Leftovers (Put an Egg on It)
I make leftovers delicious again by breathing new yolk into them.
Photos by Christina Uticone
I am the leftover-eater at my house, by virtue of being The One Who Works From Home. My husband always says he is going to bring his lunch to work; he promises every time he cooks for six for just the two of us.
I don't mind leftovers, but my main complaint is that they end up really dried out. Just a quick zap in the microwave or warm-up in the oven can leave them too dry to enjoy texturally, even if the flavors are just fine. So taking my family history of high cholesterol into account, I decided to start adding a sunny-side up egg to like, everything.
I've been compiling a list of possible foods for rehabilitation via eggs. Here are a few of my recent favorites.
Tomatoes and Eggs
My dad loves eggs, and when I was a kid he used to make this tomato and egg thing that would simmer on the stove and just gross me out completely. Obviously as I grew older this dish began to intrigue me, so I called him up to ask him if I could use my leftover spaghetti sauce to make Tomatoes and Eggs (pronounced tuh-MAY-tuhs and eggs, in our Upstate New York accent). His answer was, "I wouldn't. I like it with just whole stewed tomatoes, one can of plain tomato sauce, and frozen peas."
To make: Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a sauce pan and add a large (28 oz.) can of whole stewed tomatoes and a small can (14 oz.) of plain tomato sauce; add one egg and scramble/mix into the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste, and drop in about 3/4 cup frozen peas. Bring the tomatoes to a boil, then drop in 3-5 eggs (to cook more eggs use more tomatoes, in a bigger pot) and poach to your preference. My dad and I like runny, soft eggs but you can cook them as hard as you like them. This is a great recipe for using leftover canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce ... even though my dad said "no".
We love stuffed peppers and eat them all the time, and we often make them in large batches to use up bell peppers when we buy too many. You may see a pattern forming here about food quantity in our house. Anyway, reheated stuffed peppers are usually pretty dry. The answer? Put an over-easy egg on it -- while singing "Put an Egg On It" to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" (Put a Ring On It).
My husband makes this part-risotto, part-dirty rice, part-thing he made up, and we just call it "Dirty Risotto." It's usually what we throw together when we roast a chicken, but my favorite application is one egg on top of leftovers the next day or two, after the mixture has had time to sit in the fridge and cuddle with itself.
To make: To a small sauce pan add one 12-ounce beer, the liquid drained from a 10-ounce can of Rotel, and three cups of chicken or veggie stock; add one tablespoon each cumin and chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon Cayenne pepper, two tablespoons smoked paprika, and cracked pepper to taste. In a separate stock pot sautee two cloves of garlic and one-third of an onion in olive oil over low heat until soft; add the rice to the onion and toast for two minutes. Add one cup of liquid at a time to the rice, stirring only occasionally, until you can "squeegee" the mixture with a spatula; repeat this process with the remaining liquid, one cup at a time. It should take about 20-25 minutes for the liquid to full absorb. Add one 12-ounce can of rinsed kidney beans and the Rotel to the mixture and warm through. Serve as a side dish, but save most of it for the next couple of days and enjoy a bowlful with a nice, runny fried egg on top.
You can add goodies like olives, sundried tomatoes, or capers to add flavor.
Spaghetti Frittata (or "Spaghetti Pie")
Technically this is not a dish enjoyed leftover with an egg on top, so much as it is enjoyed with an egg in it. Leftover spaghetti makes amazing frittata -- good for breakfast, a snack, or late night drunken gorging. The spaghetti must be refrigerated in leftover sauce -- plain noodles won't do. This recipe works with about two cups of leftover spaghetti in sauce.
To make: In a bowl beat 1-2 eggs, depending on how much pasta you have leftover. Grate in about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and mix well. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat, and add spaghetti/egg/cheese mixture; press the whole mess down with a spatula and let sit, 8-12 minutes, until a brown crust forms on the bottom. If you are an expert frittata flipper, by all means flip away, but if you suck as bad as I do use a cutting board to flip the pie out of the pan and slide it, uncooked side down, back into the pan for another 8-10 minutes. Cut into wedges as you would a pizza and serve.
So what do you guys improve with the addition of an egg? I'm always looking for ways to scootch up that cholesterol level.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.