How to Turn Leftover Condiments Into Instant Salad Dressing

mr-Pesto Chickpea Salad with Squash, Red Onions and Parmesan

As you may have figured out by now, I consider too much of a good thing a great thing!  Leftovers are a wonderful opportunity to play and make something new. Leftover cheese can become fromage fort. Leftover fruit or vegetables scraps can become syrups. Even leftover pizza can become French toast. Seriously!

But what happens when, after a meal, you are left with very small amounts of homemade condiments? It is pretty easy to scrape that last couple of tablespoons of mustard or ketchup into the trash, especially if there are other bottles in the fridge. But if you’re looking at a couple of tablespoons of lovingly made pesto or salsa verde or chimichurri or roasted salsa, the idea of binning it is like an arrow to the heart. You might have made it from fresh herbs or vegetables from your own garden or that of a friend. It might be the result of a farmers’ market purchase. That pesto might include the last piece of the really good parm you brought back from Italy or the Portuguese pine nuts. So, what are you to do, beyond spreading it on one sandwich, to honor every last drop of the fruits of your labor?

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

Salad dressing to the rescue!

These punchy sauces made the idea base for a dressing that is at home on vegetables, or other salads like pasta or potato salad. They can usually hold up to grilled items from vegetables to meats, as well as creamy cheeses.

The process is easy, you want one-part of your leftover sauce and one-part acid to two-parts oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. The choices of details are up to you. Was there lime juice in your salsa?  Add more lime juice as your acid and a peppery olive oil for a dressing that would be great on a corn and black bean salad. Lemon juice or zest in your salsa verde? Add more lemon juice and a mild sunflower oil and dress a salad of grilled vegetables on a bed of crunchy escarole or romaine. Got pesto? Add some white balsamic vinegar and walnut oil and dress a pasta salad or caprese salad. Switch it up with different flavors of vinegars and oils and you’ll always get a batch of dressing to stretch those last couple of spoonfuls into something new and delicious.

I tend to eyeball mine by putting the leftover condiment in the bottom of a jar and adding what feels like an equal amount of my chosen acid. Then I eyeball oil at about equal to the combined amount already in the jar, and shake it up!


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