In love with leftovers

Another dish turns out spectacular, thanks to using whatever is on hand.

The finished product came out very well. —Connie Berry

When you’re making something with veggies, sometimes it’s fun to chop them into little cubes — I mean really little cubes — and then toss them into just about anything. After a stir-fry, I had leftover zucchini and onions neatly cut into tiny pieces. And because I sometimes don’t like the texture when zucchini is sliced into those round circles and sautéed, I thought I might enjoy the veggie more if it were in a cute little cube. I was right.

I figured I could just cook a few odds and ends together in butter, olive oil, and garlic, and we’d like it just as well as looking up a recipe online or in one of my cookbooks. So in another attempt to use what I already had without making another trip to the store, I sliced some mushrooms I found in the fridge and put them in a frying pan with a little olive oil and a little butter. I let them cook for a while, emitting those wonderful mushroom juices, and then I added chopped garlic and onion. I let that simmer a bit, and then threw the rest of my cute zucchini cubes in last.

We could’ve just had the sautéed veggies as a side dish, but I decided to cook a box of gluten-free pasta so I had a nice bed to lay them on. And I’ll be brutally honest, I also had a jar of Rao’s homemade Alfredo sauce, and I mixed it into the cooked pasta. To serve it up, I plated the pasta and scooped some of the mushroom-zucchini mixture on top. What we were left with was a delicious dish that combined my leftovers with the Alfredo pasta. I topped it with Parmesan cheese, and everybody went back for seconds.

My mentor (although he’s not aware of it), Jacques Pépin, is a huge proponent of using leftovers to make something tasty for dinner. I feel strongly that he would approve of this one. He might even allow a little jarred sauce in a pinch.