Friday, May 8, 2009

Stop Food Waste - Salad Scrambles

The lettuce is up and it's salad season again. Salad is a cornerstone meal for healthy eating, and one of the most obvious ways to include raw foods in your diet. But leftover salad presents some home economy challenges, especially if that salad is already dressed. I've heard that some people like to make green smoothies out of leftover salad. Personally I've found a different strategy works for me.

I make salad scrambles the next morning. There are few ingredients that might go into a salad which would be totally out of place in an omelet. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, onions, cheese, croutons - not to mention spinach and other greens - all these harmonize well with beaten eggs. I especially enjoy leftover Caesar salad in scrambles, or any salad that has goat cheese in it.

True, if you favor sweet dressings, or if you like to add fresh or dried fruits to your green salads, it might be a weird flavor combination. But in general this strategy works well because it's usually the earliest opportunity to use up leftover salads. That means that if the greens have been dressed, the vinegar doesn't have an extra eight hours to continue breaking down their cell structure, and turning them icky. It also helps if you dress your salad very lightly (a healthy and frugal practice anyway) and then store the leftover salad in the coldest (i.e. lowest) part of your refrigerator.

Making a salad scramble is simple. Beat however many eggs you want to use, adding salt and pepper or any flavorings you like. Preheat a pan over medium heat and put in a tiny dash of oil if it's needed. If your leftover salad is heavily dressed you probably won't need extra oil. Depending on the type of greens in your salad and how heavy your pouring hand was, it may take a few minutes to wilt the greens and drive off some excess liquid. Romaine lettuce can stand up to a surprising amount of cooking, butterhead not so much. When the greens wilt, increase the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Push a wooden spoon or soft spatula gently through the eggs every few seconds so that the eggs form soft lumps. When the eggs are just set, you've got a frugal and healthy breakfast. (In case you're wondering, those purple things in the picture above are chive flowers - part of last night's salad. They're quite oniony when raw, but mellowed a bit in the scramble.)

I actually whipped up some of these when we were houseguests last Thanksgiving. My husband's aunt made a lovely spinach, feta, and cranberry salad to serve with dinner a night or two before the feast. Our hostess was just going to toss the leftovers, but we assured her we'd eat it for breakfast. The next morning she was all but agog when we made some salad scrambles. It sure seemed to make her stop and think for a moment. Maybe she thought we were freaks. Or maybe she was mentally revisiting a childhood of extreme frugality, growing up on an Indiana farm raised by a survivor of the Great Depression. I a freak? Do you have clever solutions for using up dressed salad, or other awkward leftovers? Please share in the comments!

Other ways not to waste food:
Tiny Tip: Broccoli Stalks
Sour Milk & Potato Biscuit-Muffins
Chocolate-Zucchini Cake
Tiny Tip: Scallions
Homemade Apple "Cider" Vinegar


Rabbit Hill Farm said...

If I have a lot of leftover salad I make salad pizza the next night. Delicious! Thanks for another good idea to add to my salad arsenal. M

ilex said...

Love your blog- just found it this morning. Among my favorite foods are wilted lettuce and scrambled eggs, but I never thought to combine them. How fabulous.

NMPatricia said...

What an incredible idea. Thanks so much. I think this is definitely one I will try. In fact, I may make extra salad just to have a more interesting breakfast. We are getting more greens than I can handle right now. might be fun to try to see which dressings make the best scrables.

Maya said...

That is a great idea that I never would have thought of. I usually try to make sure we eat all of the dressed salad first since it keeps the worst and have taken to feeding it to the hens when it does overnight. But a salad scramble sounds tasty, especially with the arugula salads we've been wolfing down lately!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

I have a weird love of soggy day-old salad. No problem with leftovers here! :-)

Kate said...

RHF, I like your idea too! So thanks.

ilex, thanks, and I'm glad I could make a good suggestion for you.

NMP, leftover, still mostly crisp caesar salad is definitely my favorite. Unfortunately, I don't seem to get those really sturdy romaine heads when I grow the stuff in my own garden. We don't go for sweet dressings much, so I don't know how that would be. We're mostly straight up vinaigrette types. I'd love to hear your report after some experimentation.

Maya - MMMmmmm, arugula! My favorite. It would be great in a scramble, I imagine. But I've never had leftover arugula salad, somehow.

Michelle, I guess you got no worries then. Good for you!

Saladseekers said...

This sounds really tasty. I usually put broccoli rabe in my scramble or omelet but this is something to break up the monotony of breakfast. Will give it a try.

Joanne said...

My kids don't like most salad dressings so I don't add it to the salad bowl. We put dressings and mayonnaise on the table and add it to the plate once served, if desired. I transfer leftover salad to a sealed container and use in sandwiches or chicken wraps for school lunches. I'll definitely add scrambled eggs to the menu!

Bláithín said...

Gee, I thought I was the only one that did this with leftover greens, though I normally eat this for supper. VERY yummy indeed! BTW, I've added a link to your blog on my blog, hope you don't mind! Keep up the good work!

deb said...

Brilliant idea, I tell you! I can't wait to try this... the options are endless.

This has nothing to do with salad remains but sometimes I'll make breakfast burritos with my grilling leftovers. Potatoes, onions, chicken, steak, etc. I cut up the meat and add the rest. Sometimes I'll add a little extra cheese and salsa for good measure. Then I put them in the freezer for later or you could enjoy them the next meal/day. I like to make them in the toaster oven. Easy and delicious!

Kate said...

Saladseekers, a broccoli raab omlet sounds great!

Joanne, it's a sensible strategy not to dress the salad. Unfortunately, I'm not very sensible, and the salad portion of dinner is often my husband's project. He's not too sensible in that regard either. The wraps idea is a great one.

Blaithin, not at all. Why would I mind? Thanks very much.

Deb, that's a good strategy too. I love having ready made or half-ready made meals in the freezer for days I'm just not inspired to cook.

househen said...

How useful - I'm trying this the next time I have leftover salad.

Dmarie said...

Because I make BIG batches of potato salad and pimiento cheese when I make them, we get tired of eating them before they're all gone. So, I toss leftovers into homemade soups...great for adding creamy richness.