Fact: I love food. Also a fact: I hate food waste. So here’s the thing: at the end of the week, have you ever noticed that your fridge has half-full jars of this, half-empty bottles of that? Or your vegetables are starting to look a bit sad and droopy? Here’s what I like to do to use up leftovers and make something truly exceptional.
Use up spring onions
Spring onions (or green onions, or scallions, depending on where you’re from) are a total staple of mine. You’ll no doubt have seen that I’m privy to a generous smattering of ‘em on top of the majority of my dishes. But – hands up – sometimes life happens, the meal plan goes out the window, and come the end of the week the onions are looking a bit sorry for themselves.
When life gives you sad spring onions? You make spring onion sauce.
How to make spring onion sauce
Use a mortar and pestle to bruise 1 cup of finely sliced spring onion (scallions) along with 1 tsp of salt until it forms a rough paste. Place 4 tbsp of vegetable oil and 2 tsp of sesame oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Heat until a chopstick or wooden spoon placed into the oil sizzles. Then carefully pour the hot oil over the spring onion paste. Stir until combined. Spoon out into a small serving bowl or dish.
You might like to try adding 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger to the mortar and pestle to add some hum to your sauce. This is epic served with roast chicken and grilled meats.
Use up those lonely carrots
If your fridge is facing carrot overload and you don’t want them to go to waste, try a spicy and zingy Thai som tum salad using carrot rather than the traditional papaya. It’s a delicious side to add some freshness and bite to a main meal.
Alternatively, you could do some quick pickled carrot to add to your sandwiches or Vietnamese banh mi. Sweet and tangy, it’s totally moreish, and you can tweak the quantities to suit whatever’s lurking in your crisper.
How to make pickled carrot
Combine 2 cups shredded carrot, ¼ cup finely sliced spring onion (scallions), ¼ cup white vinegar and ¼ cup sugar in a bowl and set aside, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. And yes, that’s all there is to it!
What to do with leftover roast chicken
A roast chicken can stretch so far! If you’ve got some meat left on your ol’ bird, shred it up and make a delicious salad or a batch of my soul-reviving Hot & Sour Soup. It takes a mere 10 MINUTES but the comfort lasts so much longer, my friends.
Oh, and don’t forget you could absolutely make homemade chicken stock, too!
Don’t throw away those mushrooms! Make this instead
On a similar vein, I’ve also got a mushroom hot and soup version as well – ideal with any type of mushrooms you have in the fridge that need using up. This is also a great option to make if you happen to have any random dumplings knocking about your freezer!
Leftover lemons? Try this lemon salt
Lemons are SUCH a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. If you’ve got some that are on their way out, cut them into wedges and use them to squeeze over your fried noodles, like pad Thai or pad see ew. And, if the zest is still looking in good nick, try making lemon salt – it’s the star topping in my Korean-style grilled chicken. Once you taste it, your life will be all the more better for it!
Simply combine the finely grated zest of 1 lemon with ½ tsp of chilli flakes (or more, if you like things hot ‘n’ spicy), 1 tsp black sesame seeds and ¼ tsp of sea salt.
Use up that lonely chilli
If you come across a solo chilli chilling out in the depths of your crisper, don’t just let it wallow in misery. Turn it into chilli vinegar and drizzle it on your noodles for some acidic zing.
Just finely slice the red chilli, then mix it with a 1/4 cup white vinegar. All done.
A random menagerie of vegetables
Now here’s one way to use up those leftover vegies: anything from carrots and broccoli to sweet potato and more. These vegetable pakoras are an ideal way to clear out the crisper and make something fabulous in the process. They also make a really great kids’ snack – just leave out the chilli powder and carry on as usual. Plus they’re gluten free!
For the vegies, choose from cabbage, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant; nothing too ‘wet’ or the batter will become too sloppy. You can concentrate on just one veg if you prefer – make cauliflower pakoras, for example, or potato and onion ones, or sweet potato ones.
Give that rogue cabbage a new lease on life
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover cabbage AND leftover sweet potatoes. Yep, Japanese Sweet Potato Okonomiyaki is lip-smackingly good, and it tastes just as good the next day in lunchboxes or on a weekend picnic. You could also try serving them with eggs for breakfast to get your day off to a cracking start! Bonus: I also have a version using edamame and haloumi. Equally delicious.
I hope you like these ideas of using up leftovers. Let me know what you think! (Psst… don’t forget you can now leave reviews on your favourite recipes here on the site!)