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Leftovers can get a pretty bad rap. After all, what do we do with leftovers? We put them in a “doggie bag.” A doggie bag? Does this mean that good food is now relegated to the status of pet chow? Not that this should come as any surprise, considering the condescending attitude toward uneaten food that has been going on for centuries. Even Jerry Seinfeld did a monologue on the doggie bag quipping that a man who requests one might as well have asked for his “genitals to be wrapped in a package.” But are leftovers really deserving of such antagonism? After all, American diners love “chop suey”, even though the term literally translates to “miscellaneous leftovers.” And doesn’t everything deserve a second chance. Besides, with the holidays coming, reinventing leftovers is likely to become the temporary obsession of great and not so great chefs all over America, so let’s discuss ways to make the best of them.
Baked or mashed, you can give new life to old spuds. Slice some baked potatoes into a savory veggie soup topped with some melty Colby Cheese or use some mashed ones to form a crust for your shepherd’s pie. (veggie or traditional)
Rice may be the ultimate leftover ingredient because it goes with everything. Given an excess go grains, you can do anything from sweets, like cocoa rice pudding, to a mushroom fried rice, or use them in a spicy curried pork salad.
Rice and beans, franks and beans, beans on toast, what can’t you pair with beans? Keep it simple or dress them up in a casserole with some veal sausage or, even better, throw them on a corn and black bean pizza for a light lunch or appetizer.
There should be an unwritten law against discarding leftover vegetables. Put these superstars to work in a vegetable pie with veggies d’jour depending on what’s in the fridge produce- wise after the big holiday binge. Veggie noodle soup is a welcome cold weather go to and you can always sneak a few greens and oranges into a mashed potato pie.
If the thought of reheated pasta with sauce seems a bit old hat, consider incorporating your pasta into a frittata or a spaghetti pie. Seconds anyone?
Now we get down to the real meat of the matter. Save your cuts from the fate of the mere microwave by adding them to some hot chili or tacos. Chicken is a great salad topper and turkey is delicious when layered into lasagna.
Where’s the beef? Try looking in the patty melts and pasta dishes. You can make hash with corned beef or salads with sliced roast. No matter how you slice it, meat can be a great addition to your leftover creation.
So what are you going to do with your leftovers this year. We really want to know. Let us hear how you’re getting creative this holiday season. We love to hear from you!