Sometimes you just need a little inspiration when faced with leftover root veggies; here are some ideas to use leftover root vegetables that will have you hoping for leftovers.
Start to think about how any leftovers might be transformed into something marvelous and use up those leftover root vegetables. Think about your leftover root vegetables as a building block for recipes that rely on an already cooked ingredient; as a shortcut. All you need is an inspiration & maybe a recipe.
Think of the recipes you’ll use as “guides” not something set in stone, especially as the amounts of your leftovers might not exactly match an amount in a recipe. Once you have a leftover ingredient to start with, scale recipes up or down, substitute and make do.
What are Root Vegetables:
There so many, but the most commonly used in the US are potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, sunchokes, fennel, radishes, and jicama. Celery, onions, horseradish, garlic, ginger, turmeric are all roots used in cooking; leftovers aren’t so much an issue for some of the basic cooking roots.
General Ways to use Leftovers Root Veggies:
Think of using your leftover root vegetables to shortcut any recipe that already calls for cooking the vegetable. Most of these will work for just about any root vegetable and are great contenders for any roasted root vegetables leftover from big dinners or holiday parties.
1. quiche & frittatas:
Leftover baked, steamed or roasted vegetables can easily be added to quiches or frittatas (or just added to scrambled eggs.) Take a look at the Roasted Root Vegetable Frittata by the River Cottage.
Almost any root vegetable is fantastic in a salad or bowl – especially when combined with grains like rice, brown rice, quinoa. Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Kale Salad Bowls from Gimme Some Oven is a beautiful thing.
3. pot/shepherd’s pies:
Leftover root vegetables of all kinds can be added to pot pies or shepherd pies. Since most shepherd pies are usually topped with mashed potatoes, those mashed can be all or part of other root vegetables in addition to potatoes. These Beef & Guinness Pies can be loaded up with all kinds of root vegetables. The stronger Guinness flavor plays very well with roots. Just tuck your already cooked root vegetables in at the end of the cooking process.
4. cold salads:
Some of the stronger tasting root veggies might be a hard sell, but basic white or red potatoes go so well in potato salads like this Yukon Gold Salad. Sweet potatoes give an opportunity to get more creative. Check out this Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Lemon Dressing from Recipe Tin Eats. Just about any roasted root vegetable can be brought back to life with a sharp vinaigrette. Check out this Roasted Root Vegetable Salad by Southern Living.
5. pizzas & flatbreads:
There’s no end to pizza possibilities when it comes to leftovers. We especially love adding leafy greens with root vegetables. Maybe you’ll take some inspiration from Roasted Root Vegetable Pizza from the Colorful Kitchen.
Our Irish Potato Cakes come to mind, immediately, but all kinds of root veggies can be roughly mashed and formed into cakes and sautéed or fried into crunchy deliciousness! How about Root Vegetable Fritters from the Genius Kitchen?
7. tacos or burritos:
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes may be the easy option, but consider these Roasted Vegetable Tacos from Prevention. There are also a few other recipes on this page ideal for leftover root vegetable, part of their Cook Once, Eat all Week series.
8. hash or hash browns:
No brainer, right? Already cooked veggies make the best, crunchiest hashes. Our favorite is Baked Potato Hash Browns, but any root vegetable is going to make a marvelous hash, either as one type, a combination, or combined with other items like a meat. Red Flannel Hash uses potatoes and beets, or how about Corned Beef Hash? Get creative with what vegetables you have.
Mash root vegetables with milk or cream, heat and serve as an option for the next meal. Don’t forget the salt! These mashes can be pretty dull without a touch of salt.
10. soups and chowders:
Almost all leftover root vegetables can chopped and added to soups, or pureed and added to soups for body and flavor. Leftover veggies can be added to a bag in the freezer, kept by type or in combinations that make sense as they accumulate, until there’s enough to make a cream soup. My Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder uses a few roots, and I often make it from leftover turkey rather than smoked.
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes:
In the US we’ve had a long-standing love affair with the potato, and more recently the sweet potato. They’re probably the easiest off all the root vegetables to rework into something marvelous.
Baked Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes:
I make extra baked potatoes all the time just for the leftovers! There are so many ways to use them. Here are a few of our family’s favorite ways.
1. potato skins:
Deep fry or brush with oil and bake until brown & crunchy. Fill with whatever your version of deliciousness is, then broil. You can’t go wrong with filling them with cheese & bacon.
2. baked potato soup:
Make a quick leftover baked potato soup for one or two. Melt a tablespoon of butter, add a tablespoon of flour, cook for a minute or two. Add 1 1/2 cups of milk and your leftover potato pieces. Simmer till warmed through and add cheese and bacon and a dollop of sour cream if you like.
3. crunchy, cheesy fries:
Cut potatoes into quarters, dip in melted butter, roll in Parmesan cheese and bake at 400 degrees, turning once, till crunchy and brown. This will transform not only potatoes but just about any leftover root vegetable still sturdy enough to withstand the cooking.
Make twice baked potatoes with leftover sweet or russet 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 at 350 degrees F.
5. hash brown cups:
Peel and shred for Hash Brown Cups. Get an idea of how to do this by looking at these Nested Corned Beef Hash Cups.
Leftover Mashed Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes:
Leftover mashed potatoes are a great way to thicken up soup like this Navy Bean Soup with Bacon and Wild Rice Chowder. They also make great Potato Cakes or pancakes and fritters or croquettes. The possibilities are almost endless to use leftover root vegetables when you start out with a mash! If your leftovers aren’t in a mash, maybe they’re cooked and soft enough to mash and proceed.
Pierogies may not be the easiest option, but are one of the most delicious, especially if you have a good amount of mashed potato or sweet potato. Just scale a recipe, like this one The Smitten Kitchen.
Since gnocchi is often made from potatoes, mashed can stand in. The amount of dairy in the potatoes may affect the texture. Try adding a little extra flour or use this recipe for Mashed Potato Gnocchi .
3. potato “muffins”:
Make potato muffins – press mashed potatoes into greased mini muffin tins, top with cheese and bake at 400 degrees F. till golden brown.
Wrap portions of mashed potatoes around a small cube of cheese. Dip into flour, then egg wash, then back in the flour (or in breadcrumbs) and deep fry. If you’d like an actual “recipe” see this one from Paula Dean.
5. bubble & squeak:
A mix-up hash like recipe, bubble and squeak is easy and it’s delish. See this recipe from GoodFood.
Leftover Hash Browns:
Leftover hash browns, especially crispy ones, can be a harder sell to refashion into fabulousness but here are a few ideas to refashion and use leftover root vegetables like American fries or any kind of hash brown:
1. breakfast burritos:
Add to a breakfast burrito with sausage and/or bacon, eggs, and cheese. Make it the night before and reheat in the a.m. I’m partial to my Green Chili Breakfast Burritos.
2. breakfast casserole:
Spray a casserole with nonstick spray, line with hash browns. Mix a few eggs with a little milk, add cheese and pour into the dish. Bake at 350 until eggs are set, 20 to 30 minutes.
Top a casserole with hash browns during the last 25 minutes of cooking for a quick, crunchy option.
4. waffle them:
Breath new life into leftover hash browns by tossing them into an oiled waffle maker.
5. au gratin them:
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.
Carrots, Parsnips, Rutabaga, Turnips:
Purees and hashes come to mind as great ways to use potatoes but they are great way to use leftover root vegetables like these stronger tasting root veggies. Carrots, Parsnips, Rutabagas and Turnips are often roasted together for holiday meals, so use them together as a puree or hash. Carrots can be tossed into any recipe that needs cooked carrots, but it would be a shame to discount the other roots! Here are some other ideas:
Mash your roasted root vegetables (if they’re not already mashed) well and incorporate into a souffle, like this simple country Souffle.
2. fried rice:
Fried Rice is an easy no-brainer for all kinds of vegetables. These stronger root vegetables, diced, add a lot of flavor. Here’s an easy Fried Rice based on a recipe by the Asian Grandmother. Tuck a few diced up root vegetables in for a fun kick.
3. sides with grain:
You pay through the nose for those frozen microwavable packets of grains or rice combined with veggies. Either combine your veggies with a grain or rice you make or add your roots to leftover grains or rice for an easy, healthy side. A little lemon or a vinaigrette can go a long way to brighten up the flavors.
Puree for a dip, warm or cold. Add a little lemon or vinegar to brighten, harissa and/or other spices if you’d like. See Elaine at Foodbod for all kinds of ideas to take your veggies to the next level. Check under “Pimp Your Veg” for all kinds of fun ideas.
5. add to greens:
The deep, earthy flavor of roasted (or not) veggies like carrots, parsnips & rutabagas pair well with hearty greens. Use as a side, or think about adding to a risotto, like this one from NYT.
The color and texture of some beet dishes can be a little off-putting, while others are glorious. Since beets take some time to roast, consider making extra to use in salads and bowls or other recipes, in that case you’re preplanning but don’t be shy about nabbing them off a relish tray, either, as a way to use leftover root vegetables.
Check out this Beetroot & Goat Cheese Tart from Ginger & Bread for inspiration. You (or anyone else) would never guess this can start with leftovers.
Beet pickles start out with cooked beets, so if one or two are languishing in your fridge, think about making a small batch recipe like my Grandmother’s Pickled Beets.
Beets have a natural sweetness and gorgeous colors, so they’re marvelous in smoothies. Try this one from Fuss Free Flavors.
4. beetroot soup:
This simple beetroot soup from Williams Sonoma is so simple, it’s easy enough to cut back if needed. Of course, all you have to do is google beet or beetroot soup for all kinds of newer and classic recipes.
5. out of the box:
Always think out of the box when faced with any leftovers! How about Roasted Balsamic Beet Mustard from Adventures in Cooking.
Onions & Rings:
Store leftover chopped onions (like when you cut too many for a recipe) in a bit of water in your fridge for a day or two; it helps reduce the strong flavor that develops. Read the Myths about Onions to put your mind at rest about safety. If you just have too many onions, chop up, divvy and freeze for recipes. Saute first if you wish. Making good use of your onions will be a great way to prevent the most common waste & here are ways to use leftover root vegetables like onions, scallions, and relatives.
Make a simple refrigerator pickle with red onions or pickle white onions, especially the small ones, for cocktails.
2. burgers & meatloaf:
Use in burgers & meatloaf or any other mashed up mix up.
It doesn’t take too long to caramelize a few onions. Drop them in a Ziploc and store in the freezer for instant dips or other recipes.
4. reheat leftover onion rings:
They’ll crisp when baked in a single layer in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. top a casserole:
Fried onion rings are great chopped or broken up as a casserole topping.
Eliminate Food Waste:
Here are a few practical tips on how to maximize the use of leftover root vegetables by using up potential waste. Some are old “chestnuts” but all are doable.
1. potato/sweet potato peelings:
Mix potato peels with enough lemon juice and olive oil to evenly coat. Spread the potato peels in a layer on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees, stirring once, until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Season to taste.
2. carrot/radish/beet tops:
Yes, Radish Top Pesto is a thing. And it’s a beautiful, tasty thing. Carrot and Beet tops are edible, too. Tops can also go into Chermoula or Chimichurri. Add to a saute or a salad. Think any place you’d add parsley.
3. another use for tops:
Dehydrate veggie tops in an oven on low. Snack on them (some people swear by them as “chips” just not me – I can’t warm up to them but maybe you can) or use them to boost your smoothies or other cooking.
Save all kinds of vegetable pieces and parts and use in your morning Green Smoothies. Think “nutrient-packed” items like asparagus & broccoli stems. Beet greens, etc. Leave out seeds.
Keep in a bag in the fridge or freezer, any carrot tops and peelings, celery pieces, onion skins and other bits of vegetables (use your judgment as to how well something will taste) to add to your stock or broth when making. I love adding a turnip or peelings to my chicken stock.
I know I’ve only scratched the surface with ways to use leftovers! What are your favorite trips, tips and ways to use leftover root vegetables? I’m always loving finding something out that’s new to me and would love it if you shared back!