You know what? A lot of times, the simplest ideas come from the most random musings.
Take this recipe, for example. How did it come about?
The used grounds in my French press.
Your eyes didn’t deceive you: used coffee grounds.
You’d think after being steeped and squeezed, the grounds would be extracted of every ounce of flavor. But during French press cleanings, my nose is inundated with the warm, nutty aroma of freshly ground beans. I pondered what I could do with them besides toss them in the trash or use them in these interesting ways.
Perhaps I could make a meal out of them—something quick and low-key. (Have you heard how even leftover coffee grounds are loaded with health benefits?)
Enter . . . Veggie Noodles and Raisins with Coffee-Balsamic Reduction.
Yes, weird . . . but in a good way.
If you’re a coffee lover, give this a try. If you’re not a coffee lover (the horror!), ask a coffee-loving friend to save you a mound of used coffee grounds. The coffee flavor is subtle, believe it or not. And don’t worry that you’ll be chewing on what feels like mouthfuls of grit—the coffee grounds are evenly dispersed, and have soaked up all the balsamic-y goodness.
Care to get started? You know you’re curious.
Veggie Noodles and Raisins with Coffee-Balsamic Reduction
Recipe by C. Marie
I used carrots and celery for my veggie noodles. You might be in a squash-y mood; maybe you have a hankering for sweet potatoes or zucchini. Play around with the amounts, too. The sky’s the limit.
What I gathered together:
1-2 carrots (or as many as it takes to equal around 1 cup of carrot “noodles”)
2 celery stalks (or however many you need to equal around ½ cup of celery “noodles”)
1 tablespoon used coffee grounds
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raisins
salt and pepper, to taste
How I threw it together:
Create veggie noodles and dump them in a bowl.
Okay, pause a minute. I have a confession to make.
Creating the veggie noodles is a breeze with a spiralizer. Not yet owning one, I used my none-too-spiffy vegetable peeler, forgetting that I used the largest holes of a box grater last time I made veggie noodles . . . a faster process that yielded decent results. Ugh!
If you prefer, you can cut the veggies into skinny matchsticks. Do whatever works for you.
Ready for another confession?
I intended to plunk my noodles in boiling water and give them a 5-minute cook. Thanks to my brain not reminding me, that didn’t happen. Their rawness didn’t bother me too much, but for a more wiggly, noodle-y effect, give them a quick cook.
Enough of my muddled mind. Carry on.
Place a small skillet on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-low. Dump in the coffee grounds and the balsamic vinegar. (Warning: it will get smoky.) Watch carefully—the dinky proportions reduce at lightening speed. Ten seconds should be long enough. Remove pan from the heat—you should have around ½ tablespoon of coffee-balsamic reduction. Drizzle the reduction over the noodles. Sprinkle in raisins. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together, and taste your creation.
The distinct flavors of carrot and celery hold up well. As I said before, the coffee flavor isn’t overwhelming, but compliments the sweet-tangy balsamic reduction, and the peppery notes from my abundance of pepper (hey, I like lots of pepper!). The chewy raisins were the perfect finishing touch.
Please, let me know how it goes with you and your not-muddled mind.