Chat Leftovers: Reusing cooking water


Water you used for cooking vegetables can be reused to cook rice or pasta — or other vegetables. (Tracy A. Woodward /The Washington Post)
January 16, 2013

And so another drizzly day dawns. A good excuse for you to stay in, curl up and enlighten yourself with the latest from Food. Start with Bonnie Benwick’s piece on Mo Rocca, who has parlayed the skill of not cooking into his own TV show. In his Cooking for One column, Joe Yonan tells us what single chefs serve themselves when they’re not cooking for a crowd. And Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin introduces us to smoked olive oil. He used to be a skeptic, but now — well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

After which, of course, you must tune in to today’s Free Range chat. It’s your chance to probe the agile brains of the Food staff with your culinary queries and comments. And speaking of agile brains, we’ll be joined by Mo Rocca, So be there at noon for the action.

Bring your questions! Here’s a leftover from last week’s chat:

I remember learning in nutrition classes that in third-world countries, it’s generally recommended that people make use of the water left from cooking vegetables, etc., instead of throwing those nutrients away. I was wondering if there are any good ways to use, say, the water from cooking beans or steaming veggies.

I guess I must have grown up in a third-world country! My mother routinely saved the water from boiling potatoes and used it to make terrific bread. So that’s my first suggestion.

A more obvious (and probably more useful) idea is to save vegetable cooking water to use as a starter liquid for stock/broth or soup. Here’s another: When you’re boiling or steaming veggies to use in a pasta or rice dish, reuse the cooking water for boiling your pasta or making the rice. (Or save it for the next time you cook pasta or rice.) Water in which pasta has been cooked can be used to loosen a sauce that’s too thick.

To make sure you want to dedicate your fridge space to a container of veggie cooking water, taste it first while it's still a little warm. If the flavor is good, you’ve got a valuable ingredient there.

If the water is flavorless, then meh. But don’t throw it out! Cool it down and use it to water your plants. The more we can reuse our resources, the better it makes us feel.

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