Daily Archives: December 15, 2009

Leftover linguine? Try a quesadilla

I hate – just HATE – throwing out leftovers.

It is such a waste. Food was not grown to be wasted. And there are simply too many hungry people in this country and in the world for any of us to be throwing out food.

There is plenty a person can do to best use the food you have. First, don’t let gluttony get the better of you. Exercise proper portion control and simply do not make more food than you reasonable want or need for a particular meal. That alone will help the obesity problem in this country.

Second, take a page from the environmental/conservation movement and recycle or reuse leftovers into another meal. As a child, I used to love it when we had spaghetti because there was always extra pasta. Usually, there wasn’t extra sauce, but plenty of noodles. The next day I’d take the pasta, add ketchup and dig in. I haven’t done that since my college days, but I always thought it was pretty tasted. And cold pizza leftover from the night before is a fine breakfast. Sort of.

So you have steamed veggies from the night before? Simply warm them in a pan before adding beaten eggs for a spin on scrambled eggs. Or come up with a lunchtime sandwich using something that was dinner the night before – chicken, roast, eggplant. Or combine leftovers from a couple of meals for a quick casserole or hash. All it takes is a touch of imagination.

Getting started

And if you need help coming up with ideas, there are plenty of websites out there with suggestions on how to recycle and reuse leftovers. I did a quick web search and found plenty right away:

LeftOverChef.com

Teri’sKitchen.com

LoveFoodHateWaste.com

That’s three links and good enough for a start. To be clear, I am not endorsing any of these sites, simply pointing out that they are out there and there should be plenty to get you started on avoiding wasting food.

Going too far?

I have to admit that I may have carried reused leftovers a little too far last night. It was early evening and I had not had anything to eat since I purchased a large cookie at the coffeehouse in the afternoon. The cookie was not sustaining me into the early evening so I peered into the frig and found very little – a jug of water, a carton of milk, tortillas, cheese, baby spinach and some leftover linguine mixed with a Trader Joe’s sausage sauce.

I closed the frig door, walked back into the living room, sat down, and took a sip from a can of Simpler Times lager. (Remember, I’ve been out of work since March so Simpler Times is what I can afford to drink. Get beyond it. I am.)

Within moments, I was back at the frig. I had to eat something and I was not about to head out to the store. I fished out the tortillas, cheese, baby spinach and the leftover pasta and placed the various items on the counter and stood back a moment, fists on hips.

“Well, what am I going to do?” (I sometimes talk to myself, usually not loud enough for anyone to hear. … Usually.)

“I suppose I could have a plain quesadilla.” (That’s me still talking to myself. It usually doesn’t get ugly unless I get in an argument with myself … and lose.)

“But I have the leftover pasta. But I don’t want to heat that up. And I am not in the mood for cold pasta. Hmm. What to do?” (Really, this is a process and we are getting near the end of it. Really.)

“OK, then, I could meld the cultures – linguine quesadilla.” (Trust me, I’m a much better conversationalist when I have someone with whom to, well, actually have a conversation. Other than myself, that is. … Really.)

International relations through food

I put a tortilla on a plate, put down a layer of pasta, sliced up cheese and layered that over the pasta. (I’ll use the baby spinach for something else.) I put a top tortilla and popped it in the microwave for about a minute and took it out and quartered it. The cheese had melted to form a bond between the ingredients and the tortillas, which made it much easier to eat than you might expect. And it was taster than you might expect, but I’m not convinced the Simipler Times didn’t help it go down.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you put your pasta in your quesadilla. I’m just saying that you can if you want to. Or you can come up with your own leftover quesadilla.