I hate wasting food and there are a few things I love to make when I have odds and ends lying around my fridge. This always seems to be on a Monday too. These could be left overs, or just small bits of food in too small a quantity to be made into something on their own, but combined with other things can be whipped into quick and easy meals.

Here they are

1. QUESADILLA

I always keep flour tortillas in my cupboard, and if I’ve opened the pack I simply store them in the freezer. I then whip them out any time I feel like a slightly decadent snacky meal. These are perfect for a night in front of the TV and taste just as good as any take-out pizza (well almost).

They are a fabulous way to use up cheese, bacon,  left-over chicken or any meat.

Here I made one using some left over ginger beer pulled pork. The recipe for this is in my cookbook.

To make quesadilla, simply spread whatever filling of your choice over the surface area of a flour tortilla. I always put the cheese at the bottom, allowing about a centimeter of space from the edge. The cheese will melt and spread so you don’t want it to spill out. Cheddar or Mozzarella work really well.

If I am making a Mexican flavoured one, which is often the case, I like to make a salsa with red onions and chopped fresh tomatoes  I use fresh cilantro and chopped up pickled jalapeno’s. Use up left over roasted vegetables or roast chicken, or whatever you have lying around.

Place another tortilla on the top of the filling and dry fry the quesadilla in a non-stick frying pan turning once until the tortilla starts turning a golden brown colour, the cheese has melted and its crispy. Place on a board and cut into quarters using a pizza cutter.

2. FRITTATA

Frittata is one of the things I cook almost every week and its such a versatile dish. Eggs are inexpensive and a good protein and when combined with meat, cheese and fresh herbs, becomes a fabulous light supper.

Cheese goes so well with eggs and I often use a combination  of two or three cheeses. I like Chevin, Parmesan, Cheddar, Feta, or Gruyere. I love adding fresh vegetables, meats like ham, salami, bacon, chorico and left over sausages. I always add a tablespoon or two of chopped herbs to freshen it up. Salt, Pepper, chilli, smoked paprika and cayenne work really well as seasoning.

Frittata are great for breakfasts and brunch too.

This was a recipe I developed in 2011 and was originally planned for my book. I decided in the end to go for the butternut and feta frittata instead, so I have always had this recipe on hand. Quite strange as on Monday I posted a recipe with the exact same ingredients just using mint. What is also strange is that the recipes (apart from the mint) are almost identical and written over  a year apart. I have suggested using a handful of other herbs here.

 Fritatta with asparagus, zucchini & Parmesan | serves 4

  • 150gms fresh green asparagus cut into smallish pieces
  • about 5 zucchini / courgette (200gms) – thinly sliced on the bias
  • 6 eggs
  • handful of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • knob of butter or a splash of olive oil x 2
  • salt and Pepper

Turn the grill element on the oven on. Heat a non stick frying pan and lightly sauté the asparagus and zucchini until cooked and then set aside. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy and add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Melt a knob of butter in the same non stick frying pan and add the eggs. Wait a few seconds for the eggs to just start setting on the bottom of the pan and then scatter over the vegetables. Sprinkle over the cheese and place under the hot grill and cook until the surface is golden brown and puffed up.

Remove and slice up into wedges and serve with toast or a green salad.

Another recipe for frittata with asparagus, zucchini and mint.

3. SANDWICHES / PIZZA / PITA / WRAP

Sandwiches, well this is pretty obvious. I like to make open toasted sandwiches and just pile things on top. Bolognese or left over cooked chicken is lovely and then top that all off with a pile of salad.

Pizzas I like to top ready made bases (I find the Woolworths bases the best) with whatever leftover meat I have around. Anything from bolognese, to chicken, to sausages, bacon or even roast lamb. I also love to make pizza using tortilla bases and here are recipes with blue cheese, pear, coppa and rocket , pizza bianco and with rosa tomatoes and red onions.

I love to stuff various leftovers into a pita and then add other things to make a fabulous snack. I also enjoy whole-wheat pitas because they are healthier, have a lower GI and quite frankly have more flavour.

The kinds of things I fill a pita or enclose in a wrap are:

Peri peri chicken strips which I flash fry like I did with my easy chicken breasts, or for a vegetarian options stuff with pesto mushrooms and lettuce. Lots of salads and any left over meat, a spread of mayonnaise or a dollop of salsa.

4. Stir Fry

I love to stir fry all the left over veggies I have in the bottom of my fridge, and I often have a lot of odds and end. I tend to go with Asian flavours for this and toss through noodles.

Recipe for these Singapore vegetable noodles can be found here.

5. Soup

Soup is generally something I make in winter to use up all my bits and pieces, but I have started to enjoy a broth like soup in Summer too. I love miso soup and make my own dashi now, so with January here and a few goals needing to be reached, these sorts of soups are perfect.

Remember that cabbage soup diet that passed around many years ago? The one that is virtually free in point on Weight Watchers and probably uses up more calories to eat than in the soup, well I revisited this recently on a quest to use up a vast amount of cabbage and veggies I had left over from a shoot and found it very tasty and filling. I made a massive pot and then froze off batches in old yoghurt containers for all the days when I want to be angelic in my eating, but needing to fill a few gaps. Trust me on this, its way more delicious than you might think

This is just a rough guideline of what to use: ( I cut the veggies quite small because I didn’t want it too chunky)

  • onions chopped – about 2
  • 2 T olive oil
  • red peppers – 1 chopped
  • 4- 6 sticks of celery chopped
  • 8 carrots grated (easier to grate in a food processor)
  • 1 cabbage finely sliced
  • a generous handful of fresh parsley – chopped
  • 3 tins of tomatoes
  • enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover this generously
  • 3 cloves of garlic optional
  • salt and pepper

In a very large pot heat the olive oil and fry the onions, celery, carrots and pepper until they they soften. Add the cabbage , tomatoes, garlic and stock and bring this to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook for about 45 mins – an hour over a low simmer.

You could process this soup to get a thicker consistency, but like I said, I like the brothi-ness of it for summer.

Whats your favourite way to use up left-overs?

 

16 Comments

  1. Good post – I always have left overs at the back of the fridge that need to be used up!

  2. Now this is my kinda story! How to Love your Leftovers 🙂
    Interested in trying the cabbage soup for sure!

  3. Sam

    Thanks Jodi. I actually had a bowl of the soup now and feeling rather good about myself for it.

  4. Yes to all of those ways to use leftovers. I often use tortillas as pizza bases too or make a stack of them with different layers of vegetables and meats in between and then cut through them like a layered cake. Our imagination is the only limit to how we clear out the fridge.

  5. Sam

    Hi Suzanne, I agree, I have my most creative moments when confronted with odd ingredients and need to make a meal. This happens at least once a week.

  6. It’s rare that food goes to waste in my kitchen. My usual throw things together wind up in a pasta dish or, like you, a frittata. Gorgeous photos btw.

  7. Great post. I love making minestrone with whatever leftover veg are in the fridge and stir fries are also a big fave over here.

  8. Sam

    Thanks Marisa, I’ve been dying to make Minestrone again (properly) – going to do it this winter for sure.
    S x

  9. Sam

    Hi Joan, indeed, I wanted to include a pasta too, another top way to use up bits and pieces.

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  12. Wow, Sam, what a wonderful post!! I also hate wasting food and these are great ideas!

  13. Good read. We can’t avoid having leftovers especially after big occasions. A bit of creativity might turn those into a whole new meal. Thanks for the post.

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