Left Over Vegetables & Herbs

So many things you can do with left over vegetables, and I’m starting with potatoes - keep scanning down for the other vegetables, herbs and vegetable dishes! Start thinking of your leftovers as the most expensive food items in your house – you’ve invested your hard earned money into that food and your valuable time. You’ve planned, shopped, transported, stored and prepared them – don’t waste them!

Potato Skins from Left Over Baked Potatoes

Potato Skins from Left Over Baked Potatoes

Left overs can easily be the building blocks for another dish later in the week. Think, as you put away your food after dinner, for ways to use your leftover vegetables as a convenience item for another dish later in the week.

As a matter of fact, why not cook extra vegetables and use them in dishes later in the week for planned left overs? I’ve recently started tagging my posts that can be used to make planned left overs or that can make use  of left overs, so it will be easier to find them.

Vegetables, General:

  • Think about using the appropriate left over vegetables for any recipe that already calls for cooked vegetables or requires you to cook vegetables for the recipe! A few that come to mind: Quiche, Frittata, Scrambled Eggs, Omelets, Pot Pie, Chicken a la King, Fried Rice, a simple Souffle.
  • Don’t forget adding them to soups and casseroles, either.
  • Transform your vegetables: Add a white or cream sauce, heat through in a saucepan or bake until bubbly. Add a cheese sauce.
  • Use them in your next morning’s Green Smoothie.
  • Some vegetables make a marvelous flavored water…others? Maybe not so much. Cucumber is delicious.

Potatoes:

Au Gratin – Thin with milk to make instant cheese soup.

Baked:

  • Cut in half, scoop out the flesh, salt and pepper and fry or bake till crusty and golden for the best hashed browns ever. Try adding a touch of cream cheese to this at the end. Don’t forget chives or green onion.
  • For the skins, fry or brush with oil and bake till crispy. Add cheese and cooked bacon bits and melt in the oven for a few minutes for your own potato skins.
  • Add left over baked potatoes to a soup or potpie if appropriate.
  • Make a quick leftover baked potato soup for one or two by melting a tablespoon of butter, adding a tablespoon of flour, cook a minute or two, add 1 1/2 cups of milk and your leftover potato pieces. Add cheese if you like.
  • Cut potatoes into quarters, dip in melted butter, roll in Parmesan cheese and bake at 400 degrees, turning once, till crunchy and brown.
  • Make twiced baked potatoes – remove the potato from the skin, mix with butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and/or cheese. Pile it all back in and bake until warmed through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
  • Heat and mash – or take that further and make into Mashed Potato Cakes.
  • Peel and shred for Hash Brown Cups. Get an idea of how to do this by looking at Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups.

Hash Browns -

  • Leftover hash browns can be added into a burrito with any leftover sausage or bacon and a little cheese for a quick breakfast the next day.
  • Add them to a soup.
  • Put them in Quiche or a Fritatta.
  • Make tater tot type casserole, but use the hash browns instead of tater tots.
  • Serve the next day for breakfast – Spray or butter a muffin pan, press the hash browns in the bottom to form a crust. Bake till crispy, add an egg and cook through to the point you like them. This works best with shredded has browns, and is quite a lot like my Corned Beef Hash Cups.
  • You can mix leftover hash browns with a little cream or milk and cheese, bake until bubbly and golden brown.

Mashed Potatoes:

  • Larger quantity – Make a shepherd’s pie with the rest of the leftovers from the meal.
  • Make pierogi or gnocchi.
  • Make potato cakes or potato croquettes.
  • Small quantity – add to soups, especially any creamy soup. Works particularly well in bean soups to thicken – like my Navy Bean with Bacon Soup.
  • Make potato muffins – press into greased mini muffin tins, top with cheese and reheat till golden brown.
  • Reheat mashed potatoes with cheese and a few slices of green onions.
  • Take potatoes and roll around a ball of cheese, flour and deep fry.
  • Make Bubble & Squeak – fry everything in a saucepan, add mashed potatoes and mix together, may add grated cheese, form into cakes, dusted with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.

Crudite Platters: 

  • Cook the appropriate vegetables, or add to soups & stews. No need to waste any left overs. While in general it is wise to follow a two hour window with foods, generally vegetables, which are cooked and/or simmered before serving would be one of the safer things to use.

Vegetables - General:  

  • May be added to many soups or casseroles.
  • Reheat with a little butter and water and try adding a herb or two for another flavor.
  • You can certainly cream or scallop a larger quantity by placing in a small casserole and covering with a white sauce and baking till golden brown on the top. Try adding cheese to the white sauce for a quick cheese sauce.
  • Try in an omelet, Frittata or Quiche.
  • Add bits of vegetables to stuffed zucchini or peppers.
  • Make Bubble & Squeak – fry everything in a saucepan, add mashed potatoes and mix together, may add grated cheese, form into cakes, dusted with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.
  • Make vegetable hash is done in much the same way, cut up vegetables into chunks, fry till golden brown.
  • Almost any vegetable can make a croquette or a small souffle with the addition of a white sauce..,
  • Save the water you cook vegetables in and use it in your soups, sauces and gravies or smoothies. Canned vegetable liquid can sometimes be used in white sauces in place of part of the liquid.
  • Save in the freezer till you get a quantity for soup – for the best soup, save ways that make sense, like left over asparagus in one container for asparagus cream soup. Beans, corn, carrots, etc. in a zip bag for vegetable soup.  Maybe broccoli and cauliflower together. No one wants an asparagus, corn and beet soup, for instance.

Vegetables – Specific:

  • Beans - Make three bean salad – freshly made is wonderful.
  • Beets - Any beets may be served with a salad, or pickled.  My family always saved the juice from beet pickles, and just dropped any leftover beets right into the jar. Give them a day or two to pick up the flavor.
  • Broccoli – Broccoli makes great croquettes, with or without cheese.  Can be added to many casseroles, especially ones with a cream sauce and chicken or ham.  Save in a zip bag in the freezer for cream soup.
  • Brussels Sprouts – make great croquettes.
  • Cauliflower - May be pickled much as Cucumbers.  Save in a zip bag in the freezer for cream soup.
  • Corn - Corn or creamed corn can be added to corn bread or johnny cakes.
  • Cucumbers - Make a quick refrigerator pickle -  boil 1 cup of vinegar with 1 to 2 cups of sugar and pour over cucumbers, let sit at least 2  hours – these will keep for weeks in the fridge.  You can also mix cucumber with a little sour cream, splash of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar for a refreshing side dish.
  • Greens - Can be added to many soups, also can be “creamed” with a bit of white sauce, topped with buttered crumbs and baked as a side dish.  Can be added under a layer of food, such as chicken Parmesan, eggs Florentine.  Mix with sour cream and cream cheese for a quick dip.
  • Onions - A large quantity can make onion soup.  If I only need a portion for a recipe, I’ll saute the whole onion and freeze the part I don’t need, ready to go for another meal.  Creamed onions are wonderful.
  • Peas - Go very well in any cream sauce.  Think Chicken a la King, Creamed Chicken, Pot Pie.
  • Peppers - almost any leftover pepper, green or red, hot or mild can be made into a small jam or jelly – it doesn’t take much to make a cup.  You can also finely dice and heat with honey and drizzle on any type of cornbread when it’s hot out of the oven.  You can char, peel and freeze.
  • Potatoes – have their own section, scroll up.
  • Pumpkins – Don’t forget to toast the seeds – make up your own flavor combinations, brine or go au natural.  Leftover pumpkin flesh can be pureed, cubed and tossed with dressings (balsamic is particularly good) and/or combined with other combinations of flavors – pumpkin and cranberry is nice in a salad.
  • Root Vegetables - Mash root vegetables and serve as an option with the next meal.  Freeze and add to chowders.  They can be marvelous mashed and added to a Souffle. Sweet potatoes/yams can be made into a cake:  Here’s a Chocolate Yam Marble Cake from Melissa d’Arabian.
  • Spinach - Spinach works well into a cream cheese and sour cream dip.  Don’t wait for an occasion, just mix some up and serve with vegetable sticks.  See also ‘greens’.  Use for a ravioli filling using leftover won ton wrappers.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Leftover baked can be peeled and fried for breakfast and served like hash browns.  Mash and serve again, flavor like you would sweet potato casserole (or not) , or add to a pancake or waffle batter.  Make twice baked sweet potatoes, and add a little bacon for garnish.  Cut into sticks and fry for french fries.  Leftover sweet potato casserole can be added to
  • Tomatoes Canned or Sauce:  If you only use a partial can, get in habit of immediately pouring into a Ziploc and labeling with type, amount and date.  Freeze till next time you need to make something with tomatoes.  Thaw in a bowl in the microwave or add frozen to soups.  I often buy the larger cans to save money and freeze the rest.  If you drain whole or diced tomatoes, save the juice from the can and doctor for a virgin or bloody mary, or add to soups, sauces pastas, pot roast or meatloaf.  It might separate a bit in the fridge but can be kept for a week, and frozen indefinitely.
  • Tomatoes – Sun dried - Add to pasta salad or almost any chicken dish using cream.  Add to chicken salad.  Use the oil it’s packed in to dip garlic bread or saute your aromatics for an Italian sauce.
  • Tomato Paste:  Need one tablespoon and had to open the whole can?  Freeze in a small baggie.  Break off needed quantity when you are ready to use.

Vegetable Parings -

    • Keep in a bag in the fridge any carrot tops, celery pieces, onion skins and other bits of vegetables (use your judgment as to how well something will keep or how it will taste) add to your stock or broth when making. Alternatively, put in a container in the freezer.
    • Save all kinds of vegetable pieces and parts and use in your morning smoothies.
    • Potato peelings – yeah, not so great, although I’ve heard of people frying them up and serving as a snack.

Herbs -

  • Almost any fresh herb can be dried in small quantities. Don’t let them wilt and throw them away!  Just spread them on a plate, let air dry and put in Ziploc or jars.  Label.
  • Try using minced herbs in a crumb topping for casseroles.
  • Herbs can be frozen with water in an ice-cube tray and added to soups or stocks.

Sauerkraut -

  • Use as a hot dog relish.
  • In Reuben sandwiches.
  • Serve with sausages or pork in a braise.
  • Add to Runza filling.

Spaghetti Sauce:

  • Put a little over chicken breasts and bake for Chicken Parmigiano.
  • Spread a bun or English muffin, add cheese and broil for a quick kid friendly snack.
  • If it has meatballs or sausage, place all on a good sliced roll, cover with mozzarella and broil. Fried peppers and onions are good on this.
  • A tablespoon or two can round out the flavor of a vegetable beef soup.
  • Larger quantities can be used in many pasta bakes and lasagna.
  • Spaghetti Pie – toss spaghetti noodles in leftover sauce, top with cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan or all of the above and bake till heated through and cheese is melted.
  • Try as a pizza sauce.
  • If you have leftover noodles and sauce and want to store them together, put the sauce in the container 1st and the noodles on top. Your noodles will not become overly saturated and flabby.
  • Spaghetti sauce can be frozen.

Eggplant Parmesan -

  • Makes a good warm sandwich

French Fried Onion Rings -

  • If you have them leftover from green bean casserole, try crushing and adding into other casseroles like ‘tater tot casserole.”  It will give a new flavor.
  • Try topping a casserole with any left over fresh.

Your Input:  I’m always looking for new ideas – what are your favorite ways to use your leftover potatoes, vegetables, herbs, & dishes they’re made from?

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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