I LOVE LEFTOVERS! I know there are people out there that subscribe to the “I don’t eat leftovers” way of thinking, but I am not one of them. I don’t even pretend to understand people who don’t like leftovers! I believe that most foods get better when they have time for the flavors to meld; therefore I think leftovers are often better than the original meal. Combine my love of leftovers with my love of COLD leftovers and my distaste for sweet breakfast, and you’ll often find me eating last night’s food for breakfast – straight from the container.
I also enjoy the challenge of what I call “kitchen sink cooking.” You’ve been there – it’s when you clean out your fridge…you know, the multitude of little containers of items from previous meals or items that didn’t get used…and make a meal from what’s there. Last night was one of my “kitchen sink” nights. The results were soooo good that I couldn’t resist letting you in on my “recipe.”
Here’s what I found in my fridge:
- about a half a container of grape tomatoes
- leftover steak from Monday night
- some arugula from the garden
- leftover green beans with gremolata – also from Monday night
- the ends of some Parmigiano-Reggiano
I thought about what I could do to combine them all into a good dinner. The first thing that came to mind was, “pasta.” Fortunately, I was able to go to the freezer for some home-made pasta – arugula pasta to be exact. Yes!
So here’s what I did:
- For the grape tomatoes: I sliced them in half and put them on a half-sheet pan. I tossed them with a little bit of olive oil (just enough to make them glisten) and some salt and pepper. Then I drizzled about 1 Tbsp of honey over them and put them in an oven preheated to 250 degrees F for about 45 minutes.
- For a “sauce:” In a saucepan, I combined 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of water, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a thick pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I brought the mixture to a boil for just an instant and then let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- For the steak: Jeff cooked it so perfectly on Monday night that I didn’t want to reheat it and turn it into shoe leather, so I simply sliced it and decided I would toss it into the cooked pasta to warm it slightly.
- For the arugula and green beans: I cleaned and julienned the arugula and cut the green beans into 3rds so the pieces were bite-sized. After the tomatoes came out of the oven I put the arugula and beans on top of the tomatoes and put them back in the oven for 5 more minutes – just enough to begin wilting the arugula and heating the beans.
- For the ends of some Parmigiano-Reggiano: I grated as much cheese as I could get from them and set it aside.
- I cooked the pasta in boiling, salted water for approximately 3 minutes.
To assemble the dish I drained the pasta and returned it back to the pot in which I cooked it, I removed the garlic cloves from the oil mixture and poured it over the pasta, I slid all the veggies into the pot, I added the sliced steak and half the cheese and tossed the whole thing together.
I plated the pasta in some deep bowls and topped them with the remaining cheese and served the dish. I can honestly tell you that Jeff is generous with his praise when I cook. He doesn’t hold back when he likes something and almost always says, “thanks for making [dinner].” However, he surprised me last night. He said emphatically, “This is AWESOME.”
Awesome is not a word he typically uses. So you can imagine how it made my heart sing! I don’t think of myself as a particularly old-fashioned gal; but last night reminded me that I clearly buy into the idea that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!!!
I don’t tell you the story of my leftovers to brag, but rather to encourage you to be creative when you are in a “kitchen sink” situation. You don’t just have to heat up little bits of things and serve them next to one another on a plate. Tap into your artistic side, use your imagination, and enhance each ingredient as much as possible. In short, love your leftovers!