Use It Up

We've got ideas on how to make the most of 29 staples

March 18, 2009|By Kate Shatzkin

This year, more than others, we've declared war on wasting food. To help with the fight, we've come up with 20 ingredients that can be hard to use up before they go bad. Here are quick (and a few not-so-quick) ideas for putting them to delicious purpose. Keep the list on your fridge, and hopefully you'll never have to toss half a container of these staples again. When in doubt, turn to our quintet of favorite use-up dishes: frittata, fried rice, omelet, stir-fries, soup. They can take on many of the ingredients on our list. You can find recipes in our searchable database at, or create your own using what you have.

Bananas: Of course you could make banana bread or muffins, but you also could caramelize them using a recipe for Sauteed and Caramelized Baby Bananas. Or make banana pudding.

Capers: Add to a tuna salad sandwich. Stir into a butter sauce for fish.

Carrots: Shred or cut up finely and add to tomato sauce. Shred for a slaw or salad. Or roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, sprinkled with olive oil and salt and pepper. Celery: Stash in the freezer for stock or soup. Spread with peanut butter or hummus for snacks. Chop up for a stir-fry or fried rice.

Chipotles in adobo sauce: Add to taste to tomato sauce, salsa or chili. Chop into scrambled eggs. Mix a bit with cream cheese or sour cream and eat with tortilla chips.

Cilantro: Make cilantro pesto with walnuts or pine nuts and a bit of lime, or whip up its close cousin, chimichurri sauce.

Coconut milk: Make a pina colada or a smoothie. Use to thicken soup or make peanut sauce.

Cottage cheese: Add to pancakes . If you have a lot, make the old Baltimore favorite schmierkase, a kind of cheesecake that will also use up sour cream.

Egg whites: Make an angel food cake or meringue cookies. (Find more recipes and tips for freezing egg whites at leftovereggwhites.htm.) Or make a cheap beauty mask: Spread an egg white over your face, let dry and rinse. Egg yolks: Make hollandaise, sabayon or creme brulee. (Find more recipes and tips for freezing egg yolks at leftovereggyolks.htm.)

Garlic: Roast drizzled with a bit of olive oil in foil in a 400-degree oven about an hour until soft, as instructs, then spread on bread. Or, use extra cloves for the classic Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic.

Mayonnaise: Make chocolate mayonnaise cake from Or, as advised on, coat fish or skinless chicken in a thin layer of mayonnaise, add favorite spices, and bake.

Oranges: Make juice. Freeze peels to use in baked goods or to add scent to savory dishes. Make your own marmalade. Or try a recipe for Sicilian Orange-Flavored Chicken; it uses the juice of 5 oranges.

Pumpkin (canned): Whirl in a blender with vanilla yogurt, sugar or honey, milk and a touch of cinnamon for a pumpkin smoothie. Or stir into oatmeal, and add spices and honey.

Ricotta cheese: Make an easy cannoli using store-bought shells. Use in pancakes or cheesecake. If you have other ingredients to use up, make it part of the base of a frittata.

Romaine lettuce: Brush leaves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill, watching carefully. Or wrap sandwiches in the leaves instead of using bread. Scallions (or green onions): Chop into almost any salad or into a leftover melange of meat, nuts and quinoa or rice. Pair with asparagus in a spring frittata. Or saute or stir-fry with green beans.

Sour cream: Add to mashed potatoes or deviled eggs for a bit of tang. Combine with leftover herbs and scallions for a quick dip.

Tahini: After you've made homemade hummus with this sesame paste, make a bit of the leftovers the base of a dressing or sauce. You can find an easy recipe for Spinach With Tahini at

Tomato paste: Try this recipe for tomato juice from Add 1 ounce tomato paste to 3 ounces cold water and mix together in a blender. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce, if desired.

chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

(serves 8)

2/3 cup olive oil

8 chicken drumsticks and 8 thighs (or 16 of either)

4 ribs celery, cut into long strips

2 medium onions, chopped

6 sprigs parsley

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

pinch nutmeg

40 cloves garlic, unpeeled

French bread for serving

Put the oil in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces, and turn them to coat all sides evenly with the oil.

Cover the bottom of a heavy 6-quart casserole pan with a mixture of the celery and onions. Add the parsley and tarragon, and lay the chicken pieces on top. Pour the vermouth or wine over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add nutmeg, and tuck the garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces.

Cover the top of the casserole tight with aluminum foil and then put the lid on the pan (this creates an airtight seal so the steam won't escape). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover.

Serve the chicken, pan juices and whole garlic cloves with thin slices of heated French bread or toast. The garlic should be squeezed from the root end of its papery husk onto the bread or toast, spread like butter and eaten with the chicken.

Adapted from "Epicurean Delight, the Life and Times of James Beard," by Evan Jones, reprinted on

Per serving: : 462 calories, 31 grams protein, 33 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 859 milligrams sodium

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