The Accidental Locavore was interested to learn earlier this year that repurposing food was one of the food trends for 2013. Like calling prunes dried plums, repurposing food makes leftovers sound like something more marketable — or thought up by a focus group. No matter what you call them, leftovers are one of those galvanizing family topics — love em or leave em.
Now, I happen to be in the camp that likes leftovers (and I might possibly like leftovers better than repurposed food). First of all, it’s a meal — lunch or dinner — that you don’t have to dream up. No worrying about coordinating meat and veg, just heat (sometimes) and eat. Secondly, with a lot of foods, particularly braised or slow-cooked meals, they’re much better a day or two later. Another advantage with braises, it also gives you an easy way to get rid of the excess fat. After a day in the refrigerator, it solidifies and is easily picked off.
If we’re really talking about repurposing, I think the trend is more towards actually thinking up new forms for the leftovers to take than just reheating — which you’re probably doing already. If you pick up a rotisserie chicken, serve some of it for dinner and turn the rest into a chicken salad for lunch, that’s repurposing. One of my favorite repurposed things are the leftover potatoes from the Christmas roast. Sliced and pan-fried in a little butter, they’re the best home fries ever!
Although my husband likes leftover salad, I find cold, slimy lettuce unappealing. There are some exceptions. For example, the other day I was testing a Brussels sprout salad recipe and there was quite a bit left. Mixed with some roasted sprouts found in the fridge, it was better repurposed the next day (and since I was done with the testing, I could add more lemon juice to it, which it needed).
Fried food also doesn’t have much appeal after the fact. Besides being a reminder that you’re probably not eating terribly well, there’s the reheating factor. With the possible exception of doughnuts or chicken, there’s nothing fried that tastes good cold. I don’t fry food at home — I hate the smell afterwards and would never refry something. So that leaves heating it in a microwave (soggy and tough) or oven (warm but not interesting).
So, do you repurpose, reheat, wait for it to turn into a science project or just toss? What are your favorite leftovers?