We've recently been turning to ways of transforming otherwise bland leftover food into something amazing. In our fridge there are always airtight containers with last night’s rice, pasta, cooked vegetables, fish or meat in. Waste not want not is the mantra.
A great way of making, say, a load of cooked vegetables and cooked pasta taste good is to whack it all into a casserole dish, cover it in a good tomato sauce (hopefully one that you have made and stored in the freezer) top with a cheese sauce and cook until golden and bubbling. Or take your rice and combine with leftover chicken, lemons, cardamon and cinnamon and bake in foil for a lovely quick 'leftover pilaf'.
I like to make sauces such as salsa verdé or 'green sauce', a strong, piquant sauce made from store cupboard ingredients that transform the blandest of meals into a thing of pleasure and beauty. A close second to that is harissa, a fiery North African sauce of red pepper and chilli that is so easy to make yourself and again, transforms the boring into the beautiful. Try it with fish or white meats, rice and salad. Make the most of your own little store in your kitchen and soon you will be a master of the leftovers.
2 red peppers
1 large or 2 small red chillies, deseeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp paprika (smoked or unsmoked)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 - If you have a gas hob, light 2 rings and place the peppers straight onto the flame. Using tongs, turn regularly until the skin is black all over. Pop into plastic food bags, seal and leave to cool. If you don't have a gas hob, rub in a little olive oil and roast in a hot oven until collapsed. Again, place into the food bags, seal and allow to cool.
2 - Once cooled, peel off the skin and discard the stalks and seeds. Pop into a food processor along with the chillies and garlic.
3 - Put the coriander seeds and cumin seeds into a dry frying pan and pan roast for 2 minutes until fragrant. Bash in a pestle and mortar or put into a couple of food bags and bash them with a rolling pin. Add to the food processor along with the paprika and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning.
4 - Pour into an airtight jar and top with the olive oil. This will keep for a couple of weeks in a fridge.