I like experimenting with new flavors and ingredients. But then the spice or condiment I've tracked down just sits on the shelf.
I picked up preserved lemons because so many of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes called for them. After using them once, I have yet to use them again. Pomegranate molasses for a quinoa salad sounded delicious; I made it once, and the remaining sticky syrup is still in my pantry.
So my sister and I decided we needed to change things. We would celebrate the Year of Using Everything Up, in the same vein as sillier or stricter “challenges,” such as BuzzFeed's Clean Eating Challenge.
Ours doesn't have a hashtag and is perhaps less Instagrammable. It also is not the most grammatically graceful phrase, but the name stuck. The Year of Using Everything Up involves repurposing the 1/2 cup of leftover lentils in the refrigerator and finding recipes for the bag of bulgur wheat my sister got from her boss's discarded Blue Apron ingredient pile.
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The Year of Using Everything Up has improved my cooking skills. I've become less reliant on recipes, more creative and resourceful. I no longer plan a dinner for every night of the week; instead, I leave a few slots free so I can make sure to actually eat the leftovers from Sunday's dinner.
The YOUEU also is about wasting less food. I saute the kale stems I've saved from making salads (incredibly delicious), and I repurpose every extra roasted vegetable or grain of rice (grain bowls for days).
One of the recipes that has stuck with me so far is a chickpea flour-egg pancake hybrid that I call the Chickpea Omelet. Alaina Sullivan, a senior designer at Bon Appetit, posted it on Instagram. It looked so beautiful in all its golden glory that I had to try it. Even better: I had all the ingredients.
I've been whisking together the egg and chickpea flour mixture, then topping the finished omelet with other ingredients I need to use up, such as caramelized onions, a dollop from the half-full yogurt container and a sprinkle of za'atar or sumac – also two Mediterranean spices I don't reach for as much as I thought I would.
Adapted from a recipe by Alaina Sullivan, who is a designer for Bon Appetit magazine.
4 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground spice, such as cumin, sweet paprika, curry powder or garam masala
1 tablespoon olive oil
Toppings: Plain Greek yogurt and whatever is leftover (caramelized onions, sauteed greens and roasted squash)
Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well blended, then whisk in the water, chickpea flour, salt, pepper, baking powder if using, and the spice of your choice, until well-combined and lump-free.
Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the egg mixture; cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Once the underside is set and lightly browned but the top isn't fully set, carefully flip the omelet. Cook about 1 minute longer; the omelet is done once the second side is set.
Cut into quarters and divide between plates. Serve right away.
Per serving: 290 calories, 18 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 370 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar
Yield: 2 servings