How to Make Leftovers Exciting


Let’s get this out in the open straight-off: leftovers can be a pain. It’s incredibly easy to let food go bad in the fridge, and while annoying, it seems simpler to push leftovers to dark recesses of the refrigerator than to take them out and reheat them.

You’ve probably seen shocking statistics about the amount of food that Americans throw away because it ‘goes bad.’ And while those statistics may deal with unused food items (moldy sour cream, wilted lettuce, etc.), I’m willing to bet that leftovers rate high on many families’ direct-to-the-trashcan radar.

With this in mind, I find that the key to making leftovers excitingly eatable lies in three parts.

Part I: Making food that you like enough to want to eat again once reheated.
Part II: The presentation of leftovers on the plate.
Part III: A peppy new side-dish that enlivens the at-times drab leftovers.

In this case, the peppy new side-dish was a healthy serving of Dill and Scallion Fiddleheads. To make, simply follow the fiddlehead recipe here, but also sauté scallions, and add in some fresh dill when cooking is nearly complete.

Part I: Making food that you like enough to want to eat again once reheated. This wasn’t a problem for me last week, as our meals were diverse and delicious. Using the above photo as a guide to the week’s meals – at top, Salmon Burger topped with mustard; at left and bottom, Quinoa, Pork and Mint Meatballs (adapted from here), and in the center, Pasta with Cauliflower, Bacon and Sage.

I think this proves the point I made a week or two ago about cooking many meals in a row out of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine.

Part II: The presentation of leftovers on the plate. See that little curlicue of mustard on the salmon burger? My boyfriend did that. And, surprisingly, that made all the difference on this plate. It made leftover food look new and enticing.

Between the curlicue and the alignment of other food on the plate, I couldn’t wait to dig into this meal of meals.

Part III: A peppy new side-dish that enlivens the at-times drab leftovers. Now that spring is here, it’s easier than easy to put together a quick, fresh side dish. We went wild picking fiddleheads this past weekend, so it’s going to be a quick, fresh side of fiddleheads on our plates for weeks to come.

But anything new – be a spinach salad or a carrot slaw – will help enliven a familiar meal.

Good luck using up those leftovers! I’ve challenged myself in recent months to avoid letting food go bad in the fridge. And aside from the occasional wilted herb or off-smelling carton of heavy cream, I’ve been pretty successful. Planning the week’s meals ahead of time, combined with a willingness to to eat – nay, enjoy – leftovers, helps to minimize food waste.

 

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