25 ways to use up leftover ingredients

Our resident Canny Cook, Cassie Best, shares 25 original ideas for using up surplus Christmas ingredients...

25 ways to use up leftover ingredients

1. Got a carrot going spare? Eat it for breakfast

Grate 1 large carrot into a bowl, add 50g rolled oats, 4 tbsp apple juice or milk, 1/tsp ground cinnamon and 2 tbsp chopped apricots or raisins. Mix well, then chill overnight. To serve, mix in 50g natural yogurt and top with chopped walnuts.


2. Freeze those browning bananas

Bananas freeze really well, so as soon as you see those brown spots, peel then pop into freezer bags. Add them frozen to smoothies, or defrost and mash for a delicious banana cake or banana pancakes.

More ideas for ripe bananas

3. Cook your salad leaves

Stir-fried lettuceIf your leaves are starting to turn limp, stir-fry iceberg or Gem lettuce with some sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce for a speedy Asian-inspired side dish.

Asian-style stir-fried lettuce
Griddled lettuce & peas

 

4. Make your own chilli oil

Fill a sterilised jam jar halfway with a mild olive oil, add a thyme sprig and 1 garlic clove. Every time you have a spare chilli, thinly slice and add to the oil, topping up with oil to cover. The chillies will keep for months. Add them to curries, or drizzle the oil over pizzas, salads or pasta.


5. Waste-not-want-not dressing

Pour 1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp honey and 3 tbsp olive oil into a jar of mustard that’s nearly empty. Season, then replace the lid and shake well to mix. Pour over salad leaves or steamed green vegetables.


6. Whizz up old bread

Broccoli with breadcrumbsWhizz up leftover herbs and stale bread in your food processor to make herby breadcrumbs, then freeze. Use from frozen for a great coating for fried or baked fish, or add cheese and make a topping for baked mushrooms.

Recipe inspiration: 
Aubergine katsu curry
Chilli prawn spaghetti with gremolata breadcrumbs


7. Don't discard Parmesan rind

Use the rind from Parmesan to add flavour to risotto, soup or stew – just remember to take it out before serving.


8. Give apples a new lease of life

Use up slightly soft or spoiled apples by adding them to your toad-in-the-hole. Core and slice 2 apples, bake with the sausages until golden, then pour over a batter made with added chopped sage.


9. From-the-fridge pizza ​

Mix 2 tbsp curry paste with 2 tbsp mango chutney and 1 tbsp tomato purée. Spread over 2 naan breads, top with 1 thinly sliced red onion, 1/2 chopped red pepper and a handful of chopped cooked meat – chicken, ham or salami all work well. Tear a ball of mozzarella into small chunks and dot over the pizzas. Bake at 200C/180C fan/gas 4 for 20 mins or until the naans are crisp and the cheese has melted. Scatter with coriander and serve.


10. Cheeseboard mornay

Make a simple white sauce, then stir in your cheeseboard leftovers – try a mix of grated hard cheese, a spoonful of cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese, or any others you might have. Season, then add ground nutmeg and Dijon mustard for a rich, delicious sauce for cooked pasta or cauliflower – or serve with a gammon steak.


11. A fragrant salsa verde

Salmon with salsa verdeClear out unused fresh herbs to create a tasty twist on salsa verde. Blitz a large bunch of mixed soft herbs (such as basil, coriander, chives, tarragon, mint or parsley) with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tsp capers and 3 tbsp olive oil. Season, then chill until serving. Particularly good with fish.


12. Fruit & nut couscous

Gather all the leftover dried fruit and nuts from your Christmas recipes, cut into small pieces and add to cooked and fluffed-up couscous along with fresh herbs and lemon juice. Serve with lamb chops or grilled chicken.


13. Marzipan petits fours

Any leftover marzipan can be used to stuff dried apricots and dates, which you then dip in dark chocolate and finely chopped pistachios. Leave to set and serve as after-dinner petits fours with coffee.


14. Slice-now-use-later ham

Thinly slice any leftovers from a joint of ham, then stack in 2-3 slice bundles (enough for a sandwich) between layers of baking parchment. Put the sliced ham in a sandwich bag, freeze, then remove and defrost a bundle at a time, whenever you want to make a sandwich.


15. Marmalade Martini

A glam way to use up that last spoonful of marmalade in the jar. Pour 50ml gin into a nearly empty jar of marmalade. Put the lid back on and shake the jar well to combine. Add 2 tbsp orange liqueur (I used Cointreau), then juice 1/2 lemon and the juice 1 clementine. Shake well, strain into 2 chilled Martini glasses and serve.


16. Coconut milk magic

Leftover coconut milk mixed with icing sugar makes a deliciously different icing to drizzle over mince pies.


17. Mixed root veg coleslaw

ColeslawUse a combination of leftover uncooked carrots, celeriac and beetroot with shredded cabbages or sprouts. Mix with a dressing of mayonnaise, lemon juice and a little mustard, and serve with cold meats, cheeses and jacket potatoes.


18. Decorative citrus fruit

Thinly slice citrus fruits, then arrange on a couple of baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Bake at 140C/120C fan/gas 2 for 45 mins-1 hr until completely dried out. Tie a piece of string through the centre, then hang from the Christmas tree; or if Christmas is over, save for next year – they will keep for years.


19. Don't throw away your crème fraîche

If you have a small amount of crème fraîche left in the tub, add it to mashed potato instead of milk, or combine with chopped anchovies, lemon juice and chives for a quick Caesar-salad-style dressing.


20. Speedy yogurt flatbreads 

Mix natural yogurt with an equal quantity of self-raising flour and a sprinkling of cumin seeds. Divide the dough into walnut-sized balls, roll as thinly as you can and cook on a hot griddle pan for 1-2 mins each side.


21. Stale pitta & tortilla 

Tortillas Break up stale pitta or tortilla wraps, lay on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Grill until turning golden brown at the edges. Eat like crisps or for a Lebanese-style salad, scatter over lettuce, tomatoes, parsley and cucumber, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and sumac.


22. Stem ginger mocktails

Mix the syrup from a jar of stem ginger with lime juice, soda and ice for a spicy mocktail perfect for the drivers.


23. Lemongrass gives puds a lift

Add bashed lemongrass and cardamom pods to classic rice pudding to give it a heady, aromatic flavor.


24. Gorgeous ground almonds

Leftover ground almonds will add richness and texture to your turkey korma.


25. Perk up cooked rice

Fry 1 chopped onion in a drizzle of oil, add 2 tbsp mild curry powder and 300g cooked leftover rice. Flake through some hot smoked fish – mackerel, salmon or trout all work well. Heat for a few more mins, then scatter with chopped parsley. Serve with a poached egg for a hearty breakfast or lunch.

More leftovers guidance...

Our favourite leftovers recipes
Christmas leftovers recipes
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Love your leftovers: How to use up common surplus ingredients

Do you have any tips for using up leftovers? We'd love to hear your leftovers recipes... 

 

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