Leftovers are every kitchen’s Achilles heel. No matter how hard you try to finish the food off, some of it always makes it past the dinner table into the fridge, and from there into the dustbin. Sadly, few realise the exciting possibilities and potential that food has to offer because it is already cooked, and packed with a depth of flavour which would take hours to build up in fresh food, if you were to attempt it all over again.
So if you are running on a low budget, don’t throw those leftovers out. In fact, here are some ideas for whole new dishes to be made from them:
Chicken cooked in a thick gravy has lots of flavours and a delicious blend of spices, with the pieces soft and being easily pulled apart. As opposed to a bland grilled chicken sandwich, you don’t need to add much to the pre-cooked chicken pieces to impart flavour. Just shred them with your fingers, and use a high quality multi-grain or oatmeal based bread to stuff them in. You don’t even need additional butter because the chicken already has oil in it.
Leftover meat like beef or chicken, or thick vegetable pieces from a gravy made on the previous night, work fabulously well as pizza toppings. Thick and flavourful potato, paneer or cauliflower pieces make for unique toppings. However, choose wisely and opt for a wheat base with, preferably a thin crust to keep the pizza delicious, yet easy on the stomach. Use little cheese as a thin crust does not require as much of it as a regular pizza.
A burrito is essentially a tortilla wrapped with filling and grilled lightly sans butter or oil. It is of course a healthier meal on a night out than, say, a Chicago pizza pie with lots of cheese and a thick, refined flour crust. But you can make it just as well at home using your leftovers. The thing about fish is that it will stink if you heat it up in a microwave. So for a fish burrito, let the leftover fish heat up gently in a pan on medium heat. Then slice up some greens and veggies like onions and cabbage, and add some leftover rice and beans to the mix. Wrap it all up in a tortilla, slightly heat it on the grill, and enjoy.
Fried rice need not always be made with loads of oil or fat. In fact, since it’s not a Biryani or Pulao, you need to add only a little bit of oil at the initial stage, to fry off the garlic, onions and chillies used to impart flavour. Using brown rice and a non-stick pan will reduce the need for oil further. This is a dish that can be made with two common leftovers—a mixed vegetable and rice. No matter how the item was cooked earlier, it will taste completely different with the rice and some coriander, or cabbage and lettuce thrown in for the extra measure.
There is no need to fear leftovers when they provide so many wonderful options. In fact, they are infinitely simpler to use than fresh food sometimes. All you need to do is get creative and ditch the guilt of tossing them out. When you have so many exciting options to choose from, the thought of throwing them out should not even occur to you. So go ahead and reuse those leftovers for a healthy, delicious meal well under the budget.
Author : Deepannita Misra