Leftovers used to be something I dreaded as a child because my brilliant mother would whip it up into what she called cottleston pie. I am certain it was in fact delicious, but as a child who liked flavours and textures totally separate, there was no way I ‘d even let myself enjoy any bite I took.
Now, as an adult who hates waste especially wasted food, I’ve found a way to meet in the middle. Somewhere between my totally well intentioned “I am making one meal for everyone. Take it or go hungry.” and my reality of a cranky family with different schedules and dietary issues I make many different dishes. It doesn’t matter how many meals I cook. There will be leftovers.
So let’s assume the majority of kids’ leftovers are Mac and cheese, rice, pasta. Those are the bland ones at least. Those are the ones that need a little pizazz.
First plain pasta can be reheated and served to the kids again. It just needs to be done right so it has the right texture. Keep the microwave food closed and grab a small pot.
This will heat the pasta up neither giving it that rubbery microwaved texture not overcooking it to a mushy mess.
Now for the upgrades:
1. Add hot sauce. Salsa verde, Alex’s Ugly Sauce, Pukka Sauce, Piri Piri, Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce. I’m waiting for The County General to start selling their amazing Scotch Bonnet hot sauce to make my leftovers sing! Locally, maybe Lone Star will sell their sauces too!
2. This works for leftover cheese pizza, pasta, and macaroni and cheese. Add more layers. I love to add broccoli (you can use a little garlic and white wine to cook it in.). Spinach is tasty and adds a bit of colour. Just about any vegetables from your CSA can be sautéed and tossed in/on. Bacon (need I say more?).
3. Make a pasta salad. If you have cold pasta you can add some feta or a bit of a nice dry crumbly blue cheese. You want a very salty cheese to hold up against the pasta. Add in some cherry tomatoes. Throw in some wilted (as in gently sautéed with olive oil and garlic not just wilting in the shelf bins of your fridge. Save those wilting greens for your soups) or fresh finely cut greens. Leftover corn can be cut off the cob and added in too. Then toss with a vinaigrette or my favorite creamy lemon dressing.
4. Soup’s on! Make soup. Even out of a box or can and add some leftover rice or pasta.
5. Rice gets it’s own category. Rice can be frozen in baggies. Or lay it out in one big bag and on it’s side push a chopstick over the bag to make an indentation and portion it out do you are not stuck with on huge frozen lump. Next time you need a quick serving of rice take a portion. Put it in a bowl and run it under the sink for less than a second. Pop it in the microwave and cook for a couple minutes until steaming. Do not add more than a few drops of water or it will be a soggy porridge and not a fluffy bowl of rice. The other options are to keep the rice fresh and make a rice salad or a nice fried rice.