Leftover Vegetables & Herbs

So many things you can do with leftover vegetables, and I’m starting with potatoes – keep scanning down for the other vegetables, herbs and vegetable dishes! Start thinking of your leftovers as convenience products – building blocks for other meals.

Hash Browns from Left Over Potatoes
Hash Browns from Leftover Potatoes

Think of leftover vegetables whenever you’re making a meal that calls for precooked vegetables. After all leftovers are the most expensive food items in your house – you’ve invested your hard earned money into that food and your valuable time. You’ve planned, shopped, transported, stored and prepared them – don’t waste them!

Leftovers can easily be the building blocks for another dish later in the week. Think, as you put away your food after dinner, for ways to use your leftover vegetables as a convenience item for another dish later in the week.

As a matter of fact, why not cook extra vegetables and use them in dishes later in the week for planned leftovers? I’ve recently started tagging my posts that can be used to make planned leftovers or that can make use of leftovers, so it will be easier to find them. Just click the tag Vegetable Leftovers to the left on the page.

Vegetables, General:

  • Think about using the appropriate leftover vegetables for any recipe that already calls for cooked vegetables or requires you to cook vegetables for the recipe! A few that come to mind: Quiche, Frittata, Scrambled Eggs, Omelets, Pot Pie, Chicken a la King, Fried Rice, a simple Souffle. Many different vegetables can be incorporated into a Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Don’t forget to add them to soups. Many make wonderful cream soups on their own or in combination with other vegetables. (Leftovers can be frozen in ziplocs by type or combinations that will make great soups.) Some vegetables, leftover and already cooked can be dropped into soups to reheat towards the end of the cooking time of the soup.
  • Casseroles almost all rely on already cooked vegetables.
  • Transform your vegetables: Add a white or cream sauce, heat through in a saucepan or bake until bubbly. Add a cheese sauce. Make Croquettes.
  • Marinate or quick pickle them and use them as a side or an appetizer.
  • Add to Pizzas. I tend to get pretty creative with Pizza – one of our favorites uses leftover Sauerkraut, but many vegetables can go on Pizza.
  • Use them in your next morning’s Green Smoothie.
  • Some vegetable scraps make a marvelous flavored water…others? Maybe not so much. Cucumber is delicious. Tomato is good, too.
  • Leftover vegetables can be gently reheated with a little butter and water and try adding a herb or two for another flavor.
  • Add bits of vegetables to stuffed zucchini or peppers.
  • Make Bubble & Squeak – fry everything in a saucepan, add mashed potatoes and mix together, may add grated cheese, form into cakes, dusted with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.
  • Make vegetable hash is done in much the same way, cut up vegetables into chunks, fry till golden brown. My Salmon and Asparagus hash has been made many times with leftover Asparagus, but I often throw other vegetables into a hash, and flavor appropriately.
  • Save the water you cook vegetables in and use it in your soups, sauces and gravies or smoothies. Canned vegetable liquid can sometimes be used in white sauces in place of part of the liquid.
  • If you haven’t used a whole vegetable in a recipe, wrap the rest and keep in the door of the fridge, where you’ll see it every time the fridge is opened. I keep mine where eggs are usually stored, because the Egg Council recommends you not store eggs in the door, but in a cold area of the fridge. Advantage: Fresher eggs and no more rotten vegetables hidden in the drawers.
A few left over vegetables made this marvelous souffle
A few leftover vegetables made this marvelous souffle

Potatoes:

Au Gratin – Thin with milk to make instant cheese soup.

Baked:

  • Cut in half, scoop out the flesh, salt and pepper and fry or bake till crusty and golden for the best hashed browns ever. Try adding a touch of cream cheese to this at the end. Don’t forget chives or green onion.
  • For the skins, fry or brush with oil and bake till crispy. Add cheese and cooked bacon bits and melt in the oven for a few minutes for your own potato skins.
  • Add leftover baked potatoes to a soup or potpie if appropriate.
  • Make a quick leftover baked potato soup for one or two by melting a tablespoon of butter, adding a tablespoon of flour, cook a minute or two, add 1 1/2 cups of milk and your leftover potato pieces. Add cheese if you like.
  • Cut potatoes into quarters, dip in melted butter, roll in Parmesan cheese and bake at 400 degrees, turning once, till crunchy and brown.
  • Make twiced baked potatoes – remove the potato from the skin, mix with butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and/or cheese. Pile it all back in and bake until warmed through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
  • Heat and mash – or take that further and make into Mashed Potato Cakes.
  • Peel and shred for Hash Brown Cups. Get an idea of how to do this by looking at Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups.
Potato Skins made from left over baked potatoes.
Potato Skins made from leftover baked potatoes.

Hash Browns:

  • Leftover hash browns can be added into a burrito with any leftover sausage or bacon and a little cheese for a quick breakfast the next day.
  • Add them to a soup.
  • Put them in Quiche or a Fritatta.
  • Make tater tot type casserole, but use the hash browns instead of tater tots.
  • Serve the next day for breakfast – Spray or butter a muffin pan, press the hash browns in the bottom to form a crust. Bake till crispy, add an egg and cook through to the point you like them. This works best with shredded has browns, and is quite a lot like my Corned Beef Hash Cups.
  • You can mix leftover hash browns with a little cream or milk and cheese, bake until bubbly and golden brown as a kind of scalloped or au gratin potato.
Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups
Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups

Mashed Potatoes:

  • Larger quantity – Make a shepherd’s pie with the rest of the leftovers from the meal.
  • Make pierogi or gnocchi.
  • Make potato cakes or potato croquettes.
  • Small quantity – add to soups, especially any creamy soup. Works particularly well in bean soups to thicken – like my Navy Bean with Bacon Soup.
  • Make potato muffins – press into greased mini muffin tins, top with cheese and reheat till golden brown.
  • Reheat mashed potatoes with cheese and a few slices of green onions.
  • Take potatoes and roll around a ball of cheese, flour and deep fry.
  • Make Bubble & Squeak – fry everything in a saucepan, add mashed potatoes and mix together, may add grated cheese, form into cakes, dusted with flour and pan-fried till golden. These little cakes freeze well.

Navy Bean with Bacon x

Crudite Platters:

  • Cook the appropriate vegetables, or add to soups & stews. No need to waste any leftovers. While in general it is wise to follow a two hour window with foods, generally vegetables, which are cooked and/or simmered before serving would be one of the safer things to use. Use each individual in any way appropriate.

Vegetables – General:

Salmon & Potato Hash - the asparagus and the Salmon were left over!
Salmon & Potato Hash – the asparagus and the Salmon were leftover!

Vegetables – Specific:

  • Asparagus: pickle, marinate or batter and deep fry. Use the recipe for my Onion Ring Beer Batter for a deep fried, tempura like Asparagus. Save up in the freezer and add to Cream Soups.
Asparagus is marinated after it's cooked so it's ideal for left overs
Asparagus is marinated after it’s cooked so it’s ideal for leftovers
  • Beans: Make three bean salad or one bean or two bean – freshly made is wonderful. Marinate or pickle. Use in chicken a la king.
Dishes that require one to cook vegetables are ideal for left overs.
Dishes that require one to cook vegetables are ideal for leftovers.
  •  Beets: Any beets may be served with a salad, or pickled. My family always saved the juice from beet pickles, and just dropped any leftover beets right into the jar. Give them a day or two to pick up the flavor.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli makes great croquettes, with or without cheese. Can be added to many casseroles, especially ones with a cream sauce and chicken or ham. Leftover is perfect in Frittatas or Quiche. Wonderful in soup – save in a zip bag in the freezer for cream soup, steam up extra broccoli when making to make a Cream Soup later in the week.
Cream of Broccoli Soup - left with cream, back garnished with yogurt.
Cream of Broccoli Soup – left with cream, back garnished with yogurt.
  • Cauliflower: May be pickled much as Cucumbers. Save in a zip bag in the freezer for cream soup. May be combined with Broccoli for a fantastic creamed soup. May be mixed for croquettes with white sauce. May be mixed with white sauce and cheese added or not for a scalloped dish. See White Sauces and What to do with them. Chop finely and add to Frittatas. This one is Aspargus, but almost any vegetable is fantastic in a Frittata.
Frittatas are most impressive served right from the pan at the table
Frittatas are most impressive served right from the pan at the table
  • Corn: Corn or creamed corn can be added to corn bread or johnny cakes. Corn Pudding is great. Spice it up like a Mexican corn, street vendor style. Add to a soup like my Wild Rice Chowder.
Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder
Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder
  • Cucumbers: Make a quick refrigerator pickle – boil 1 cup of vinegar with 1 to 2 cups of sugar and pour over cucumbers, let sit at least 2 hours – these will keep for weeks in the fridge. You can also mix cucumber with a little sour cream, splash of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar for a refreshing side dish.
  • Greens: Can be added to many soups, also can be “creamed” with a bit of white sauce, topped with buttered crumbs and baked as a side dish. Can be added under a layer of food, such as chicken Parmesan, eggs Florentine. Mix with sour cream and cream cheese for a quick dip.
  • Onions: A large quantity can make onion soup. If I only need a portion for a recipe, I’ll saute the whole onion and freeze the part I don’t need, ready to go for another meal. Creamed onions are wonderful and made with a bit of white sauce.
  • Peas: Go very well in any cream sauce. Think Chicken a la King, Creamed Chicken, Pot Pie. Also toss in salads, like the one using Lemon Yogurt Vinaigrette. Smash them up, add a few herbs: basil, mint, etc. or a combination and serve over pasta or on toasts for a kind of pea pesto.
Spring Pea Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing
Spring Pea Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing
  • Peppers: almost any leftover pepper, green or red, hot or mild can be made into a small jam or jelly – it doesn’t take much to make a cup. You can also finely dice and heat with honey and drizzle on any type of cornbread when it’s hot out of the oven. You can char, peel and freeze. Little bits from the stem or bottom can be mixed with cream cheese for the best flavored cream cheese – it so beats out the premade at the store. Leftover cooked peppers are wonderful in a salad bowl with a bit of brown rice, quinoa, etc. Try it with a tahini dressing.
  • Potatoes: have their own section, scroll up.
  • Pumpkins: Don’t forget to toast the seeds – make up your own flavor combinations, brine or go au natural. Leftover pumpkin flesh can be pureed, cubed and tossed with dressings (balsamic is particularly good) and/or combined with other combinations of flavors – pumpkin and cranberry is nice in a salad. Pumpkin can be added to many soups.
  • Root Vegetables: Mash root vegetables and serve as an option with the next meal. Freeze and add to chowders. They can be marvelous mashed and added to a Souffle. Sweet potatoes/yams can be made into a cake: Here’s a Chocolate Yam Marble Cake from Melissa d’Arabian. Almost any root vegetable is fantastic in a Salad Bowl – perhaps stretched with bit of rice, brown rice, quinoa. Think of dishes like Chicken a la King for root vegetables like Carrots. Fried Rice, too, can use an amazing variety of vegetables.
All kinds of vegetables can go in fried rice
All kinds of vegetables can go in fried rice
  • Spinach: Spinach works well into a cream cheese and sour cream dip. Don’t wait for an occasion, just mix some up and serve with vegetable sticks. See also ‘greens’. Use for a ravioli filling using leftover won ton wrappers.
  • Squashes: So many are fantastic in Salad Bowls – think of mixed with greens, brown rice or quinoa, drizzled with a lemon yogurt, balsamic or tahini dressing. Using leftover squashes saves time. Can also be pureed and served as a side later in the week.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Leftover baked can be peeled and fried for breakfast and served like hash browns. Mash and serve again, flavor like you would sweet potato casserole (or not), or add to a pancake or waffle batter. Make twice baked sweet potatoes, and add a little bacon for garnish. Cut into sticks and fry for french fries.
  • Tomatoes Canned or Sauce: If you only use a partial can, get in habit of immediately pouring into a Ziploc and labeling with type, amount and date. Freeze till next time you need to make something with tomatoes. Thaw in a bowl in the microwave or add frozen to soups. I often buy the larger cans to save money and freeze the rest. If you drain whole or diced tomatoes, save the juice from the can and doctor for a virgin or bloody mary, or add to soups, sauces pastas, pot roast or meatloaf. It might separate a bit in the fridge but can be kept for a week, and frozen indefinitely.
  • Tomatoes, Cherry: Roast any leftover Cherry tomatoes from a crudite platter, for instance and serve over pasta, crostini or in salads or Salad Bowls. Leftover Roasted tomatoes can be used in the same way. Add to scrambled eggs or omelettes. Mix with beans and serve over toasted breads.
  • Tomatoes – Sun dried: Add to pasta salad or almost any chicken dish using cream. Add to chicken salad. Use the oil it’s packed in to dip garlic bread or saute your aromatics for an Italian sauce.
  • Tomato Paste: Need one tablespoon and had to open the whole can? Freeze in a small baggie. Break off needed quantity when you are ready to use.

Vegetable Parings

    • Keep in a bag in the fridge any carrot tops and peelings, celery pieces, onion skins and other bits of vegetables (use your judgment as to how well something will keep or how it will taste) add to your stock or broth when making. Alternatively, put in a container in the freezer.
    • Save all kinds of vegetable pieces and parts and use in your morning smoothies.
    • Make Spa Water with certain vegetable parings: Tomato and Cucumber are both wonderful.
    • Potato peelings – yeah, not so great, although I’ve heard of people frying them up and serving as a snack.
Spa Water - made with Vegetable and/or Fruit Scraps.
Spa Water – made with Vegetable and/or Fruit Scraps.

Herbs

  • Almost any fresh herb can be dried in small quantities. Don’t let them wilt and throw them away! Just spread them on a plate, let air dry and put in Ziploc or jars. Label.
  • Try using minced herbs in a crumb topping for casseroles.
  • Herbs can be frozen with water in an ice-cube tray and added to soups or stocks.

Sauerkraut

  • Use as a hot dog relish.
  • In Reuben sandwiches.
  • Serve with sausages or pork in a braise.
  • Add to Runza filling.
  • Use as a Pizza topping.
Braised Sausage & Sauerkraut Pizza with Bacon & Ricotta
Braised Sausage & Sauerkraut Pizza with Bacon & Ricotta

Spaghetti Sauce

  • Put a little over chicken breasts and bake for Chicken Parmigiano.
  • Spread a bun or English muffin, add cheese and broil for a quick kid friendly snack.
  • If it has meatballs or sausage, place all on a good sliced roll, cover with mozzarella and broil. Fried peppers and onions are good on this.
  • A tablespoon or two can round out the flavor of a vegetable beef soup.
  • Larger quantities can be used in many pasta bakes and lasagna.
  • Spaghetti Pie – toss spaghetti noodles in leftover sauce, top with cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan or all of the above and bake till heated through and cheese is melted.
  • Try as a pizza sauce.
  • If you have leftover noodles and sauce and want to store them together, put the sauce in the container 1st and the noodles on top. Your noodles will not become overly saturated and flabby.
  • Spaghetti sauce can be frozen.
  • Saute up some vegetables – onion, bell peppers, etc. Add marinara over and serve.

Eggplant Parmesan

  • Makes a good warm sandwich

French Fried Onion Rings

  • If you have them leftover from green bean casserole, try crushing and adding into other casseroles like ‘tater tot casserole.” It will give a new flavor.
  • Try topping a casserole with any leftover fresh.
  • Add to burgers! Even leftover it will probably be better than what you get while eating out. Or do you think they fry up one or two just for you?
Crispy Beer Battered Onion Rings
Crispy Beer Battered Onion Rings

Your Input: I’m always looking for new ideas – what are your favorite ways to use your leftover potatoes, vegetables, herbs, & dishes they’re made from?

3 thoughts on “Leftover Vegetables & Herbs”

    1. Thanks, Sophie! Of course, if you have any favorite ideas to add, feel free to comment! I grew up with very traditional “American” cooking so I know I see things through that particular “lens!”

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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