Magic leftovers

Magic leftovers

Leftovers can be useful. For me, leftovers can do many things, and all of them are a little bit like magic.

Leftovers can be really useful - that's nothing new. But how many of us positively love leftovers? I certainly put up my hand here!

Using up leftovers is a challenge cooks around the world have to solve. No wonder every cuisine has its own specific leftover dishes - arancini rice balls call for leftover risotto, and bubble and squeak calls for the leftover trimmings of a Sunday roast, to name just a couple! And many traditional Greek dishes from either the pot or the oven are actually meant to be eaten over several days.

Personally, I rarely find myself trying avoid leftovers, on the contrary! For me, leftovers are many things, and all of them are a little bit like magic:

  • No cooking (or much less cooking) required. I do love cooking but it's nice to get a day off sometimes too! (This also means we get to eat earlier than usual :)
  • Many types of dishes actually taste better the next day. Stews, curries and soups most definitely develop a deeper and rounder flavour once everything has had time to infuse a bit longer.
  • Using up leftovers is also the sustainable and responsible thing to do for obvious reasons.
  • Last but not least, intentionally cooking with leftovers in mind is a real lifesaver when you are short of time, or when you are cooking just for yourself. Plan your cooking with that in mind (i.e. cook for leftovers the day before your crazy busy day(s).

But what to do about the looming boredom of the 'same again'? Well, it doesn't have to be the 'same again'. Not at all, in fact! Here are some of my favourite ways of either upgrading or recycling leftovers:

Jazz it up: Use different toppings and flavourings to get a new taste experience out of the same dish. For example you can have a soup or a stew finished with cream or yoghurt one day, and with pickles or sauerkraut the next. Or a curry topped with herbs one day and topped with toasted seeds & coconut shreds the next. Or a stir fry with a miso based sauce one day, and a creamy tahini sauce the next.

Get saucy: Make a sauce for dry leftovers, for example falafels, meatballs or roasted veggies. Say a yoghurt sauce, a peanut sauce, or even a tomato sauce.

Add to it: Chuck in a tin of beans, lentils or chickpeas to add volume, and change the character of the dish. Or add some greens.

Hide it: Fried rice, a pasta bake, frittata, or a noodle soup or a stew are great ways to use up all kinds of odds and ends, from left over stir fried veggies to leftover Sunday roast.

Layer it: I often use small portions of leftovers (i.e. not enough for a full meal) as an extra layer of flavour in the next meal. Basically, I just chuck it into the next meal (depends on the type of meal of course I usually look for a matching consistency. I don't worry matching flavours... it always matches once all the layers come together.

Plate it up: Or if you don't want to 'chuck it all in' you could have a tapas night: Plate up different bits of leftovers, maybe add a salad or a piece of cheese and some olives and off you go, Spanish style!

I'm sure there are many many other ways of using leftovers. What is your favourite? I would love to find out!

Categories: EAT, EXPLORE


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