What do you do with your leftovers?
When I was a kid, some nights my mother served a dish she called “round potatoes.” They were patties 4-5 inches wide, 3/4 inch thick, fried in a cast iron skillet. My brother and I loved them. It never occurred to us that we were eating leftovers, though now it’s clear these were recycled mashed potatoes.
Ah, leftovers. Culinary alchemy makes gold of them.
Take, for example, the leftover chard that spent the night in its pan. One bunch of green chard, one bunch of red, and a head of romaine, cooked up in the Italian manner of erbe di compagna. Somehow we couldn’t eat it all at dinner last night. When I came down to breakfast this morning, there they were. And I thought, soup.
I have beautiful beans on hand, brand new navy beans from Gratiot County that grew and were harvested last fall. Talk about fresh. And I have an onion. I chopped and sauteed the onion in olive oil, added a cup and half (or so) of beans, raised the heat and let them commingle for a while in the pan. When the skins on the beans began to show some wrinkle, I added water and a little bouillon (broth would have served), brought them to a boil and added the leftover chard. Also, after 30 minutes or so, a half cup of tomato puree.
In the fullness of time (a couple hours) this thick, savory soup was ready to eat.
My father-in-law used to say, Non buttiamo via niente. We don’t throw anything away. Isn’t this a principle of good cooking? What do you do with your leftovers?