Monday, September 6, 2010

These Days I'm Loving Leftovers!

These days I'm loving leftovers. That's when I've been venturing out of my recipe comfort zone and becoming more inventive.

Over the weekend, we had a family cookout and I had asked Tim to make his famous, mouth-watering mussels. Well come to find out, only a few people in my family care for mussels. So although the mussels were thoroughly enjoyed by my mom, my sister Jen, her husband Dave, Carly, Tim, and me, I don't think anyone else even tried them. And so we were left with lots of mussels and the delicious sauce he makes them with.

Before I continue with my post about leftovers, I need to take a little jaunt to describe how these mussels are made. Several of my friends have asked for the recipe, but Tim rarely uses a recipe and the mussels are no exception. So I've pinned him down to explain the process. First, he sautes garlic and shallots in oil and butter (more butter than oil). Then he throws in the mussels and about a cup to a cup and a half of dry white wine, and steams them until they open. He finishes it off with his homemade pesto (I'll have to share that another time, but let me say it is so good he should bottle the stuff!!) and some grape tomatoes. He gives it a stir, allowing the tomatoes to heat. That's it! We usually dunk a hearty whole grain bread in the sauce which makes it even more enjoyable!

So as I was explaining, we had mussels and sauce leftover. Typically, I would just make whole grain pasta the next day and pour the mussels and sauce over it- and that is really delicious, but Tim and I wanted to avoid the heavy pasta the day after the big cookout, so my wheels started spinning.

This is what I came up with: I started with spaghetti squash, which we have substituted for pasta before. If you've never done this, you really should try it! You feel like you are eating pasta but instead you are getting a nutritious vegetable! I roasted the spaghetti squash in the oven on 375 for 40 minutes. You'll need to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the pulp and seeds like a pumpkin and put the two halves cut side down on a baking sheet. After the squash was roasted and somewhat cooled, I stripped it into long strands with a fork and transfered it into a glass baking dish. Next, I dumped all of the mussels (we'd removed them from the shells the night before) and sauce (with the grape tomatoes)into the dish. I mixed in some thawed spinach which I had LEFTOVER from a turkey recipe a few nights before and some dallops of ricotta cheese. I sprinkled some grated pecorino over the top and baked it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before it was ready I topped it with a few fresh mozzarella slices.

What do you know? I invented a recipe! And it was delicious. AND I used food that may have remained unused and eventually thrown out.

But that's not the end of the leftover story. We also had a huge gallon-sized bag of grilled chipotle lime chicken leftover after the same cookout. (There is always too much food at our get-togethers!) So I cut some of it up to equal two cups, exactly what I need for my chicken enchilada recipe. I labeled that and put it in the freezer since we've had the enchiladas recently. It will be ready for next time! And now we still have plenty of chicken to use for sandwiches during the week.

So as you see- I'm the leftover queen lately!


  1. You are not only inventive in the kitchen, but I love reading your writing. You are one gifted Sally.

  2. mussels...will have to try the spaghetti squash again - have had it in the past, but haven't been Mom was the leftover wizard - she could stretch them into several totally different meals. She never wasted food - it's a good skill to have!!!

  3. What a great idea to use the squash,,, it's been way too long since I've used that, makes me think for next time we have sauce..! Keep up the blogging Maria, I look forward to these!

  4. Thanks ladies! We had it reheated tonight as a side dish with more of the chicken. It was just as yummy the second time around. Now enough with the leftovers- Tim's cooking tomorrow night!

  5. Those mussels sound so good! I love the idea of adding pesto to them! Leftovers rule!

  6. Hey Jenn, thanks for visiting! I am just getting into the leftover thing- so I will definitely check out your blog too!