Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Leftover Makeover

Often by Thursday or Friday night, I find myself with an assortment of leftovers from several different meals, none of which is enough for a dinner. Fortunately, my husband actually likes leftovers. Occasionally we'll have a tasting menu, with half a dozen tiny plates arrayed before us, each holding a couple of tablespoons of something, none of which "go" together. Sometimes, however, I prefer to repackage the same foods in a new form to relieve the boredom of the leftovers. Omelettes fit the bill exactly. You can put practically anything into an omelette, cheeses, meats, veggies, starches, and end up with something new and (hopefully) improved. Here's this week's Thursday night inventory of leftovers:

Few broccoli flowerettes (leftover from our Super Bowl crudités platter)
About 3/4 of a red bell pepper (ditto)
A couple of cups of plain ziti (from a choose-your-own-sauce dinner)
Some broiled onions (from the same dinner)

Here's the process: I diced and quickly sautéed the pepper and broccoli with some olive oil in an oven safe skillet until tender and beginning to brown. I chopped the onions into smaller bits with my chef's knife, so they would distribute more evenly through the eggs and added them to the pan after the rest of the veggies had cooked. I cut the ziti in half (again, so they would combine better) and stirred them in just before adding the beaten eggs, salt and pepper. (I usually use 4 eggs per person for a dinner, but discard 3 of the yolks. I find that the one remaining yolk is enough to make the eggs still taste like eggs, but substantially reduces the fat and cholesterol in the dish. However, use whole eggs or egg whites if that is your preference.) Once the eggs are added, I transfer the skillet to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until my instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees and everything is lovely and browned. Serve directly from the skillet, or loosen the bottom with a wide metal spatula and carefully invert onto a platter for serving.

Notes & Pointers
In this case, the peppers and onions were very flavorful, so I wanted them to be the predominant taste. If my fridge was harboring veggies that were more bland (like spinach, eggplant or peas), I might add some crumbled feta, grated extra sharp cheddar or even a sprinkle of Romano or Parmegianno cheese (all of which I always have in my freezer) to liven it up. If I had leftover rice or potatoes, I would use that instead of pasta (if I have no leftover starch, I quickly microwave a potato or two until barely done, dice and sauté in the pan until brown before adding the remaining veggies). Leftover herbs would add a ton of flavor, either mixed into the beaten eggs or sprinkled over top of the cooked dish. Bits of bacon, ham, sausage, chicken or other meats would be lovely additions. Pretty much anything Mom tells me that her mother used to make Omelettes with leftover spaghetti including the tomato sauce....I haven't tried that yet, but one of these days I will....I'll keep you posted!

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