March 20, 2013 by E.
The name of the game today, folks, is how to use up leftovers.
About once a week, I have a date with my refrigerator. I skim drawers and shelves, move items around, sniff all the produce, and check tupperware containers. Not the most exhilarating or glamorous activity I get to do all day, but it helps keep our fridge (relatively) neat and organized, reminds me what vegetables I have, and (usually) keeps us from wasting food. Obviously, we’re not perfect (I just had to throw out a tupperware container of moldy black beans, oops please don’t judge), but overall, I believe we’re doing better at controlling food waste than the average American household (which isn’t saying much, but still). This is for ideological reasons in part, but since A. and I are both realists, we hate tossing out uneaten food for a primarily pragmatic rationale: wasted food = wasted money.
If necessary, A. could eat the same meal for lunch and dinner for 5 days a week. He has absolutely no problem with cooking a huge batch of pasta on Monday night and eating it over the next five days.
Me? I’d be sick to death of that meal and probably never want to see any of those ingredients ever again in my life.
Enter the skill of repurposing leftovers. It’s taken me some time, but I do believe I’m getting better at it.
Here’s what was in my fridge today, and how I combined these separate ingredients into one dish.
You may remember this soup from last week, when I indulged in comfort food to combat my minor cold. It just doesn’t get better than my grandmother’s tomato soup, made with tomatoes and basil from her garden and seasoned with just a little salt. She cans the soup herself during the summer, and whenever I visit her, I always get to take a few cans back home with me.
This eggplant is leftover from our Sunday dinner. I peeled the eggplant, cut it into thick rounds, dipped the slices in egg and then in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and parsley (I was trying to use that up before it went bad), baked the breaded slices at 400 for 10 minutes per side, then broiled each side for 2 minutes until the breadcrumbs were nice and toasty. Even though they were quite tasty, it’s hard for only 2 people to eat an entire eggplant in one sitting.
This cilantro was also left over from our Sunday night dinner. I bought the cilantro to layer on our fish while it was baking, and even though I used quite a bit on the fish, we still had a few springs in our refrigerator, slowly losing their vibrant green color.
So, I took these ingredients and combined them to make an entirely different meal: quinoa with eggplant and edamame.
The tomato soup I used as a cooking liquid for the quinoa – 1 cup tomato soup and 1/2 cup dried quinoa, cooked according to package directions. This method likely wouldn’t work for thicker soups, but since my grandmother’s tomato soup is quite broth-like, it worked out perfectly. The quinoa picked up excellent flavor and color from the soup.
The eggplant slices were cut into cubes, lightly sauteed in a pan with some olive oil, and then mixed in with the cooked quinoa.
The edamame wasn’t leftover from anything, it was just pulled out of my freezer. I buy bags of frozen, shelled edamame from Trader Joe’s, and love them for their convenience and high protein content.
I garnished the dish with a scoop of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt and the cilantro. Pretty yummy!