Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: Salad

By now, you know that I like to waffle random leftovers.  I've found it to be a remarkable way to actually reheat leftovers, often transforming unappealing items into something totally salvageable.  Plus, obviously, I have fun with it.

Sometimes, I'll admit, I throw something into the waffle iron mostly for the novelty aspect.  Like, when I waffled pudding.  I didn't exactly expect that to work.  Or this time, when, uh, I waffled leftover salad.

Bear with me for a minute.

Have you ever seen a caesar salad with grilled romaine?  It shows up on menus from time to time.  The waffle iron is mostly like a grill.  I wasn't expecting it to magically turn lettuce into a waffle, obviously, but, I thought it would grill it.

The other reason I did it though?  I had some extremely wilted, soggy, unappealing, leftover salad, that there was just no way I could eat as it was.  I could throw it out, or I could have some fun.  I sorta thought that perhaps it would be a bit like making kale chips too, and the moisture would get sucked out of the soggy leftover lettuce.

It didn't transform into lettuce chips, but, honestly, it was a breakthrough.

Put simply, Leftover Salad: Will it waffle?  Yes, yes, yes!

I encourage you to consider it when you have leftover salad too.  Don't just toss it.  It also really makes me wonder why grilled salads aren't more a thing (I understand that waffling salads isn't, but, why don't we see more grilled salads?).  This not only transformed items destined for the trash, it was really legitimately good.
Waffled Salad Transformation, v1.0.
In the first version of this (yes, spoiler, I innovated further), I only waffled the lettuce, leaving the other ingredients out.
The Original: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cucumber and Pickled Onions.
The original was a very tasty salad, huge leaves of assorted lettuces (red leaf, little gem, etc), slices of fresh cucumber, totally delicious heirloom cherry tomatoes, and tart pickled onions.  The dressing was even more amazing, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, thai basil.
Soggy Leftover Salad.
We had a ton of leftover, so I saved it.  The salad was undressed, so, I thought it would keep fine for a day, but unfortunately, the moisture from the tomatoes and onions did it in.

By the next day, the lettuce was limp, wilted, soggy, and really not good at all.  No matter how tasty the dressing was, or how amazing the heirloom tomatoes still were, there was just nothing appealing about this salad.

But I didn't have anymore fresh lettuce.

A normal person would just extract the tomatoes and onions, mix them with some tasty dressing, and have a little tomato salad.  But I am not a normal person.

When I have lackluster leftovers, only one thing comes to mind.  My waffle iron.
Lettuce: Into the Waffle Iron ...
So yes, into the waffle iron the lettuce went.  I did keep the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions out of it (at least, this time).

I literally just spread the wilted soggy leaves into the iron, 350 degrees, and let it go.
Waffled Lettuce?
I pulled it out after it started looking "done".  It was not waffled exactly, more like grilled, but, it worked, really.

It was warm, slightly wilted, slightly grilled lettuce.  The moisture was sucked out, as I hoped.  It reminded me of roasted escarole actually.

I failed to take a photo of the final creation, but, I topped it with the tomatoes, pickled onions, and tasty dressing.  It didn't have the crispness nor freshness that regular raw lettuce salad has, but, it totally worked, and I enjoyed it, and was inspired.
Waffled Salad Transformation, v2.0.
Inspired for round 2.  I knew I could do better.  And I had a lot more salad to play with.

The lettuce alone was good, but, why not just waffle the whole thing?  It would be just like grilling, right?  Grilled onions and blistered tomatoes are delicious.  So, why not?  Waffling would be just about the same as grilling, right?
Entire Salad: Into the Waffle Iron ...
This time, I put the whole salad in.  Super soggy greens, halves of tomatoes, onions, and all.

I mean, why not?

I closed the lid, pressed down, and walked away, a bit giddy with myself.
Salad: Cooking Away ...
And, as expected, everything started looking grilled after a few minutes.

The tomatoes got beautiful char marks, turned blistered, just like they had been slow cooked.  The onions started looking grilled.  The aroma was lovely.
"Waffled" Salad Success!
I plated it all up, drizzled the dressing over it after.  I loved it.

Was it a waffle?  Of course not.  But does a waffle iron work perfectly well as a grill?  Absolutely.

Just like in the first batch, the waffle iron saved that wilty, soggy, totally gross lettuce.  It was warm, slightly charred, and actually good like this.  The tomatoes got a bit of char, split open, and acted like they had been slow roasted for hours.  I don't think I need to convince you that grilled onions are a great thing.

This was a remarkable transformation, and I'll clearly do it again.
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