One of the most wasted food items are bags of salad leaves. They are packed in a protective atmosphere and often wilt very quickly once the pack is opened. But, leftover salad ? What on earth can you do with that!
So you’ve grown some beautiful lettuce or leaves, and the ENTIRE row / patch have ALL come ready at once. You haven’t needed to buy them, but even so. Waste them!
A lovely crunchy bag of leaves, a crispy cucumber and some rosy radishes were acquired last week. This week, they’re all more, soft, slightly squishy and a bit sad.
You’ve bagged a fantastic bargain, used half of it and the rest of it is wilting. Fast. If it’s not to be wasted, and that wouldn’t be much of a bargain, what to do.
How to extend the life of your salad
Before it becomes leftover salad, there are some ways to extend the life of your leaves. Store it in a plastic bag or box in the fridge with a paper towel on the bottom to absorb the moisture given off by the leaves. In the old days, when all there was was a cool larder, leaves were loosely wrapped in newspaper to do the same job.
Some people layer their leaves between separate sheets of kitchen roll, others go the other way and store them in water in the fridge. If your lettuce is the kind that comes with a stump, you can keep it going by putting it in a small bowl with a little water in. When you are ready, cut that stump off and put it in the garden or a small pot keep it well fed and watered, and it will regrow. This is one I did that has been in the pot about a week.
If you are growing lettuce in the garden or allotment, try picking off just the outside leaves. The remaining leaves will continue to grow, extending the lifespan.
You can also try growing the base of celery. I’m a newbie at this one and am trying it.
Uses for leftover salad
Tomatoes & Cucumbers
Like tomatoes, cucumbers don’t like temperatures that are on the cool side. Keep tomatoes in a bowl on the worktop, never in the fridge. If they have been in the fridge, put them on the worktop with a nice ripe tomato for a few hours and the ripe one will give off gases that go a long way to restoring the magnificent flavour of a good tom. The coolness kills off much of their flavour.
Cucumbers too will deteriorate if kept too cool. I have always kept them in the fridge and been annoyed at how quickly they turn to mush, maybe I’ll keep them in a dish now, but on their own as other, ripening, fruit, also hastens their demise.
Lots more ideas here from Clotilde and her readers
There are some great ideas in this Guardian column, including these rather wonderful strawberry and cucumber sandwiches. Don’t they look amazing! It’s really hot right now and I could just fancy a couple of these with a nice ice cold drink.
There is a long lasting tzatziki from the archives. It lasts a good 10 days and makes a delicious sandwich as well as all the usual uses.
This olive, cucumber and soft cheese sandwich is outstanding and very inexpensive too
Lots more ideas here too from Clotilde and her readers
If your tomatoes are now overripe and a bit squashy, try Panzanella, they’d be perfect in that. It’s something I wrote about back in 2013, so the post isn’t the best one I’ve ever written!
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I often bung in leftover salad veg in a fridge clear out when I make a big pot of soup. I’ve had cucumbers in the soup, lettuce, radishes, squashy tomatoes, you name it. You can even do this with a dressed salad. The dressing will be fine in soup. So you could just do that, and add it to whatever soup you are making. Job done.
Wilt leaves into curries or stir fries as you would spinach, salad leaves are much the same thing.
If your leftover salad is of the more robust kind, such as carrot, beetroot, celery or radishes, anoint with oil, season and roast in in the oven. Doesn’t matter if they’re tired and past their best, they’ll roast up just fine. These veg can then be used in a tart or quiche, on a pizza, to flavour home made hummus or whizz into a delicious toast topper / sandwich filling.
This delicious and delicate soup was quite a revelation when I tried it. Pretty simple to make and taking very little time. AND hardly any calories, so great for us perpetual dieters.
Here are 13 recipe ideas for leftover salad
This article suggests ways to use salad greens
Another leftover salad soup
A great article from The Kitchn on there is more to salad than salads
And here is a lovely recipe for stir fried lettuce