When I was growing up my dad, who had a penchant for telling Catskill’s jokes used to repeat a joke I believe was attributed to Sam Levinson, the joke went something like this, ‘My whole life all my mother served was leftovers, but no one ever found the original meal’. Last Friday I was watching The Chew on ABC, and the whole episode was about using leftovers, including what could go in a blender. They quoted some statistic which I can’t recall, but essentially claimed the majority of leftover food gets thrown away either right away, or within two days. Wow, I am not at all religious, but tossing leftovers is a sin, or as my grandmother would have said a shonda(shame), and apparently this is a big problem!
I love leftovers, and not just cold pizza. The key to leftover love—I think, is re-purposing them. Leftover vegetables can be great in a salad, or an omelet. In the cooler months anything left behind can be the start of a soup or even a pie— pot or shepherd’s. And a meatloaf sandwich has to be one of the best sandwiches ever! Leftover meat is great tossed with pasta and some sautéed mushrooms and spinach.
I often make enough food to have leftovers for another meal or two. Of course if you’re using leftovers food safety has to be something to keep in mind. Don’t let food sit out for too long, get it into the fridge as soon as possible. You should only reheat something once, so if you’re making a new dish with your leftovers and don’t consume it all, throw it away. When you reheat food it’s really important to bring it up to a temperature of at least 165f. An instant-read thermometer is not expensive, and is a great tool to have on hand. The one thing that can’t really stand up to sitting around until tomorrow is a dressed green salad. The vinegar and salt will break down the delicate cells of the greens and they become watery and unpleasantly limp. Other than that good leftovers will happily wait two or three days for you to get back to them and put them back to work for you, after that please be cautious about using them.
Right now I have an odd assortment of leftovers in my fridge. I will have some for dinner tonight, and I hope the rest will last a few more days. Freezing is another way to deal with the monotony of eating a repeat meal, and in a few weeks when you get home from vacation, and there doesn’t seem to be any food in the house, you will remember that food in the freezer, and you can thank me then! Are you a leftover lover or leaver? When you eat at a restaurant do you ask for a doggie bag? There is a restaurant in Philly where my daughter and I can go, split an entree and still have enough left for another meal, now that’s a deal! Please let me know what your favorite leftovers are, and what you use them for! I was thinking of making a tee that says LEFTOVERS RULE, but I don’t know if people would get that I was talking about food…