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For Earth Day: Recycle Roasted Vegetables into…Sushi!

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d share one of my favorite ways to “recycle.” It’s by using leftover ingredients to make a new meal. The key to never wasting leftovers is to use them up quickly instead of letting them languish in the fridge. Many times, whatever you have on hand might inspire you to make something even better than it was originally. Take the sushi pictured above. I made it using leftover roasted asparagus and carrots as the filling. I never would have thought of using roasted vegetables as sushi fillings had I not had them on hand. I love the extra flavor the roasted veggies brought to the sushi rolls. It made a great lunch and there were no leftovers!

Speaking of Earth Day, the food section in my local newspaper ran an article today that, to me, epitomizes what’s wrong with the “green movement.” The “green” tip was to pound meat thin to reduce the cooking time! What part of “animal agriculture is destroying the environment” do these people not understand? Veganism is the ultimate way to go green – we vegans put our environmentalism where our mouths are!

Fun with Leftovers

We had out-of-town company over the long weekend, so I had been cooking up a storm. Afterwards, I discovered my refrigerator filled with little containers of leftovers from the meals we enjoyed. There wasn’t enough of anything to “heat and eat,” but enough to provide lots of starting points to create several new meals. Here are some examples:

I had just enough leftover dressing and other ingredients to recreate Sunday night’s Caesar salad (the sprinkles are dulse flakes):

The vegetables from a leftover Roasted Vegetable Tower (see March 31, 2008 post) were transformed into roasted vegetable fajitas:

A few cups of leftover rotini were tossed with what was left of a vegetable tian and topped with panko crumbs for a yummy casserole:

Here’s a rice pilaf made with cremini mushrooms and fresh thyme:

I combined leftover cooked rice noodles that didn’t make it into a soup with some stray veggies for this noodle stir-fry:

Did you notice that there were no leftover desserts?

Impromptu Stew

I recently made a rich and delicious stew. It came about quite easily and almost effortlessly, although if I were to write the recipe it would sound impossibly complex. I put it together with leftovers, odds and ends, and a shrug. It went something like this:

Two days prior to making stew, make a seitan pot roast (see recipe in March 7 post). Refrigerate the leftover pot roast and the 1/2 cup of leftover gravy. The next day, use some of the pot roast to make seitan “cheesesteaks” for lunch and put the small chunk of remaining seitan back in the refrigerator. For dinner, make pasta puttanesca (see recipe in January 19 post). Refrigerate the leftover pasta.

On the day of the stew, rummage through the refrigerator to find one onion, a handful of baby carrots, one potato, some frozen peas and lima beans, and that leftover seitan, gravy, and pasta from the two previous dinners.

Chop the onion, carrots, and potato and place them in a slow cooker with about 2 cups of vegetable broth and the frozen lima beans. Let it cook for a couple hours (until the veggies are just tender), then chop the seitan and add it along with the peas, leftover gravy, and a can of diced tomatoes. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding salt depending on the saltiness of your broth, and any herbs or spices you enjoy — I added some basil and savory. Slow-cook another hour or so. About 15 minutes before serving time, stir in the pasta to let it warm up and soak up some of the rich flavors in the stew. (Alternately, you could heat the pasta on its own and ladle the stew on top, or serve the stew over cooked grains, if that’s what you have in the house.)

So there you have it. An impromptu stew that turned leftovers from two previous meals into a warming and delicious dinner.

(Note: you can also make this stew in a pot on top of the stove — I just felt like using the slow cooker.)