Creating beautiful dishes with leftovers is something I love to do. There’s something very satisfying about taking bits and pieces from previous meals and turning them into something new and delicious. Maybe I get it from my mother, who, always trying to substantially feed her family of four, never let anything go to waste.
Sometimes a mish-mash of leftovers can be delicious, but not necessarily nutritious and filling in the long term. What’s often missing is protein. And protein is what you need to keep you satisfied for the long stretch, so you don’t go diving into a bag of nachos like you haven’t eaten in a week.
This recipe is an example of what you can do with a bunch of leftovers that can also be protein-rich, healthy, and filling. If you’re cooking lentils for another dish, make some extra and put it in the freezer so that you have it on hand when needed. Then, when you find yourself with a bunch of leftover odds and ends, bring it all together with some broth, and add those lentils for sustaining protein.
You can substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand, and can add whatever herbs or spices you want to create the kind of flavor profile that you like.
Lentil, Barley, and Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 servings.
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon paprika ½ cup chopped carrot 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 cups vegetable broth
½ pound green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces 2 teaspoons kosher salt freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 packed cups chopped spinach or other greens 2 cups cooked lentils 1 cup cooked barley ¼ chopped parsley
Heat the oil in a 2-quart Dutch oven or saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the paprika. Add the carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in the tomato paste. Work it in until it’s blended with the carrot and garlic. Stir frequently. When the bottom of the pot starts to brown, pour in about ¼ cup of the broth. Stir it in and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.Add the remaining broth, green beans, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until green beans are tender but still firm, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the spinach and stir it in thoroughly. (If you’re using other greens, let them cook a few minutes until tender. Spinach doesn’t need much time at all.) Add the lentils and barley. Continue simmering about 6 to 8 minutes longer to ensure everything is hot and to give the ingredients a chance to blend. Stir in the parsley. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
This is my first post in a while. I took a hiatus for few weeks because I found myself hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in many years.
I used to host Thanksgiving at my house years ago because my family and my then-partner’s family both were very unyielding in allowing us to divide our time. So, our solution was to do Thanksgiving dinner at our house and have both families. We did this for several years, and I don’t think that either family was thrilled about it. The reasons for that are both simple and complex, but what it came down to was that it made the holiday stressful for both of us.
After my partner and I broke up, the Thanksgiving meal shifted to my parents’ house, and it’s been there for the past decade.
But early this year, my father passed away, and my mother, understandably, no longer wanted to do any holidays. It fell on me to do it.
It was a bit more difficult for me to deal with it this time around because a) I’m a decade older than the last time I did it, and b) my job situation is different, and I wasn’t able to take off the same amount of time that I used to years ago.
Having said that, I was able to take off the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, and my current partner flew in to help me. This was tremendously helpful to me, because I truly wouldn’t have been able to get anything done otherwise.
I actually starting prepping my house about a month before. No, really. That’s how long it took me to put things away, organize, and move things around to optimize the space.
The one good thing about all this was that I was so busy prepping, cooking, and serving/cleaning that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to dwell on the fact that it was the first Thanksgiving without my father. I know my mother was depressed, and I felt bad that I couldn’t spend any time comforting her. But I know others did, and I’m glad. It was early on in my preparations, that the emotions hit me, and now, after it’s all over, it’s hitting me again. It’s been strange and surreal not seeing him sitting there at the table with us.
Anyway, my recipe this week is one that comes from the utilitarian in me, and my desire to not waste food and not take for granted the bounty that we’re fortunate to have in this country.
I call this dish Leftover-Thanksgiving-Stuff Chili. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of stuff I had leftover from Thanksgiving dinner, plus a couple of other things. The nice things is, you can make your own leftover chili with whatever you have in the fridge, or you can follow this recipe, because you know what? It came out great. It’s full of flavor, and because some of the individual elements were made as separate recipes with their own ingredients, the flavors of the chili are layered and complex.
I’ve said this before, but it bears saying again—use leftover cranberry sauce in chili. Its sweet and tart taste adds a great dimension to the dish.
(By the way, the reason you see olives in the photos is because the marinated peppers that I used had olives thrown in there. It was part of the antipasto that I served at dinner. When I say I use everything, I mean it!)
A couple of tips: If you have any beer or wine leftover, use that to deglaze the pot after the tomato paste cooks in, or add it later for a more pronounced flavor. Also, although I’ve listed salt as one of the last items, add the salt a little at a time as you add ingredients, starting with the onions. This ensures that you coax out the maximum flavor from each individual ingredient. Chefs do this regularly, but you will rarely see it written in a recipe because it makes the recipe cumbersome to instruct adding a quantity of salt at each step. But you should do it. 🙂
So, here’s my utilitarian chili. Enjoy!
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup chopped yellow onion 1/3 cup chopped red onion 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced 1½ cups chopped green bell pepper 1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chili powder 2 cups broth (you can make part of this beer or wine) 1½ cups chopped tomatoes 2 celery ribs, chopped 1 cup cranberry sauce ½ cup chopped roasted peppers (optional)
3 cups cooked beans (pinto, Roman, Navy, any kind you like)
3 teaspoons kosher salt ½ cup chopped parsley Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium-large sauce pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium-high heat until they’re soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the green pepper and sauté until it softens, about 3 or 4 minutes.Add the tomato paste and stir it in well. Mix in the chili powder. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pot with broth (and or beer/wine). Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to get up any browned bits. Bring it to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients, except the parsley. Mix well. Bring it back to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in the parsley and serve.
Well, now that another Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of us are left with the serious question of what to do with all those leftovers, especially the stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you are). Personally, I just eat it the way it is for days. But others want to use their leftovers in different and creative ways. So, here are some ideas for using up all that delicious stuffing in your fridge.
These ideas will work with any kind of bread or cornbread stuffing. Other kinds of stuffing (such as those based on rice or other grains) may or may not work, depending on the recipe and what you add to it.
I’d love to hear from you and find out what you made with your leftovers this year.
15 Things to Do With Leftover Stuffing
Stuffed Peppers (Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and membranes, and press the stuffing into the cavities. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until peppers have softened.)
Frittata (Beat 6 eggs and stir in about a cup of stuffing. Cook in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until underside has browned. Flip over or place in a 350 degree oven until other side has browned.)
Turkey casserole (Replace the rice or bread in your favorite turkey casserole recipe with stuffing.)
Dumplings for soup, stew, or chili (Mix 1 beaten egg into 4 cups stuffing and roll into balls. If too loose, add breadcrumbs. Drop into soup, stew, or chili and let cook.)
Vegetable pie (Using the stuffing as the bottom layer where mashed potatoes would be used.)
Stuffing cakes (Flatten stuffing into a patties and pan fry; serve with leftover cranberry sauce or gravy.)
Turkey sandwich with stuffing (Self-explanatory.)
Stuffed artichokes (Trim artichokes. Press stuffing between the leaves. Place in a baking pan with a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees until tender.)
Stuffed chicken breasts. (Flatten chicken breasts with a mallet. Place a tablespoon or two of stuffing and roll up the chicken. Pan fry or bake until cooked through.)
Vegetable calzone (Make your favorite calzone recipe and just mix some stuffing into the vegetables.)
Vegetarian meatballs (Add 1 beaten egg to 4 cups stuffing. Add grated tempeh or crumbled tofu and, if you like, some grated cheese. Pan fry or bake at 350 degrees until browned.)
Rice balls (Add stuffing to any kind of rice–this is a good way to also use leftover rice–and roll into balls. Dip in beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs. Pan fry or baked at 350 degrees until lightly browned and heated through.)
Vegetable sauté (Make your favorite vegetable saute recipe and mix in some stuffing. Keep cooking until well blended and heated through.)
Meatloaf or Veggie Meatloaf (Replace the breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe with stuffing. If the stuffing is moist, reduce the amount of any liquid you use.)
Veggie burgers (Mix stuffing into your prepared vegetables. Form patties and cook as you normally would.)