You’re a good cook when you can make a delicious dish from fresh ingredients. But creating something new based on leftovers is especially satisfying. Those of us who value frugality and conservation are proudest when our unique leftover-inspired creation are enjoyed by everyone in the family.
Every home cook has to manage leftovers one way or another. Serving leftovers as they are is the easiest and often the tastiest. But when they aren’t enough for a whole meal, or you suspect there won’t be takers, leftovers can enhance your next cooking project.
Never try to recycle food that is starting to spoil. Spoiled food cannot be salvaged. You will ruin the entire dish and risk getting everyone sick. Always examine food carefully, and heat leftovers thoroughly before serving.
Need help with organizing your leftovers? See Thirteen Smart Ways to Manage Your Leftovers
Follow the links for more detailed recipes.
- Soups. Good for vegetables or fruits (but not usually together), meat, fish, bones from fresh or cooked meat or fish, drippings, wine, sauces, cooked or raw grains and legumes. Soups made from cooked leftovers will need more flavor so include meat or vegetable stock, fresh vegetables or herbs. You can also add the new soup to the end. When making soup, add meat bones, then add fresh vegetables, cooked meats or vegetables, and fresh herbs.
- Patties. You can use cooked grains, meat, raw and cooked vegetables. Grated raw onions will jazz up any patties, and a couple of eggs will hold it all together. Read my universal recipe, How to Make Patties from Anything and Everything.
- Quiche. Good for small amounts of milk or cheese and cooked vegetables, fish or meat. You can make a fine quiche with eggs, vegetables and herbs but no cheese. The crust can be made with leftovers, or skipped altogether.
- Wraps, tortillas, calzones, pizza, pita. Any kind of freshly baked dough will revive interest in leftovers, especially stews, meats, legumes and vegetables.
- Chili, stews, and casseroles. Add vegetables, beans, meats, and small amounts of soups or sauces. Small-grained cereals like cooked or raw oats, bulgur, or farina add texture and won’t be noticeable in stews. Or base your casserole on rice or pasta, add vegetables, eggs and some seasoning.
- Baked goods: Fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains can be added to bread dough, muffins and pancakes. Pie, anyone?
- Sauces for pasta or rice can be made from leftover vegetables. White sauce can take any vegetable and then made into a cream soup.
- Puddings or kugels. Leftover bread and cooked fruit make a great pudding. A kugel is a vegetable pudding and freshens up tired fresh or cooked vegetables. Grate or mash the vegetables, add eggs, salt and pepper, and bake in an oil-lined pan until brown on top.
- Potato cakes. These are good for recycling leftover cooked potatoes, which usually don’t freeze well.
- Salads. Chicken, beans, and cooked vegetables all add interest to a fresh vegetable salad.
What creative ways have you cooked with leftovers? You can share your failures, too!