One of these days, I may write a cookbook including only wild and wacky ideas for incorporating leftovers into new recipes. No matter what you had the first time, there’s always a creative way to re-purpose what’s left over into something delicious. Vegetables find their way into omelets or onto pizzas, a lone chicken breast can be diced and turned into a salad spread, and even stale bread can be reinvigorated into a delicious dessert (soon, I’ll share the recipe for my Gram’s unmatchable bread pudding).
Recently, I rallied together some black beans left over from Taco Tuesday, more (but different) beans left over from a take-out fried chicken meal, several bits and pieces of leftover peppers and onions, and the remnants of corn from the sweet corn ice cream that I highlighted during National Ice Cream Month (I promised I’d do something fun with them, and here it is)—and turning the whole thing into dinner, covering Meatless Monday and National Waffle Day, all in one swoop. Did you follow all that? This is how my brain works, friends, so when I share with you that I sometimes wake up thinking about recipes, I do hope you realize I’m not joking.
The truth is, I already had these waffles in mind for using the leftover corn from the ice cream. These sourdough-based crispy gems are adapted from one of my favorite recipes from King Arthur Baking’s website. I’ve never made the recipe as written (theirs is for pancakes), but I have enjoyed various versions of it as waffles. If you don’t have sourdough going (this recipe requires it), use any other recipe for waffles with corn mix-in—maybe this one, but omit vanilla, cinnamon or anything else that would make them sweet or “breakfast-y.” The corn itself is sweet enough. Or just use cornmeal waffles or cornmeal pancakes—you know, be the boss of your own kitchen.
The southwest-inspired topping was a no-brainer for me, with the beans and bell peppers I had left over, and it will be a great dance partner to the corn and scallion flavors in the waffles. You may note that the King Arthur recipe calls for a “bean salad” topping, which is similar but more of a cool, relish-y accompaniment. I wanted something warm and hearty enough to be served as dinner.
I cook by instinct, rarely by recipe, and for no particular reason while dreaming up ideas for this meal, I had a question pop up in my mind about how to add another element to the finished dish so it didn’t seem dry, as waffles without a sauce sometimes do. We use sour cream as a topper on a lot of southwest-themed dishes, but I hate that it makes the entire dish cold before you take a single bite. Anything liquid would make the waffles soggy, completely defeating the purpose of the whole meal. And then, suddenly, every light in the world came on at once in my imagination. Perhaps one of the biggest “aha moments” my brain has ever experienced in the kitchen.
Whipped cream. But not sweet. Add a savory spice. But not salt. Boom!
The result was super light and airy, with a rich but subtle flavor that melted into a silky river all the way through the bean topping. It was absolutely delicious, and I cannot believe I’ve never had something like it in a restaurant. I seasoned it with chipotle, but paprika or cumin would’ve been just as tasty.
And oh man, just like that, I’m off and running with a million other things this savory whipped cream should accompany. Makes me ache for autumn, when I can spend a whole afternoon simmering black bean soup.
But it’s almost dinner time, so I’ll have to back-burner that idea for a few months. Let’s get cooking!
Adapted from this recipe from King Arthur Baking (formerly King Arthur Flour). I halve the recipe for just the two of us, as follows. It made 5 waffles, each about 4×6 inches.
1/4 cup sourdough starter (recently fed)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour (remember to fluff, sprinkle, level when you measure)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. canola oil (if making pancakes, only use 1 1/2 tsp.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
- Combine the starter, flour and milk in a large bowl, mixing until thoroughly incorporated. Cover and allow it to rest on the counter at least 30 minutes in a warm place, such as the microwave.
- Add the oil, baking soda, salt and egg, and stir until combined. Fold in the corn and scallions, plus about half of the chopped jalapeno listed in the topping ingredients. Note that if you are making waffles with the mixture, you should use the greater amount of oil noted above. The oil in the batter helps prevent sticking and also ensures a lovely crispy exterior to the waffles.
- Bake according to your waffle maker’s recommendations, and keep the waffles warm while you finish the topping.
I’ve made these waffles in both a Belgian waffle maker and a standard maker. Les and I decided we like the standard waffles best. If you don’t have a waffle maker, use the lesser amount of oil and make the recipe as pancakes, as suggested on the King Arthur website.
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 small jalapeno, diced and divided* (see notes)
1 1/2 cups leftover cooked beans* (I used leftover black beans plus Bojangles’ takeout beans)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful fresh cilantro for garnish
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle powder
Maybe you don’t have this exact amount of leftover beans staring at you from the fridge? I get it. This is what I used because it was what I had. If you’re starting from scratch, any kind of canned beans would be suitable here, and you’ll need about a can and a half. Pinto beans would be closest to my leftover recipe, and I’d suggest do not drain or rinse them. The can liquid would be very similar to the leftover takeout beans I used.
We love spicy things in our house, but obviously you can simply omit the jalapeno if it isn’t your thing. I divided the total amount listed, using half in the waffles and the rest in the topping.
I recommend getting your waffles in order first, because the topping comes together quickly while they are baking in the iron. No waffle iron? Go get one. Just kidding—use the King Arthur recipe I suggested, which is technically designed for pancakes that would be every bit as wonderful in this kind of recipe. And then tomorrow, go get a waffle iron—I’ll give you plenty of reasons to love having one. 😊
Instructions for the topping
- Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté the onions and peppers until softened and slightly translucent.
- Add the cooked beans and give the whole thing a quick stir to combine. If it seems dry, add some broth or tomato sauce to compensate.
- Slice and season the cherry tomatoes and toss them on top. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat to give the flavors time to mix.
- Use a hand mixer or whisk to whip the cream until it is soft and pillowy. You never want to push whipped cream too far (they call that butter), because once it gets to the “chunky” appearance, you cannot rein it back in. Sprinkle in chipotle, paprika or cumin and whisk gently to distribute it.
- When your waffles or pancakes are ready, spoon the bean mixture over the top and sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Dollop the whipped cream on top and dinner is served.