The next time you eat the last olive out of the jar and go to wash the brine down the sink, stop! You are about to pour flavor down the drain.
My kitchen motto is “think before I toss.” I can’t stand wasting food so I am constantly looking for ways to reuse ingredients and save items people normally throw away- like brine or the oil in sundried tomatoes. Those ingredients are incredibly flavorful.
Olive brine is great in marinades (just use it instead of vinegar in your recipe); mix a tablespoon into mayonnaise when making potato salad; mix brine, olive oil and Italian seasoning and use it to marinate vegetables; add a dash to a dirty martini or Bloody Mary; or make my Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes.
I don’t eat potatoes very often because once you add all the flavorings like butter or cream, they are so fattening. This is a fat free recipe that uses olive brine, rosemary and chives to flavor the potatoes. I came up with it this week and considering it is fat free, I think it’s great.
As for the oil in a jar of sundried tomatoes- that’s my favorite leftover ingredient. You can mix it with balsamic vinegar for an instant salad dressing; use it to dress orzo or other pasta; use it as the oil when you make goat cheese omelets; use it instead of olive oil when you make croutons or crostini; or make my Warm Bruschetta. This is my favorite recipe and it’s ready in less than 5 minutes. I simply slice grape or cherry tomatoes, warm some of the oil in a pan, toss the tomatoes in with basil and cook for 1 minute. Salt to taste and serve.
You can also save the oil from artichokes and use that in marinades or salad dressings.
Pickle brine is another item you can reuse. It’s good in marinades, but I often refill the jar with other items like cucumbers or carrots and reuse the brine. I have a recipe below for Spicy Dill Carrots which is simply carrots, onions and jalapenos in dill pickle brine.
Brine from hot peppers is good in marinades, barbecue sauces, or add a touch to deviled eggs (but use sparingly).
Beer is another item I can’t stand to waste. A couple of days ago, I tried a new beer and I hated it. There was no way I could drink it, so I put it in the fridge to use in the future. The next day I made Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken. You can also make beer bread, beer cheese dip, or use leftover beer to boil brats (add onions to the beer and finish the brats on the grill).
There are so many items we throw away every day that we can reuse. I hope this inspires you to think before you toss. Enjoy.
Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes
1 pound microwave in a bag red potatoes
¼ cup olive brine
¼ cup chopped chives
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes according to package directions. While the potatoes cook, chop the chives and rosemary.
When the potatoes are ready, empty the bag into a serving bowl and smash them down.
Pour the brine over potatoes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Then top with chives and rosemary. Toss and serve.
You can also substitute basil in this recipe if you don’t like rosemary.
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, assorted colors
1 ½ tablespoons oil left from the sundried tomato jar
10 basil leaves
Salt to taste
Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Set aside.
In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with basil and salt to taste. Serve immediately.
This dish is delicious over couscous or with French bread, but I also like it alone as a side dish.
Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken
6 chicken thighs, legs, or breasts
1 tablespoon barbecue rub
1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon jerk seasoning
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Half an onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 almost full bottle of beer
1 bottle of KC style barbecue sauce
White rice for serving
Lay chicken in a 13 by 11 inch pan. Sprinkle with all the seasoning. Slice the onion and garlic and sprinkle both over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Pour beer in the side of the pan being careful not to wash off the seasonings. Pour half the bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken and then stir about a fourth of the bottle into the beer. You will use about ¾ a bottle.
Bake for 1 hour (check it after 50 minutes because cooking times vary depending on the size of the piece of meat and what you cook. Breasts cook faster than thighs).
Serve over rice and spoon the sauce over rice before serving.
Spicy Dill Carrots
2 cups leftover juice from dill pickles
1 ¼ cups carrot slices (I buy the precut carrot chips)
2 jalapenos (or to taste), sliced in half
Half a red onion, thinly sliced.
When the jar of dill pickles is gone, simply fill it with carrots, jalapeno and onion. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Consume within 10 days.
If you add the jalapeno seeds, it will be significantly spicier.