Back away from the Bisquick, friends, because your waffle iron can do a lot more than make waffles. By creating additional surface area, and applying a high temperature to it, a waffle iron produces new textures and flavors, crisping starches like rice or potatoes and caramelizing vegetables and fruits. Just as a waffle’s myriad compartments hold syrup and butter, other foods similarly benefit when it comes to salsa, pesto and other toppings. Altering the shape and topography of food doesn’t change its nutritional properties. This accords with the principle of “TITO,” or “Twinkie-in, Twinkie-out.” Still, waffling your foods adds a fun twist to familiar favorites as well as reinventing leftovers.
A waffle iron is great for cooking veggies such as zucchini and other squash, eggplant, peppers and asparagus. Slice about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, toss with olive oil, kosher salt and cook for 3–5 minutes. Asparagus stalks 1/2 inch in diameter or skinnier work best. Go really green by making these waffle iron kale chips.
You might wonder if the waffle maker will punch holes in a quesadilla. The answer: not really. Instead, it makes little waffle-shaped tortilla pockets of cheesy goodness. A round waffle maker is probably better than a square one, but it’s hard to see how you’d go wrong either way.
For each omelet, beat two eggs plus two tablespoons of milk, stir in chopped onions and peppers, pour onto a waffle iron and cook until the eggs are set. Is it an omelet? Is it a frittata? You decide.
Waffles are basically muffins anyway, though muffin batter is a little thicker and usually sweeter. Still, any muffin recipe will cook up in your waffle iron. Pour it in, close the lid, cook until steam stops coming out. Leave it in a little longer if you want a more crispy bite. Keep a sheet pan underneath your waffle iron to catch any spills. With this in mind, you can see how a waffle maker would also be great for making banana bread, carrot cake and even brownies.
6. HASH BROWNS
Hash browns and other grated root vegetables offer a wealth of waffle iron opportunities. Shred potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes on a waffle iron brushed with melted butter to produce waffled hash browns. Combine with beaten egg for latkes. Change the flavor by substituting sweet potatoes for some or all of the potato or use other root veggies like carrots, parsnips and turnips. Shred something else entirely, like zucchini, and bind together with milk, flour and grated parm to make fritters.
7. TATER TOTS
Some people may say these are simply another form of hash browns, but I beg to differ. Skip the grating and fill your waffle iron with tater tots for a crunchy delight.
8. GRILLED CHEESE
The grilled-cheese variations alone, when you consider the innumerable combinations of bread, cheese and other ingredients, are simply staggering. Here’s one example, another and another. I’d be inclined to make a grilled-cheese sandwich using two leftover waffles as the bread.
Falafel is usually pan- or deep-fried, but when you make a waffle falafel, the only oil necessary is cooking spray. Bonus points for using a round waffle maker, since falafel shape matches round pita bread.
Whole potatoes, baked or microwaved until tender first, take on a fabulous browned exterior in these waffle whole potatoes. Use red potatoes, yellow or Yukons.
11. REPURPOSE LEFTOVERS
There are a lot of leftovers that take on new life in a waffle iron. A short list: leftover fries, leftover pizza, leftover mac & cheese, leftover mashed potatoes, leftover stuffing, leftover fried rice, leftover risotto, leftover polenta, and leftover meatloaf.