10 Surprising Things To Do With Leftover Ingredients

 

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So you picked up a can of coconut milk to make a curry sauce or you bought anchovy paste to whip up homemade Caesar dressing and have a bunch left over. Now what? Once you’re done with the recipe, it’s not always clear what to do with those leftover ingredients.

Rather than letting them languish in your fridge and eventually go bad, we tapped two experts—Elana Horwich, chef and founder of Meal and a Spiel cooking school in Los Angeles, and Keri Glassman, nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Life in New York City—for their tips on using up 10 common leftover ingredients.

Canned pumpkin
Mix canned pumpkin with non-fat Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg to make pumpkin yogurt, suggests Glassman. Or add ½ cup of pumpkin purée to your pancake mix, whisking it in with the milk and egg. It adds a dash of fall flavor year-round to your usual flapjacks; plus, it’s a good source of fiber, as well as vitamin A. (Check out these other fast ideas for canned pumpkin.)

Coconut milk
Make a tropical smoothie by mixing 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup frozen pineapple or mango (or a mix of both) in a blender. “You shouldn’t need any sugar, but a touch of agave or honey can be added to taste,” says Horwich. You can also use coconut milk anywhere you’d use a splash of regular milk, such as in your coffee, suggests Glassman. If it gets separated in the refrigerator just give it a good stir before using. (Try it in this almost-instant Thai chicken recipe.)

Curry paste
Mix olive oil and curry paste to create a simple but tasty marinade, and then brush it on salmon, chicken or vegetables before roasting. Or you can mix curry paste into mayo or yogurt when making egg, tuna, or chicken salad, which will add a savory, spicy taste.

Cranberry sauce
Along with smothering leftover cranberry sauce in chicken and turkey sandwiches, you can pour it on a wheel of baked brie, and then top that with pistachios and orange zest. For a sweet and zesty breakfast treat, try stirring cranberry sauce into your pancake mix and sprinkling pecans on top.

Tahini
Tahini, made from ground sesame seeds, has a mild creamy, nutty, earthy flavor that balances out hearty, slightly bitter or bland vegetables. Top steamed butternut squash, broccoli or cauliflower with tahini, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt, suggests Horwich.

Anchovy paste
A little bit of anchovy paste—a thick, salty potent paste made from ground anchovies, vinegar, and spices—goes a long way. Add ⅛ teaspoon of the paste to perk up sauces and soup, or use it as a base when sautéing vegetables with some garlic. You can also put together a tasty pasta dish, suggests Horwich: Heat olive oil in a pan with 2 cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper, followed by a tablespoon of anchovy paste. Then toss in 1 bunch of lacinato or dinosaur kale, a pinch of salt, and a half ladle of water, and cook until wilted. Add cooked pasta to the kale pan, toss together, plate, and top with parmesan cheese.

Buttermilk
Whip up some buttermilk mashed potatoes with spinach: Boil the potatoes and, just before they’re fully cooked, add a carton of frozen chopped spinach. Then drain, mash, and stir in the buttermilk. Top with bacon. Or use buttermilk to tenderize chicken: Coat drumsticks with a mixture of cayenne, black pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Poke the chicken all over with a fork and then cover with buttermilk. Chill for at least an hour or overnight. When it’s ready, make fried chicken. (Try these 6 other recipes for leftover buttermilk.)

Chicken stock
Trade out water for chicken stock when steaming vegetables or making risotto to add more flavor, suggests Glassman. You can also use chicken stock instead of water to make a savory quinoa cooked with minced garlic, olive oil, and grated parmesan cheese.

Ginger
Make lemon ginger tea. Grate an inch of fresh ginger on a microplane and add it to a mug of hot water, along with juice from ½-1 whole lemon and 1 tablespoon raw honey. “It’s nice as an after-dinner drink to help you digest,” says Horwich.

Tomato paste
It’s not just for making pasta sauce: You can sauté onions in tomato paste for a richer flavor before adding the onions to soup or to serve over chicken. Or try stir-frying vegetables in a mix of 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 1 tablespoon soy sauce with a pinch of salt and pepper. Tomato paste is also perfect for adding zesty flavor to chili, notes Horwich.

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