As Asians, it’s safe to say that big family dinners are an occurrence that’s all too familiar. And what happens during these dinners is always a huge mountain of leftovers that usually get distributed amongst family members. What are some of your favourite leftover dishes? How creative can you get with just a carrot or stale bread or even that two-day old pizza stuck at the back of the fridge? We give you some innovative ideas for how to maximise items in your food that you might be tempted to throw out.
Most reasons why we aren’t huge fans of eating stale bread is because it’s gone hard and crumbly. But did you know, that their rough texture is great for making breadcrumbs? Simply whizz up leftover herbs and stale bread in your food processor to make herby breadcrumbs, then freeze. Use from frozen for a great coating for fried or baked fish, or add cheese and make a topping for baked mushrooms. Alternatively, you can also make a decent batch of croutons that you can add to soups and salads. Cut the leftover slices of bread into cubes and add your choice of herbs to make your next appetizer a great meal!
Keep vegetable scraps to make stock, along with any vegetables that may look like they’re about to reach their prime. Keep a large zip-top bag in the freezer and add trimmings: carrot and fennel tops, ends of onions or leeks, tomato cores, stems of herbs and greens, corn cobs, and anything else you feel you could throw in a pot. When the bag is full, defrost the contents, dump into a pot and add water to cover. Simmer for 2 hours, strain — and you’ll have better-than-store-bought veggie stock! You can also make this super easy breakfast with soon-to-be-stale carrots. Grate a large carrot into a bowl, add 50g rolled oats, 4 tablespoons of apple juice or milk, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of chopped apricots or raisins. Mix all the ingredients well, then chill overnight. Before chowing down on this hearty breakfast, mix in 50g natural yogurt and top it off with chopped walnuts.
You know when you attend a barbecue and you were overzealous with the number of portions? Well you don’t have to put up with eating plain steak for leftovers any longer, because you cut the steak into small pieces, add a few cans of kidney beans, several big dashes of chili powder, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of tomato juice. Simmer all the ingredients in a large pot for an hour or two and you have an excellent hearty chilli! It can be eaten with a warm French loaf or a bag of tortilla chips. As an alternative idea, you can cube the meat, add a can of tomato sauce, some oregano and basil, and let it simmer. Boil some pasta and you have a very easy pasta meal. And what happens if the meat is already cooked as a stew or soup? Simply drain off most of the liquid and blend the ingredients in a food processor to make as a protein accompaniment to an egg scramble. This method is also very useful with making the best of leftover chilli.
This leftover food hack will prove to be mega useful for us Asians who are bound to have cooked way too much rice one too many times. Of course, we can simply re-heat the rice and have it with other freshly cooked dishes or make fried rice out of it, but let’s try to get fancy with it! Mix your leftover rice with pancake batter, which will not only expand the volume of the pancake batter, but it’ll also create a distinctive flavour for the pancakes. With rice in the pancakes, use jelly instead of regular pancake syrup to give your stack a lot more flavour. As for potatoes, you can create a classic Swedish pyttipanna (very similar to a hash), and literally translated to mean “small pieces in a pan”. Cut the leftover cooked potatoes into small cubes, and whatever meats you desire (yes, including leftover meats in this case). In a pan, cook meat and chopped onions till golden brown, followed by the potatoes. Mix everything well and add salt and pepper to taste. Ideally, you can enjoy this traditional Scandinavian dish with fried egg.
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.