*Here begins an occasional series where I will share with you how I use leftover foods before they go bad- all in the spirit of “using it up.” *
Did you know that roughly 25% of the food Americans buy goes to waste? Almost a year ago I did a post on waste that included this quote from a Yahoo news story. It went on to say that this equals 1 pound of food, per American, thrown in the trash daily. Sadly, I doubt if the number has changed much in a year if I go by the amount of food I see thrown out daily in the school where I work.
I love to use up leftovers, though. For some weird reason it’s always given me a sense of pride (misplaced?) to create a new (and different- that’s the key for me) dish with leftovers. If my family cannot tell they are eating “leftovers” then I am one happy woman.
It doesn’t take much, it seems.
So here is the first thing I’m offering up: A huge (like 2+ cups) amount of white bean dip that’s been hanging around since the Superbowl on Sunday.
Actually, it’s been around longer than that. A couple of weeks ago I had forgotten to pre-cook some beans I needed for a dish, so I threw some in the slow cooker in the morning before I went to work. I hadn’t done this before, but I’ve read that lots of people do, so I was giving it a shot.
Desperation does this to me often- that’s when I try new things. Though in the big scheme of things, beans really aren’t a cause for “desperation” are they?
But when I go home, I found the beans were mush. I only work until 1:00, so it’s not like they had been in the cooker all day, sheesh. I was able to salvage some to use in the dish that night (I only put them in at the very end of cooking, so they were fine, actually), but I was left with about 4 cups of mushy beans.
So I made bean dip. It was quite tasty with garlic, olive oil, and herbs, but it sat in the fridge for a few days before I realized we probably weren’t going to eat 4 cups worth of bean dip in the near future. I froze it, not knowing how it would fare, and it came out great.
But there were three other dips at the Superbowl party, not to mention pizza, so I was left with more than 2 cups of the stuff. A couple days using it with vegetables at lunch showed hardly a dent in the amount.
Time to figure out how to use this stuff in a new way.
Quesadillas were already on the menu to be served with a spicy stew, so I decided to make them bean and cheese quesadillas.
Wait. Didn’t the beans have garlic, olive oil, and herbs? That’s not very southwest/Mexican, is it?
These things don’t bother me at all when I’m trying to use leftovers. I don’t know why not, because I’d never purposefully plan a meal with these different flavors. Go figure.
I spread the dip on the tortillas (store-bought after this experience) and covered it with grated pepper-jack cheese. The slightly spicy cheese helped bring in some of those southwest flavors that were lacking in the beans.
Poor beans. They were actually quite good on their own. A person (or family even) can only eat so much dip, though.
I fit two and a half quesadillas on a large cookie sheet, and after topping them with the top tortillas, I baked them at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then flipped them and baked them for another 5 minutes.
This is much quicker and easier for me than one at a time in a skillet, so I’ve always just baked them.
I neglected to get a picture of just the quesadillas, but here they are with the stew (The Writer’s new favorite- stay tuned) I served with them. One surprising thing is that they really puffed up in the oven much more than normal. I’m not sure why whirred-up beans would do that, but they settled down once they were on the serving plate.
The verdict? Everybody loved them, which actually surprised me. Works for me!
My daughter even asked me to make them again.
Um…that’s gonna be a little hard.
This is linked to Works for Me Wednesdays at We Are That Family.