Waste not. For all of my adult life I’ve been thrifty. I especially like to make my food dollars go farther. I enjoy re-purposing leftovers, even small amounts of them, turning them into new dishes and meals. Maybe it’s a signature soup or stew that I make from a little bit of this and that. Maybe it’s a surf and turf salad made from a couple of ounces of fish and a couple of ounces of meat. Maybe it's a savory sauce for a solo chicken breast half that I make from the last of the roasted onions and bell peppers on the third day. Whatever it is, I like to keep it interesting, flavorful, and colorful.
Use it, don't lose it
I aim to to use as much of a fresh vegetable, fruit, or piece of meat as possible and to discard only what looks really rough, tough, mushy, old, or inedible. I turn leftover bones into a bone-building broth. I save the fat from cooking bacon and use it cook eggs. Maybe you do the same thing. But do you save the oil from jars of sun-dried tomatoes after you’ve used the tasty little fruits? If not, you’re missing out on a highly fragrant and flavorful four to six ounces of olive oil that can infuse the simplest of foods with the concentrated, sweet and tangy goodness of sun-dried tomatoes.
About those tomatoes
First you you want to make sure you’re buying sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in olive (not soy) oil. If possible, look for a brand with no added sulfites. Most brands contain this bleaching agent. While it won’t do you serious harm (unless your allergic to sulfites), I find sun-dried tomatoes packed without sulfites taste better, less sour. Sprouts Markets sell two brands without sulfites. Whole Foods Market has another brand. All three are just as beautiful in color as the brands with sulfites. Go figure!
Whether you buy whole sun-dried tomato halves or julienned sun-dried tomatoes, here are some ways that you can use that blushing red oil after the tomatoes are gone.
What to do with sun-dried tomato oil
Drizzle it over
steamed or blanched vegetables
plain baked sweet potatoes
plain baked potaotes
baked, raked spaghetti squash w/ minced parsley
a green salad w/chopped cilantro, diced avocado and lime
blanched vegetables w/thinly sliced Kalamata olives
dry "fried" No Oodles® or other shiritaki noodlesw/fresh garlic
Use it to
sauté leftover blanched vegetables
dress blanched zucchini “noodles”
make pesto (try my dairy-free Practically Paleo Pesto)
sauté spiralized zucchini noodles; add fresh garlic and basil
make a pan sauce for steamed or blanched vegetables
make salad dressing––a vinaigrette, lemonette, or limonette
sauté onions over low heat to caramelize them
Photo credit: Renee Porter Sullivan (a former cooking student and current cooking assistant) ©Copyright 2012
My new go to dish
Twice this past week I made an herb and spice-infused omelet cooked in bacon fat saved from my last batch of bacon-wrapped dates. I added some sheep milk feta (leftover from a cooking class) to the omelet before folding it in half, then served it with a big pile of steamed cauliflower with yellow bell pepper (the vegetables filled half the plate).
I drizzled some sun-dried tomato oil over the vegetables both days. On the second day I also sprinkled them with a heaping tablespoon of thinly sliced Kalamata olives. The finale for the meal on both days: a small cup of fresh strawberries. Everything was so flavorful, so satisfying, and the meal was so easy to assemble. I hope you try this or something like it.
Photo credit: Rachel Albert ©Copyright 2013
What do you like to do with the leftover oil from a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes after the tomatoes are gone?