I’m not sure whether it was when I served carrot soup for the second time in three days, or when I pulled my homemade blue cheese dressing out of the fridge and placed it on the dinner table for the fourth day in row, that it occurred to me I’m getting really good at re-purposing leftover food. Before I had children, I would turn my nose up at eating leftovers. It was something “beneath me” and something that would be done only in an extremely rare situation (i.e. if it was pizza). These days, I am the polar opposite. I hate wasting food and I’m always looking for ways to use up every last scrap. However, I am still not interested in eating the same thing day after day, and so I have developed some tricks and tactics to help.
Mark Bittman’s chickpea and carrot soup is one of my favorite pureed soup recipes. It is relatively quick, easy, healthy, and my whole family loves it. On day one, I topped the soup with parsley and yogurt and served it with this (surprisingly delicious) recipe from Food Network Magazine: Strombroli-poly, as it will now be called, has achieved a coveted spot in our dinner rotation. The second time we had the soup, I topped it with yogurt, cilantro and homemade croutons and it tasted entirely different from day one. I served it alongside a green salad, topped with chicken tossed in buffalo sauce with blue cheese dressing. It is amazing how small changes, such as a different herb, different toppings, and a brand new side, can transform a meal.
Homemade blue cheese dressing is a staple in our house. I simply mix together good blue cheese, yogurt, lemon, milk, and salt and pepper and let it sit. To begin with, I was skeptical that the strong blue cheese flavor would complement many meals, but I soon learned that I was wrong. Day one: buffalo chicken salad with bc dressing, and a side of soup (see above). Day two: tofu spinach burgers, topped with bc dressing. I dialed back the Asian flavors in the burger recipe a little so as not to clash with the strong blue cheese. Day three: potato and sweet potato wedges, with a side of dressing to dip into. Day four: blue cheese dressing, placed in a bowl in the middle of our dinner table to accompany whatever meal we were having that night. Because apparently now we can’t eat a meal without it!
With a little bit of imagination and creativity, leftovers can be new again. Simply by adding a new herb, or a different accompaniment, I can still look forward to dinner even when we’ve had it before. And if all else fails, just throw the leftovers in a tortilla and call it good.