As you can tell probably tell from reading this blog, I love reusing leftovers and doing my best to eliminate food waste when cooking. Sometimes it makes for weird combos or causes severe anxiety about not being able to figure out what to do with those last few springs of thyme, but most of the time it allows me to flex my beloved creative muscles and feel good about using ingredients to their full potential instead of throwing them in the trash.
This past week I found myself really digging through my fridge and creating new lives for what was previously wrapped in plastic and at the bottom of my produce drawer. Here’s what I did, and these ideas can definitely be applied to other leftovers in your life:
Toss It In Noodles
I was Marie Kondo-ing my room recently (of course) and got rid of a bunch of old magazines–including some old issues of Real Simple that had some nice meal plans in them so I tore those pages out. I made the Slow-Cooker Asian Shredded Beef and served it with this Asian Slaw I found to add some more veggies and freshness. They made a delectable combo – and also provided elements that could make great new meals. A had a lot of the extra slaw, so I decided to toss it all (with a little additional sauce) in brown rice noodles to make a cold noodle salad. I was cheap but I think this would’ve tasted delicious with some shrimp and/or chicken too!
The beef and slaw bowl.
The Asian slaw thoroughly tossed in brown rice noodles as a cold salad.
Make It Into Tacos
Okay, I didn’t actually do this, but I just thought the elements would make a great twist on tacos! The shredded beef was really tender and had great spicy/sweet flavor, so I could just imagine it tasting superb in a blistered corn tortilla, topped with the slaw and a squeeze of lime.
Later in the week, this is what I had sitting around my kitchen:
- Potatoes: sitting in a bag on my floor, growing roots and drying out
- Broccoli: half a bag leftover from the above slaw
- Rice: large bag that was recently given to me, in pantry
- Cheese: from a variety of meals, a chunk of Gruyere, 1/2 pack of Boursin, and shredded cheddar
- Vegetables: 1/4 shallot, head of garlic, 1/2 white onion
- Bread Crusts
I stared at it all, trying to think how I could use it all up in one shot, and after the possibility of a twice-baked potato was erased (I had too many potatoes and they were a bit too small), a cheesy, starchy casserole entered my mind. Though this used too many pots and pans for my taste, it was really scrumptious. It’s too hard to write an exact recipe down, but basically I cooked everything separately and then loaded it all in the casserole dish, mixed it together and baked it. So first, the rice–it was white and I cooked it according to package directions (I think it was 1 cup dry rice), set it aside. For the potatoes I peeled, quartered them, and boiled them in milk (I’m telling you, these potatoes were not in good shape, but honestly after washing and peeling and cutting off the bad spots, they were fine!). I had done that recently with a French recipe, and I thought it would help keep them nice and flavorful. I also reused that milk as the base for the sauce. I kept the potato milk simmering, added some flour to thicken it, and whisked in allll my leftover cheese, and kept cooking until it became a nice, thick cheesy sauce. Then I sauteed some garlic, onion, shallot and broccoli, and loaded all of those things (rice, potatoes, broccoli, sauce) into a glass casserole dish, mixing it all around. I pulverized my crusts in a food processor, and sprinkled them on top and browned everything in the oven for about 20 minutes. Creamy, rich, and deep in flavor, it was a great way to use up leftovers in my kitchen–and a base you could use for all sorts of elements!
To see what I’m eating in the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter @ClaireLeaden!