Loving Leftovers: Spring Rolls & Veggie Bowl

If you don’t plan ahead, cooking can take a lot of time out of your life. Although I love to cook, I only do it a few times a week. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to cook a meal from scratch every night – but that’s just not realistic between work, going to the gym, and having a decent social life. Instead, I plan ahead to make 2 or 3 different dishes in bulk and eat leftovers throughout the week.

The leftovers approach is fine by me – I have no aversion to leftovers and find it the easiest way to cook for myself without spending all of my free time in the kitchen. But I recognize that leftovers aren’t for everyone. Sometimes I can get a little bored of eating the same thing over and over.

My best advice is to reinvent your leftovers. Here I’ve prepared two dishes with almost all of the same ingredients except a few (very easy) additions. First, I made spring rolls with farro, tofu, vegetables and a peanut-mustard dipping sauce. Using a fried egg, I reinvented the dish into a veggie grain bowl using the filling from the spring rolls. You could take it a step further by adding a different protein, a new veggie, or your favorite grain to the bowl. This approach will save you a lot of time in the kitchen while also keeping your meals exciting every day.

Read more about my approach to leftovers in this post from September. How do you keep your leftovers fresh and exciting? Leave a comment with some inspiration for me and other readers!

What you need for both recipes:

  • 1 cup cooked farro
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts chopped and sautéed with ½ tablespoon soy sauce until wilted (I used the leftover Brussels sprouts centers from this recipe)
  • 1 head red cabbage, chopped and sautéed with 1 clove minced garlic and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Farro & Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Mustard Dipping Sauce

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Drain a ½ block of extra firm tofu between paper towels for 20 minutes (best results if you put something heavy on top, like a large saucepan, to press the tofu). Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients above (you’ll use only half for this recipe, the rest for the grain bowl). Slice the tofu into ½ inch slices and season with salt and pepper. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook tofu in pan for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set on a paper towel to cool and cut into 1 inch strips.

Moisten 1 spring roll wrapper according to package directions. Lay on a wet paper towel on top of a cutting board. In the center of the wrapper, place the farro, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, tofu, and cilantro (about 1/3 cup total). Roll according to package directions. Repeat to make a total of 6 spring rolls.

Prepare the dipping sauce by whisking ½ tablespoon peanut oil, ½ tablespoon soy sauce, and ½ tablespoon whole grain mustard in a bowl. Store these in the fridge wrapped individually in plastic wrap (otherwise the wrappers will stick together and tear).

Yield: 3 servings. Serving size: 2 rolls. Per Serving: $2.88, 343 calories, 11g fat, 68g carbs, 16g protein.

 

Veggie Grain Bowl

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Top the leftover farro and veggies from the spring rolls with a sunny side up egg. Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

 

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $3.01, 339 calories, 7.5g fat, 83g carbs, 18g protein.

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A Second Chance for Leftovers: Caprese Salad Two Ways

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I recently made a big win for leftovers. The photos above (which may look familiar if you follow me on Instagram) capture two caprese salads: on the left is a traditional caprese of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil topped with farro; on the right is a caprese minus the basil plus quinoa and a poached egg.  Both salads warranted #nofilter and were as tasty as they are beautiful. The traditional caprese was dinner on Tuesday and the poached egg caprese was brunch on Sunday.

A key component of my approach to home cooking is leftovers. Leftovers save time and money by allowing you to make multiple meals at once while taking advantage of bulk pricing. However, I understand that there are people in this world that are vehemently opposed to leftovers. If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll give leftovers a second chance (no pun intended) by trying these tips to keep things exciting:

1) Add a new ingredient every time. If you’re the type that will get bored of eating the same meal multiple times in one week, add new ingredients to the dish each time. With my caprese salad, adding a poached egg completely changed the dish. Add a handful of spinach to leftover pasta, throw some kale chips on top of soup, or steam different veggies every night to serve alongside chicken. I’m also a huge fan of throwing anything on top of a salad – including deli meat, meatballs, and even lasagna.

2) Store and reheat properly. I recently had a terrible experience with a leftover quesadilla that I attempted to reheat in the microwave at work. What was originally a crispy, melty veggie quesadilla ended up a greasy, soggy mess. In retrospect, I should have brought the ingredients (cooked veggies, shredded cheese, and a tortilla) separately and cooked them for the first time in the microwave, rather than reheating. A great dish can turn into a disaster if the leftovers are not stored or reheated properly (think soggy salads). In advance, think about how the leftovers will reheat and plan accordingly.

3) Consume in a timely fashion. When people think of leftovers, they imagine a forgotten container in the back of the fridge filled with an unidentifiable substance. Don’t let your leftovers get to that point – intervene by the one week mark. One week after the dish was originally prepared, either eat it, toss it or freeze it. If you need to, label your leftovers with a date to make sure they aren’t forgotten.

Caprese Salad

Cook ¼ cup farro according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with farro, drizzle with ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 basil leaves cut into ribbons. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.72, 474 calories, 11.5g fat,69g carbs, 26g protein.

Poached Egg & Tomato Salad

Cook ¼ cup quinoa according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 1 ounce mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with quinoa and ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Boil 1 inch of water in a small saucepan. When the water is simmering, gently drop 1 egg into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, keeping the water at a simmer. When the eggs white have cooked thoroughly and are opaque, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon. Top the salad with the egg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.09, 338 calories, 13g fat, 38g carbs, 21g protein.

Leftovers Salad

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I left yesterday for my family’s annual vacation on Cape Cod. Almost every summer that I can remember we’ve vacationed on the Cape, spending days on the beach and evenings enjoying each other’s company. Ice cream is always involved.

This year there are 9 of us – my dad, my brother and three sisters, significant others, and me. We have a lovely red house off of Main Street in Chatham within walking distance of the baseball field and our favorite candy store. We’ve already made a few delicious meals, so you can expect more vacation posts in the weeks ahead.

Before I leave for vacation (or any extended period of time, for that matter) I try to eat (or freeze) all of the food in my fridge. I desperately avoid wasting food, so when this salad came together perfectly with the leftovers in my fridge I couldn’t help but share.

I don’t have a perfect recipe for this one but you can probably get the idea from the picture. It’s a bed of mixed greens with half a tomato, a cucumber (fresh from my deck garden), shredded carrot, very thinly sliced jalapeno (also from the garden), chopped onion, fried tofu, and – my favorite salad accessory – farro. I dressed it with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.