|Fresh Food Tips - March 2010|
So it may not appear as aesthetically pleasing the second and third time around. Heat, reheat, and repeat. Sound familiar to anyone? Some of us are pretty efficient when it comes to our food waste but statistics say that many of us leave a lot to be desired in this category. We throw away nearly 40% of the food we produce! As we bear down and cut out unnecessary spending in our budgets due to a turbulent economy, why don’t we focus more on unnecessary food waste?
It’s all about how creative you want to be when cooking with leftovers. No combination is necessarily a bad one and this is your time to really think outside of the box. Remember, nobody becomes better without practice and if you develop an arrangement that doesn’t agree with the taste buds, well give yourself a pat on the back for trying it. Then it’s back to the drawing board! A website has been created for people that want to learn what and how to cook with their leftovers (www.leftoverchef.com). Leftover Chef allows you to browse recipes by category or to choose from a menu of possible ingredients and see if they can help you by displaying any recipes. Many are jumping on the bandwagon as Gourmet Magazine even started a whole section dedicated solely to cooking with leftovers.
If you aren’t in the mood for the same thing twice in a row you can always look to freezing some of the food to prolong its freshness. You can use these frozen items to improve a dish later on. And don’t forget about using various leftover dishes for lunch throughout the week. You’ll probably eat healthier this way and save money too. Many times we don’t finish out leftovers because we simply forget about them. Be sure to clearly mark them so you know what you have at your disposal to make that next big taste treat for dinner.
Here’s some simple ideas to get you started with leftovers in the kitchen. Consider vegetables you have left in small uncooked portions after making a recipe as part of your leftover creations, e.g. a few mushrooms, half bag of spinach, 1 stalk of broccoli. This will help you clean out your refrigerator by eating everything and not composting or throwing anything away when your next batch of fresh food arrives.
A soup can be made fairly easy with minimal ingredients such as those last stalks of celery, chopped leftover protein, cooking greens of any kind, vegetables from an Asian stir fry and a little creativity. You just need a base like a broth or stock and can then add your vegetables, meats, oils, and sauces to taste.
If you make a big pot of rice with a meal, you’ll then have a nice start to a next meal with the rice that’s left over. Chop up fresh vegetables and try different sauces to have your rice the second time. Brown rice, black rice, barley, and quinoa are all great choices, so mix it up. You can toss with a lemon vinaigrette made with ¼ cup olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, some salt and tarragon to taste. Or make fried rice the second time around by stir frying some vegetables with garlic, ginger and onion, and adding in some tofu or other protein (leftover is great!). Make an Asian sauce made with tamari, rice vinegar, honey and cayenne and add in the rice, sauce and an egg if you like.
We’ve all had that spaghetti left over but no more sauce. Try using up some vegetables with olive oil and garlic for your sauce topped with Parmesan cheese. Or keep some pesto around for the ever great sauce that mixes very well with lots of vegetables over pasta. My favorite mix is mushrooms, peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes. And a nice hearty sauce can start with fresh or jarred tomatoes, spice with garlic, basil and oregano and add a protein you may have left over like some sausage or hamburger.
Croquettes are just pancakes that are not for breakfast since they can be made of leftover chicken, turkey, fish or anything else you can think of. Just chop up your protein and add some chopped celery, mushrooms or other vegetables. Flavor with a pesto sauce or other spices and mix with a cream sauce (mix over heat 2 tblsp butter, 3 tablsp flour and 1 cup milk). Make pancakes, dip in egg then breadcrumbs and sauté. We have the chicken croquette recipe on our website.