When I talk about what we’re eating, and show pictures and descriptions of our meals, everyone exclaims, “You must spend all day in the kitchen!” Well, I do prioritise time in the kitchen as essential for my family’s health, but I still go to work, to the beach, play with my daughter, and have a life out of the kitchen. The trick is that when I do cook or prepare a meal or dish, I make a lot of food. That is, at least 2-4 more servings than we are going to eat right away. Then, I make the absolute most of the leftovers! Sometimes we eat the same exact meal again, especially when it’s an amazingly tasty dish, but often I get creative with the leftover food and make new dishes out of already cooked food. Leftovers is no longer a word to moan at; it’s the key to eating well without cooking all day every day! To get you started, here are the basics of Lovin’ Leftovers.
– PAN-FRY: Toss in a pan over medium heat. Works best for saucy, wet leftover foods like slow-cooked casseroles, stews and curries.
– TOASTER OVEN: About 5 minutes under medium to high heat works best for bulky leftover food like large vegetable chunks, chicken legs, lamb shanks, fish fillets. If the meat or veg is very thick, cut in half or slice thinner so leftover pieces will heat more evenly.
– GRILL: Same as toaster oven, but there is more room so you can re-heat larger quantities for more people.
NOTE: Leftover chicken should only be re-heated once before consuming. Fortunately, there are many delicious options for eating leftover chicken cold!
One-Pan Leftover Meals
One of the simplest ways to make an array of leftover food look like an entirely new dish is to chop and mix together in a pan or pot. The English have a famous One-Pan Leftover Meal called Bubble & Squeak. But you can do it with any leftover food!
1/ Chop or cut (with kitchen scissors) any leftover meat and veg into a pan on the stove.
2/ Add new herbs, spices, mince garlic and/or ginger, tomato paste, tomatoes, spinach leaves, or whatever you desire.
3/ Pan-fry until warm and you have a whole new meal!
– Chopped leftover chicken thigh and pumpkin, plus some cherry tomatoes, a small spoon of minced garlic, and some fresh coriander or parsley. Beautiful!
– Chopped leftover roast lamb, sweet potato and zucchini, plus a large spoon of tomato paste, bit of minced garlic, dried rosemary and thyme and a handful of diced tomatoes. Mix in pan until warm, then stir through some baby spinach leaves. Easy gourmet!
Salads with Leftovers
1/ Tear some leafy greens directly onto your plates/bowls or into a large bowl. Vary your meals by using different greens each time:
mixed lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, etc.
2/ Chop or cut (with kitchen scissors) any leftover meat and veg onto the greens.
3/ Add optional extras like: avocado, raw veg, nuts, red onion, tomato, etc.
4/ Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over your salad, add cracked pepper and toss.
NO-GREENS SALADS aka SCRAP SALADS: These are great for packed/picnic lunches!
Example: Mix chopped leftover chicken, beef or sausages with beetroot, pumpkin, avocado, red onion, nuts, fresh herbs and a quick dressing. Delicious and nutritious!
DRESSINGS: Oil and vinegar (and even a squeeze of lemon or lime) is the quickest option, but in just a couple more minutes, you can mix up a unique dressing.
– Put desired dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously. Or put ingredients in a small bowl and stir vigorously with a fork.
– Measurement ratio suggestion: 1-2 parts vinegar to 3 parts oil.
DRESSING INGREDIENTS IDEAS: Olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, minced or grated garlic/ginger, lemon juice, vinegar (balsamic, red wine, apple cider vinegar), chopped fresh herbs, dried oregano, Dijon-type mustard, shallots/green onions, soy sauce, and yoghurt.
MORE ON LOVIN’ LEFTOVERS: ‘Same Food, New Dish: Recipes Using Leftovers’
The Basics of Lovin’ Leftovers – November 2012