their family, a gift subscription to the Cook With What You Have Seasonal Recipe Collection might just be the ticket! It won’t clutter anyone’s closet and it is the gift that keeps on giving. . . in the best of ways!

Caesar Salad

Whether you use the classic Romaine or use the Escarole or any of the other hardy chicories that are this season’s salad greens here in the Pacific Northwest, this is a lovely dish to brighten up any holiday meal.

I can eat just this for dinner. It’s tangy and fresh and rich from the egg in the dressing. The little bit of anchovy rounds things out without being overpowering. Good, fresh eggs from happy chickens will make it even better.

Serves 4-6 depending on appetites and what else is being served

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4-5 flat anchovy filets (or more to taste)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
Freshly grated black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
1 large head of Romaine lettuce, washed, leaves cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1 1/2 inch ribbons or Sugarloaf, Escarole or any other hearty lettuce
1 1/2 cups croutons or toast a slice or two of good crusty bread and tear it into bite-sized pieces

You can either use a food processor or a mortar and pestle. If using the latter, put the garlic, anchovy, pepper and salt in it and pound it into a smooth-ish paste. Scoop the paste out of the mortar and put it into a bowl. Then whisk in the lemon juice and egg yolk and then slowly add the oil and finally 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. If using a food processor start with the garlic, anchovy, lemon juice and salt and then add the ingredients in the same order. Stir the parmesan at the end after you’ve removed the dressing from the processor.

Toss dressing with lettuce, top with croutons and some more freshly grated Parmesan.

2 thoughts on “Scraps, Leftovers, Odd Bits. . . and How to Use What We Have”

  • I love this–we very much try not to waste any food (and I love that in Berkeley, mushroom stems and chicken bones and all that inedible stuff goes in the community compost pile anyway), but a reminder is always good! Keep it coming.

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