Leftovers Transformed: “Shortcut” Scalloped Potatoes, Butternut Sage Quinoa, and More!

Most of my cooking here at Camphill actually involves pulling together a quick lunch from the various odds and ends from the past week’s meals. Even though I am sometimes struck with a stab of panic or frustration when I first survey the array of jars of this-and-that I have to work with, I actually enjoy the creative challenge of finding a way to transform the random assortment of leftovers into a cohesive meal. Admittedly, some weeks I end up with a more balanced and appealing meals than others. Occasionally, I end up with dishes I am downright excited and proud of. Here is a sampling of some of the more noteworthy. Might even be worth planning for leftovers, just to make some of these again!

1. “Shortcut” Scalloped Potatoes: Thanks to Kristin, from Yellow Bliss Road, for sharing her grandmother’s brilliantly simple method of making scalloped potatoes. With leftover boiled potatoes from the previous week’s “papas en chaqueta con salsa de pepa,” and the remnants of an amazing cheese sauce (from what I could gather, the secret is sauteed onion and mustard powder), it couldn’t be quicker, easier, or more delicious to make this delightful comfort food. Sorry I don’t have more precise measurements, since I was just using what I had available, and I thinned the leftover sauce with a fair amount of milk as I heated it in order to make it pourable and to stretch it far enough to cover all the potatoes. Check out the original recipe for more of a sense of ratios, especially if you are making it from scratch.

“Shortcut” Scalloped Potatoes

Whole boiled potatoes
Cheese sauce — this one had sautéed onion and mustard powder in it rather than my usual seasonings, any cheese sauce you like would work great
A few generous sprinkles of paprika, or to taste
A handful or two of shredded cheese (optional, I used asiago)
Minced parsley, chives, or dill (optional)

Cut potatoes into round slices. Arrange in layers along the bottom of a greased casserole dish, pouring sauce between each layer. Sprinkle paprika and cheese over the top and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and warmed through. Garnish as desired, and enjoy!

2. Butternut Sage Quinoa with Celery and Walnuts: Had some leftover red quinoa and about a half of a roasted butternut squash leftover. Cut the squash into large cubes, skin and all, sautéed some onion and celery until tender, then stirred in the squash, walnuts, and dried sage, and finally the quinoa with a little more oil, salt, and pepper until warmed through and delightful!

3. Farmer’s Pie: What do you do with a cup of leftover beef stew and a few cups of seasoned “chili” ground beef? Apparently, there are quite a few ideas out there on the internet for stuffed pastries and meat pies and casseroles. Since I had lots of potatoes and not a ton of time, I decided a hearty “farmer’s pie” was in order, returning my vegan “shepherd’s pie” to it’s pastoral roots. Had fun decorating the top with a checkered fork design — thanks to The English Kitchen for this creative flourish! Totally forgot to add herbs to the potato or veggie layer, but thankfully the meat was already so flavorful that it was a hit nonetheless. (And a match for even the most voracious of farmer appetites among us!)

4. Mixed Grain “Pizza Bake”: I’ve been dying to try this since I came across Megan’s recipe (and mouth-watering photos) on With Salt & Wit. Quinoa smothered in cheese sauce, with fresh tomatoes and parsley and more cheese sprinkled on top. When I found a container of leftover quinoa, a jar of stewed tomatoes, and a little quark (cultured and strained milk similar to ricotta cheese, one of my favorite of the European delicacies I’ve been introduced to here) in the fridge, and learned there was a little parsley up for grabs in the veggie greenhouse, I seized the opportunity. Wow! Even better than I expected! I will definitely be making this again the next time I get the chance!

Mixed Grain Pizza Bake
About 6 cups cooked grain (I used a mix of quinoa and millet)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
3 tablespoons flour (optional)
1 cup quark (I imagine ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or this yogurt would also work well)
3 cups canned tomato (or milk, as called for in original recipe)
1 cup shredded cheese, such as parmesan, asiago, and/or romano
A tablespoon or two Italian herbs (I used a mix of dried basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano)
A teaspoon or so of salt and black pepper (I omitted the salt, since I used salted butter)
Desired pizza “toppings” (I used sliced tomatoes)
A few sprigs fresh parsley

Blend together cultured dairy and canned tomato until smooth. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour to form a thick paste, stirring constantly until golden and “nutty.” (Honestly, I think this step could be omitted if you wanted, since the sauce is already thick). Stir in blended sauce and heat until bubbly, then add half of cheese. Once melted, combine with cooked grain, pour into a greased 13×11″ casserole dish, cover with desired toppings, sprinkle remaining cheese on top, and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes, garnish with fresh parsley leaves, and enjoy!

5. “Picadillo”: Was scratching my head over what to do with the remnants of last week’s Moroccan Carrot Soup, taco meat, and rice. The fantastic Immaculate Bites compilation came to the rescue again, introducing us to a Puerto Rican spin on picadillo.

Picadillo is typically made with potatoes, peppers, tomato sauce, and “Sazon” seasoning — since I didn’t have these on hand, I used the splash of leftover soup and the closest seasoning approximation I could devise. At least I did have the raisins and green olives that truly make this dish stand out.

Picadillo

Chopped onion and garlic (and bell peppers, if you have them)
1 teaspoon or so of oregano, cumin, coriander, black pepper, salt, and achiote
A cup or two of tomato sauce (or a complementary leftover soup, if you are daring)
A pound of ground beef (or a few cups of leftover cooked ground beef)
A cup or two chopped potatoes, if desired (since I had already thrown being fully authentic to the wind and didn’t have any, I added cooked brown rice instead)
A few handfuls sliced green olives and raisins, to taste

Saute onions (and peppers if you have them) in oil for a few minutes until soft, then add garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two more. Add meat, tomato sauce, and potatoes if cooking fresh and fry until potatoes are tender, adding a bit of water if necessary. Or, if you are making a slapdash medley of leftovers, add the rice and tomato sauce or soup, simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, then throw in the meat, olives and raisins, cook just until heated through, and enjoy!

6. Hand Pies: What to do with a small jar of leftover steak stew and mung bean curry? Tuck them inside a pie crust. Was rather time intensive to roll out each crust and fold them up, but result was so fun and snazzy. Pamela’s provided great guidance.

Hand Pies
(Makes 8)

Pastry Dough
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled
1/3 cup cold water

Egg wash: An egg yolk — or whole egg, if you are lazy like me — beaten with 2 teaspoons of water

Filling: A half cup or so of meat, veggies, beans, or whatever you desire — leftovers straight out of the fridge are perfect!

Combine flour and salt, then cut butter into small cubes and incorporate with a pastry cutter. Stir in water gradually, divide into 2 logs, wrap, and chill for as long as you can spare, up to an hour. Divide each log into 4, returning the rest to the fridge until ready to use it. Roll each piece out into a thin circle between two pieces of parchment paper, brush edge of one half of the circle with egg wash, place about 2 teaspoons of desired filling on this half of the circle, inside this edge, and fold the other half on top using parchment paper.  Roll up any uneven edges and press together with finger and then a fork to seal. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and return to fridge, remove next portion of dough, and repeat until all are formed. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F, brush with egg wash and slash a few steam vents on the top of each, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake another 10-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and bubbly. Let cool at least long enough not to burn your tongue off, then enjoy!

7. One-pot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls: Been enjoying garbanzos in an amazing homemade tomato sauce all week, and decided to turn some of the leftovers into “cabbage rolls.” Hey, I’ll take any excuse to throw cabbage and caraway seed into a meal. Couldn’t be easier, if you have some leftover rice and pasta sauce. Just chop up cabbage and fry it in oil until crisp-tender, add a little salt, pepper, and plenty of caraway, then stir in some tomato sauce and rice, a little water if necessary or a splash of lemon juice if you have it, heat through, and devour!

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This entry was posted in Casseroles and Baked Dishes, Gluten Free, Out of the Frypan, Salads and Pilafs, Vegan and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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