Cruciferous vegetables span a wide range; some Leftover Cruciferous Vegetables are easy to rework into something fabulous while others need a bit more creativity. Here are some ideas to help you find a little inspiration.
For all leftovers, start to think about how they might be transformed into something marvelous. As a building block for recipes that rely on an already cooked ingredient; as a shortcut. All you need is an inspiration & maybe a recipe.
Think of the recipes you’ll use as “guides” not something set in stone, especially as the amounts of your leftovers might not exactly match an amount in a recipe. Once you have a leftover ingredient to start with, scale recipes up or down, substitute and make do.
What are Cruciferous (Brassica) Vegetables?:
There so many, but the most commonly used in the US are broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, kale and other greens, bok choy, turnips, rutabagas & radishes.
Leftover Brassica Veggies:
I’ll be dividing this group of Leftover Cruciferous Vegetables by similar types. While some ideas will work for just about any vegetable, others are going to be a little more specific. One easy way to make sure you use up a partial vegetable is to wrap it and if it fits, store it in the door of your fridge where you’ll see and hopefully, use it.
The no-brainer ways to use leftover cauliflower are: freezing it until there’s enough to make a soup, adding cheese and/or cream and serving as a side, and adding it to salads and bowls. Here are a few more ideas:
1. cauliflower rice:
Cooked cauliflower can easily be mashed into rice sized pieced and used how you’d use any rice. Hint: Cauliflower Rice is great with curries and as fried rice.
How about a Sformato? I dunno, you say tomato I say Sfromato…sorry. This is a new one on me but on my list to try next time I enough leftover cauliflower.
4. fry or fritter:
Use a tempura type batter like the one for my Crispy Vidalia Onion Rings or dip into flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and shallow fry.
5. wing it:
Since most cauliflower wings start with cooked cauliflower, just scale down a recipe and get a head start with your leftover cauliflower. Check this recipe at Gimme Delicious Food.
From a mild pickle to a dill pickle and all the way up to a screaming hot pickle, cauliflower is marvelous! And since they are best par-cooked for pickles, give it a try with your leftovers.
Mashed cauliflower filling in a Samosa like delivery? Yes, please!! See this recipe for Shingraras at Bon Appetit. Use an egg roll wrapper if you can’t find anything else.
8. brown butter:
Brown butter completely transforms leftover cauliflower into a delicious side dish. Here’s a recipe I love, and you don’t have to use the nuts and dates.
9. make a dip:
One of my favorite appetizers is this Smoky Cauliflower Hummus. I’ll bet you’ll fall in love with it, too. Just scale it down for the amount of cauliflower you have.
10. pizzas & flatbreads:
How about a cauliflower pizza? And I don’t mean the crust (bleh! That’s just a bad idea, imho!). This Roasted Cauliflower & Ricotta Grandma Pizza looks pretty amazing, and you could get by with using a lot less cauliflower if you just have a bit to use up.
Again, with broccoli, there are the no-brainer ways to use: freezing it until there’s enough to make a soup, adding cheese and/or cream and serving as a side, and adding it to salads and bowls. Here are a few more ideas:
Saute already cooked broccoli in olive oil with a little onion and garlic, then toss with hot cooked pasta. The florets (hopefully) will just fall apart and make a pesto-like sauce.
2. frittatas or quiches:
Maybe I suggest both too often on my “leftover” pages, but leftover veggies are a great way to start either a frittata or a quiche and starting with leftover cuts the prep time. Heck, you might want to make more broccoli just to have on hand for breakfast!
4. fry or fritter:
Just like for cauliflower, use a tempura type batter like the one for my Crispy Vidalia Onion Rings or dip into flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and shallow fry.
All kinds of souffles are good with leftover vegetables, but broccoli is one of the best. Make a simple Country Souffle (no need for a high souffle dish) in no time at all.
It seems these days, we’re all about keeping Brussels on the crispy side when we cook them. When Brussels are reheated, they also brown and crisp very well. There are many recipes where softer is better, too. Keep an open mind and check out these ideas:
No brainer, right. Add leftover Brussels Sprouts to almost any hash you’re making. If you’d like a more formal recipe, check out this Brussels Sprouts Hash from Delish.
2. fry or fritter:
Use a tempura type batter like the one for my Crispy Vidalia Onion Rings or chop and shred, dip into a flour, egg, crumb set up and shallow fry.
3. cream them:
This recipe for Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts cooks the Brussels towards the softer side. It’s decadent and amazing and a perfect recipe to use already cooked Brussels.
If your leftover Brussels Sprouts are on the al dente side, and you have quite a few, consider this Brussels Sprouts au Gratin from the Food Network.
5. pizza or flatbread:
Toss your leftover Brussels Sprouts on a pizza or flatbread – this Bacon & Brussels Flatbread from What’s Gaby Cooking looks amazing.
Turnips & Rutabagas:
Both are misunderstood veggies – they’re not only Brassicas, they’re also root vegetables, so see 50 Ways to Use Leftover Root Vegetables, too. Turnips have a sharper flavor than rutabagas but both make a wonderful mash. I often add one or the other to a pot of my Chicken or Turkey Broth, a little trick I learned from Ina Garten.
Either vegetable tastes amazing roasted, and since roasting can take a long time, ideally starting with a leftover cooked vegetable, cubed and tossed in olive oil will get you beautifully browned veggies.
Either of these vegetables can be added to a soup – they’ll give a pleasant little bite to just about any creamed soup. Toss them in your veggie bag in the freezer for that purpose.
If I’m making a stew and have a little of one or the other leftover, I’ll just toss it in towards the end of the cooking. Really, they’ll just need a reheat. A little Rutabaga is lovely in this Guinness Stew.
Why not go out on a limb and batter and fry chunks of either? Try this Beer Batter that normally goes on onion rings. I recommend dipping in Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.
5. leftover roasted:
If you’re using either vegetable leftover roasted, try heating them and pureeing them with a little milk or cream and a dab of butter.
You’ll probably want to treat leftover cooked cabbage a bit differently than a partial head of cabbage sitting in your fridge. I’m assuming you can make all kinds of slaws (here are a few recipes) so I’ll give you a few ideas for the cooked vegetable.
1. respice and reheat:
Sprinkle generously with your favorite spice mixtures and reheat with a little butter.
2. bubble & squeak:
Add leftover cooked cabbage to your mashed potatoes (which may or may not be leftovers, themselves) and make Bubble and Squeak. Try adding grated cheese, form into cakes, dust with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.
3. add to sesame noodles:
Cabbage, cooked or raw is marvelous in sesame noodles. Try the peanut sauce in this Cold Asian Peanut Noodle Salad. It’s easy and fantastic and likely uses ingredients you have on hand.
4. add to asian dishes:
Chop your leftover cabbage finely enough and just add them right into Asian dumplings. Often the recipes call for cooked cabbage to start with; you may need to wring your cabbage out if it’s wet. Try tossing your leftover cabbage into stir-frys like Cashew Chicken towards the end, just to heat through and coat with sauce.
5. hot & sour soup:
Cooked cabbage can be tossed into almost any soup at the end, just to heat through, but why not toss it into my Hot & Sour Soup? And yes, I know this is an Asian dish and I know I just mentioned Asian dishes on the paragraph above, but this soup worth a mention. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Greens, already cooked can be a challenge to use. They can always be added to quiches, frittatas and egg dishes and can go into your smoothies, but here are a few other ideas to get your creative juices rolling.
1. toss in soups:
Greens, already cooked can be tossed into any soup to just warm through. Think Italian and Indian in particular. This Italian Wedding Soup is lovely with greens.
2. bubble & squeak:
Add leftover greens to your mashed potatoes (which may or may not be leftovers, themselves) and make Bubble and Squeak. Try adding grated cheese, form into cakes, dust with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.
3. fried rice:
Fried Rice is the answer. Now, what was the question? Seriously, make your fried rice and then incorporate any cooked greens you might have right into it at the end. It’s marvelous. Maybe you’ll want to look at this Thai Pineapple Fried Rice?
Add your greens right into whatever pesto you’re making. It’s a marvelous disguise.
5. meatloaf or meatballs:
Chop your greens finely and add them right into just about any meatloaf, meatball or burger! If you have picky eaters, chop very finely and they’ll just look like herbs.
Florentine is spinach sauteed in butter and layed down as a bed for chicken, eggs or fish. Generally, it’s topped by a Mornay sauce. Riff off this idea and tuck your greens in where you can. Here’s my Eggs Florentine recipe.
If you frequent steakhouse, you might be familiar with Steakhouse Creamed Spinach. Use Emeril’s recipe for any leftover greens – just don’t cook as long.
Greens just seem to go great in so many Italian recipes: chop finely and add to white, creamy pastas and it will look like herbs, a great disguise. Add them to any red sauce pasta dishes. Lasagna, spaghetti sauce, Chicken Parmesan.
9. stuff vegetables:
Just about any leftover greens of just about any type can be added to your stuffed vegetables. Just think how good they would be in your stuffed bell peppers (or maybe in my Old World Stuffed Peppers.)
I know I’ve only scratched the surface with ways to use leftover brassicas! What are your favorite trips, tips and ways to utilize any leftover? I’m always loving finding something out that’s new to me and would love it if you shared back!