The rain of early this week has turned into the most beautiful, sunny fall days. The weather forecast promises us over 20 C (70 F) and sun in the following few days! I can see a weekend of reading in the park... ;)
The only thing that tells me it is not summer sun are the long shadows and the leaves that are turning yellow. This branch of an old chestnut tree had changed color just overnight.
Dinner today was another "throw away or use up" kind of affair.
Given the outrageous prices of nut butters in Denmark, I usually make my own. A few days ago, I just scraped off the last of my Naturally Nutty Vanilla Almond Butter - brought from the US this spring, as I still haven't found anything similar in Europe (or a company that ships to Scandinavia with reasonable shipping rates. If someone knows one, please do let me know! :)). Thankfully, I have found that it is quite easy to make your own nut butters, and that no super expensive appliances are required, either (though they would be welcome ;)). My favorites are different almond butters, without a question: natural, vanilla, maple, chocolate, dried fruit, pumpkin spice...
For years, I have also made different nut/seed butters that are salty and more like sandwich spreads. I certainly haven't come up with this idea myself, as I have shamelessly copied the basic ingredient list out of the side of a jar. I use cashews, sunflower seeds, or whatever nuts or seeds I have on hand - and then usually mix in a little tomato paste, some lemon juice, and a mixture of herbs and spices. This far, the numerous combinations I have tried have always turned out well - that is, until this week. Early this week, I decided it was time to make some sandwich spread again. I followed my usual "recipe", but thought it would be a good idea to add some olives, sundried tomatoes and basil, all of which I had on hand, waiting to be used up.
I am not sure what went wrong, but the result was quite disastrous.
Unfortunately, this tasted just as bad as it looks. As I hate wasting food, I put it all into a small container and left it in the fridge - but deep inside, I knew I was never going to use it on a sandwich of any kind. By the end of the week, time was running out from this spread. I took it out, tasted it again (and never again!!), and considered dumping it all into my boyfriend's lunchbox. There is, however, one thing that can save almost any leftovers: burgers. Since this was a thick paste, I knew it would work quite nicely in a burger patty. It also just happened that I had some leftover boiled green lentils in my fridge. I combined this weird mixture with the lentils, added some breadcrumbs, some more spices - and suddenly, I had the most delicious tasting mixture! I could have eaten the whole thing with a spoon. Who would have thought adding lentils and doubling up the spices could make such a difference?
These were quite possibly the best burgers I have ever had. Unfortunately, I didn't measure anything, so I can't write a real recipe - but I will certainly try to make these again. It would be something like 1/2 to 2/3 c sunflower seeds, a few sundried tomatoes, some olives, handful of fresh basil (=all pureed in a food processor), salt and pepper + 1 c lentils (uncooked amount), 1/3 c spelt breadcrumbs, a tablespoon of yellow curry paste, hot sauce (I used sriracha), soy sauce, a tablespoon of tomato paste or ketchup, herbs and a pinch of garlic powder. Any other spices and herbs you like. Mix everything up, form into burger patties, and bake in the oven (about 225 C/450 F) about 20 minutes or until golden brown, flipping half way through.
I just dropped the mixture onto a baking sheet with a spoon and flattened it, hence the ugly shape - but the paste was firm enough so you could have formed it into beautiful patties, too.
I guess the lesson learned is that even the most hopeless, tasteless leftovers can have a new life as a wonderful meal, with the addition of some fresh, flavorful ingredients. ;-)
What is your favorite way to use up leftovers? Is there something you have a hard time using up?
For me the most problematic food is probably soup, at least every now and then. I always manage to make too much of it, and since our freezer is very small, we end up eating it for days. Finally, we both agree we never want to have soup again. Naturally, this problem could be solved by making a smaller amount (I don't know how I always end up with a whole pot?!), or getting a bigger freezer - which I'm sure our next, more permanent home will have. :-)
Have a great weekend!