6½ Super Flexible Recipes for Making the Most of Leftovers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again …

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The following 6½ recipes can help with this because they are all so very adaptable

1.   Flexible Fritter Recipe

There are several ways to make fritters; larger pieces of leftover food, such as pieces of fish, can be coated in batter or breadcrumbs and fried to crisp. If you have leftover mashed potato plus other leftovers mix them all together and fry.  Here, however, is a useful fritter batter recipe that can take almost any leftover.  These are Cauliflower Cheese Fritters made with leftover cooked cauliflower and, yes!, cheese.

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Sweet fritters work too – how about leftover banana (sliced or diced, of course) with soft light brown sugar and a drip or two of rum?

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2.   Soup from Leftovers

Of course, you could just run your leftovers through the food processor and dilute to soup consistency but there is a much better way! 

My all-purpose soup recipe is so damned useful I’ve even written a book about it (Soup (Almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need), but the basic seriously useful soup recipe is here to get you started.

3.  Omelettes aka Omelets

So useful are omelettes for using up leftovers that a café I used to breakfast at, De Loose Mongoose, often had Trash Omelette blatantly on the menu, filled with whatever they had left over from the night before. See how to make a perfect leftovers omelette here.

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3½.   Frittata

A frittata is a more substantial type of omelette (hence the ½) so, the good news is, you can use up more leftovers! Ham, bacon, chorizo, cheese, seafood, asparagus, mushrooms and lots more are great in frittatas.

If you use half a dozen eggs this should feed 2-3 people.

~   Fry raw onion, if using, gently in oil or butter till soft then add a little garlic, if you wish.
~   If adding leftover potatoes increase the heat and add these now crushing them slightly and cook till they start to crispen and colour. Add a little more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Now add any other cooked ingredients and mix into the potatoes, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding herbs and spices to taste.
~   Turn down the heat, whisk together  six eggs and pour them over everything else.
~   Preheat the grill.
~   Cook the frittata gently for a few minutes till the bottom is set but the top still moist.
~   Sprinkle with grated cheese, if using, and slide under the grill till melted and a little golden.
~   Cut into wedges and serve hot or cold.

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I used to love making risotto when I was a chef – it’s a great excuse to stand still for a few minutes (apart from the arm doing the stirring) and maybe even to partake of a chef’s coffee. I do much the same at home – see here for the basic risotto recipe.  

In case you are wondering, here are details of chef’s coffee and also, fortuitously, how to make a frittata with leftover pasta! 

5.  Bubble & Squeak aka Hash

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Firstly, of course, Bubble and Squeak is a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes whether they be boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, etc. and also works well with sweet potatoes (leftover of course).

Secondly, all sorts of leftovers; vegetables (leftover cabbage is traditional in Bubble & Squeak but is by no means obligatory), fish, meat, poultry, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, chorizo etc. can very happily be incorporated.

Oh, and you could fry it in leftover bacon fat or schmaltz for added deliciousness.

~   Fry some finely chopped onion gently in a little oil, butter or fat for a few minutes till soft. Add some garlic if you like!
~   Increase the heat, add the leftover cooked potatoes crushing them slightly and cook till they just start to crispen and colour. Add more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Stir in other leftover vegetables and continue to fry and turn till all is hot, crispy in parts and delicious.

Serve the hash as it is, quite possibly topped with a fried egg, or form into little cakes or pile onto a pie filling to make a super-duper fish pie, cottage pie or similar.

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6.  Bread Pudding ~ Sweet or Savoury

This is not the manly rib sticking Bread Pudding which is like cake, it is a rich creamy custard based dessert similar to Bread and Butter Pudding but, instead of using slices of buttered bread, I use random bits and pieces of leftover bread – whatever I have.  Stale or slightly oven dried bread is best.

Normally we associate bread (and butter) pudding with sweet ingredients but a Strata is a savoury bread and (no) butter pudding layered up with whatever other ingredients are being used. Leave out the sugar and season the egg mixture with salt and pepper and anything else appropriate according to taste. Mix in cheese and other ingredients before pouring over the custard.

Serves 4
100g-150g stale bread in small chunks
200ml milk
100ml double cream
2 eggs
75g-100g leftovers

For a sweet dish …

80g sugar plus a little for sprinkling
flavourings appropriate to your leftovers eg. vanilla extract, a little brandy, chocolate chips or what have you

For a savoury dish …

salt and pepper
whatever seasonings will complement your leftovers, such as garlic, herbs, spices, grated (possibly leftover) cheese etc. – to taste

~   Put the bread into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.
~   Add your leftovers and toss to mingle well.
~   Whisk together the milk, cream and eggs plus the sugar OR salt and other seasonings you are using.
~   Gently push the bread under the surface to soak it. Set aside for 30 minutes or more – even overnight will do.

To cook …

~   Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C/160˚C Fan/gas 4.
~   Sprinkle the pudding with the extra sugar OR grated cheese as appropriate.
~   Bake for about 40 minutes till risen, golden and slightly wobbly when nudged.

Serve hot, warm or cold but warm is best.

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In my book, Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers, I give numerous ideas for 450 different leftover foods including more ideas and details for the above recipes.

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1 comment:

Elaine Bainbridge said...

Thanks Suzy some great useful tips here, trying to save money by nit wasting any food.