The meals of Thanksgiving and Christmas are as much about overabundance as they are the gathering together of family and friends. Which might be why I look forward to leftovers just as much as the actual meal. Yes, there's the comforting tradition of a plate with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and green bean casserole all fit into their own little space. But there's also something really delicious about the spoonful of leftover green bean casserole stolen from the Tupperware straight from the fridge.
And after that illicit bite, there's even more fun to be had in deconstructing the elements of the original meal and reconstructing something else entirely. I swear my brain has several tracks of thought all working at the same time, and one of them is entirely devoted to food. So thinking up new things to do with leftover dishes is just a great little brain teaser for me to work on. Leftover cranberry sauce is great mixed with some plain yogurt to make, well, cranberry yogurt. It's also a fabulously fruity ice cream topping. And stuffing that isn't eaten with turkey can be stuffed into a portabello mushroom and roasted for a vegetarian entree to worth being giving thanks for.
Spaghetti squash was technically part of our Christmas dinner, but last week we did make way too much of it and ended up with more than an entire squash's worth of veggie spaghetti left in the fridge. I've been making my way through it not just by reheating it with some tomato sauce and parmesan. Oh no, that's too easy.
First, I decided to make spaghetti squash pancakes. I took a little inspiration from the Jewish holiday staple of latkes. Though the squash is naturally a little wetter than shredded potato, when mixed with some egg whites and flour it can still be pan-fried into a respectable cake. I still prefer the potato version, but these with some tomato sauce were pretty good. It's interesting how even the same ingredients just prepared into a different form can keep something from feeling repetitive.
For the pancakes I had already started sautéing some extra veggies, like thinly sliced onions and carrots. So last night, as I was tossing in some frozen red pepper, beet greens and mushrooms, I decided to improvise a little more, and instead of adding the veggies to cold squash before mixing in the egg and flour, I just dumped the squash straight into the frying pan. I added a little soy sauce and other seasoning, then really took it over the edge with the addition of a fried egg.
I know that calling this bowl of deliciousness Squash Mein is not an accurate representation of Chinese cuisine, but that's what I'm calling it. It's all the best things about fried rice, without the greasiness (unless you count that as one of the best things, in which case you're better off calling for delivery). And I've just made it again tonight for dinner.
Do you have any favorite leftover food hacks? Or do you prefer to just reheat and eat? Or have you mastered the art of never having too much left over at all?