Friday, May 8, 2009
Posted by Kate at 8:37 AM
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.
So...am 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
Tiny Tip: Scallions
Homemade Apple "Cider" Vinegar