Strategy for leftovers – part 1

My favourite sort of cooking is cooking with leftovers. It’s like the classic cook’s strategy of going to the market and being inspired by what you find rather than by a pre-decided recipe. But instead of going to the market you just go as far as your fridge and see what’s there and then start thinking laterally.

We’ve just had a fantastic half term week with our house full to bursting (in fact overflowing to Sarah’s Dad’s house next door) with guests and we were all sharing the cooking. A different person cooked dinner each night and, because cooks are naturally generous creatures, there were always plenty of delicious leftovers for lunch the following day. So here are three examples of delicious leftover strategies from this week:

Cheddar/tomato/potato bake

We had a massive amount of mash left over from the night before. So, I put half of it in the bottom of baking dish, sliced tomatoes over and grated some cheddar over that. I then put the other half of the mash on top, added more sliced tomatoes and more cheddar. I then baked it for about 45 minutes at 150C and then a further 10 minutes at about 200C just to brown the top. We ate it with a bit jus left over from some slow-cooked lamb from a couple of nights previously. A crowd pleaser for both children and adults.

Pork and lentil soup

Cold pork chops and some pork and cider gravy were the starting point here.

I boiled about 200g each of red lentil and puy lentils in the leftover gravy to which I added some water, a tub of passata (pureed, sieved tomatoes) a bit of leftover wine and half a bottle of cider. In a separate pan I sweated finely diced onion, carrot and celery and plenty of crushed garliic and a desertspoon of finely chopped rosemary. Once the lentil mix was cooked I added it together with all the cooking liquor to the softened vegetables. I then added the very finely diced meat of the pork chops to the soup and checked the seasoning. It was delicious and made enough for about 15 decent helpings.

Spaghetti bake

For ouf final evening all together Beth had made us a delicious Spaghetti Putanesca. There was a tiny bit of sauce left over but absolutely masses of cooked spaghetti. The spaghetti had somewhat clagged together in the fridge overnight but having practised a bit on my daughter Holly’s long hair, I am developing some fine de-clagging skills. 

So for lunch the following day I made spaghetti bake. I frieda chopped bulb of fennel with a couple of sliced red peppers. I then added the half cup that remained of the putanesca sauce and some chopped fresh tomatoes that had seen better days. I then grated a generous pile of parmesan and cheddar, and put together the bake in a great big lasagne dish: a bit of sauce on the bottom, then spaghetti then more sauce, then mixed cheeses and then a repeat of these layers. Because it was a large deep dish the baking times were similar to those for the potato bake above i.e. about an hour in total with the last 15 minutes in a hot oven. I think it must have been quite good because there was none left for me to eat when I came back late for lunch….