The importance of leftovers is greatly overlooked in the culinary literature. Leftovers are both a creative challenge and an economical way to stretch the food budget. There are a few techniques that can promote the use of yesterday’s dinner.
The first move should be to put the leftovers away immediately. Don’t let them sit on the stove or a serving plate until you go to bed. The possibility of collecting airborne nasty stuff greatly increases with the passage of time. Once you have engaged yourself to put them away, take a moment to consider how and when you are going to use them. Are you going to freeze or refrigerate? Either way, make sure that your package is appropriate for where your are storing them. The key to using leftovers is planting the seed early. As you put them away say to yourself: “I can have that for lunch tomorrow”(refrigerate) or “That will be great next weekend on pizzas” (freeze).
There are a few simple tools that make storing and retrieving leftovers more convenient. For frozen food, single serving freezer bags and a sharpie are your best bet. Make sure that when you put them in the freezer you can easily see them. You are much more apt to use frozen leftovers if they are in single serving sizes and are at your fingertips.
For refrigerated leftovers, either use disposable plastic containers with tops that fit well or pyrex bowls with lids. As much as I dislike cleaning the bowls of old leftovers, I prefer the latter for a number of reasons. The tendency to stack endless containers until your fridge is overrun by them is much easier with 10 cent containers. If you have to clean the container you are much less likely to let is sit for a very long time and therefore more likely to actually use them. Obviously, any use of disposable anything is not good for the planet.
The creative challenge to leftovers is in their transformation. If you serve your family the same meal three days in a row they will revolt. Leftovers are not just what you cooked for dinner. I often end up with extra vegetables and cheese from an appetizer and have short ends of pasta, beans and other stuff in my pantry. As far as I’m concerned it’s all part of the leftover palette. The creative challenge for most is where to start. There are several conveyances that are perfect for leftovers: Omelets, pizza, sandwiches, pasta and quiche. Here is one that is perfect for a weekend brunch.
- 8 Large Eggs
- 1 Onion, chopped
- Leftover Cheese
- Leftover Vegetable (the last time we used 4-5 asparagus spears)
- 3-4 Slices Bacon or Other Leftover Meat
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Tarragon
- Salt and Pepper
- Basic Pie Crust (will post tomorrow)
- Mixing Bowl
- Ovenproof Pie Plate
- Chef’s Knife
- Saute Pan
- Pre heat oven to 400.
- Prepare pie crust.
- Cook bacon and set aside on paper towel.
- Saute onion and briefly add vegetable. Let cool.
- In mixing bowl, combine eggs with onion, crumpled bacon or chopped up leftover meat (ham, chicken, turkey, sausage), cheese (as much as you like, about three tablespoons usually is good), tarragon and salt and pepper.
- Pour mixture into pie crust.
- Bake for about 50 minutes, until the top of the pie has visibly set up.
- Let cool for 15-20 minutes.