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Pomegranate Molasses Could Be Your Secret Weapon

This is an installment of NPR's Cook Your Cupboard, an ongoing food series about working with what you have on hand. Have a food that has you stumped? Share a photo and we'll ask chefs about our favorites. The current submission category is: Freezer Finds!

Katharyn Head in East Lansing Mich., wasn't sure how to use canned chop suey veggies, chickpea flour and rose water. So we called up Brooklyn-based chef and cookbook author Louisa Shafia for some advice.

The Food: Canned Veggies

Head bought a dented can of vegetables because it was on sale — but, she says, they're too salty to eat straight from the can.

The Fix: Asian-Inspired

Fried Rice: Take the can of chopped veggies and sautee in a little bit of peanut oil with some cooked rice, toasted peanuts or cashews, lots of fresh basil and cilantro just before you take it off the heat. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Vietnamese-style summer rolls: Reduce the amount of salt by blanching the vegetables for 30 seconds — then shock in ice water to preserve the crispiness.

Roll them in rice paper with lots of fresh mint, basil, cilantro, cooked rice noodles and some grilled tofu or shrimp.

Whip together a dipping sauce of Hoisin (Chinese dipping sauce), peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and Sriracha (Thai hot sauce).

The Food: Chickpea Flour And Rose Water

Head bought the chickpea flour for a recipe of vegan french toast. The rose water was an impulse buy at a Middle Eastern grocery store. She's used it in a few drinks but feels uninspired.

The Fix: Persian-Inspired

Shortbread cookies: Mix chickpea flour, sugar, cardamom, a little bit of rose water and butter together and bake.

Meatballs: Mixing the chickpea flour with ground chicken and season with a little bit of turmeric and cardamom.

Granita: Mix the rose water with fresh fruit such as watermelon fora semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavorings — a treat that originated in Sicily, Italy.

Take the flesh out of the watermelon, blend until smooth, mix in lime juice and start with a teaspoon of rose water, some salt, and a little bit of honey. Spread the mix on a baking sheet, put it in your freezer, and every few hours scrape it with a spoon or a fork. You'll end up with a refreshing dessert — with a mild hint of rose.

Bonus Tips: Pomegranate Molasses As A Secret Weapon

Shafia explains that pomegranates, native to Iran, have been used in Persian cuisine since the beginning of their civilization.

One classic use for pomegranate is in stew — like a stew of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses mixed with chicken, turkey or duck (which could also be made with winter squash or tempeh).

Or use pomegranate molasses in a dipping sauce:

Mix the pomegranate molasses with olive oil, minced garlic, a little bit of Dijon mustard to thicken it, and enough salt to give it some flavor. This is a wonderful dipping sauce for artichokes.

And some last-minute summer time grilling: Marinate lamb, chicken, tempeh or tofu with pomegranate molasses, walnuts, minced garlic, parsley and salt.

"It makes for a magical sweet and savory taste," says Shafia.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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