Saturday, March 17, 2012

Repurposing leftovers

As I have mentioned previously, one of my ways of saving money on groceries (or rather, affording higher quality stuff for the same as my old grocery bills) is to waste less and make good use of leftovers. Fortunately, this is something that is frequently done in restaurant kitchens, so there are lots of good professionally written recipes out there exploring this concept. Soups become gravies, sauces become stews.

One of my favorite ways to reuse leftovers is to use them as a filling. I heard once that Italians use leftovers to stuff the next nights ravioli, or the next day's calzones for lunch. I took this idea and ran with it.

My "wrapping" of choice is samosa dough, because it holds up well to fillings of all kinds (including things at are rather moist). It is also among the leaner doughs that I've found. And while samosas are typically fried, they are also wonderful baked. It's also a more passive process, not to mention neater and healthier, than frying.

Of course, savory shortcrust (pie dough), puff pastry, empanada dough, or pizza/calzone dough all work well too. Phyllo is finicky to work with but can also be a good option.

I use this recipe Inspired by Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network for my samosa dough. If I'm filling with something Indian I add the ajwain seeds. If not, I skip them.:

2 c flour
1/4 c vegetable oil (I have used canola and coconut. Coconut is great with an Indian filling)
1/2 c low fat yogurt or buttermilk
Good pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds, optional

Today I made samosas filled with leftover chicken molé. I also made a few filled with vinegary slaw that sat for a few days. I drained the vinegar but the cabbage and carrots were a bit pickly. These came out tasting a bit like egg rolls.

I rolled out the dough and cut into nine pieces. I filled each, careful not to overfill, and pinched the edges together. They mostly came out like turnovers, but one looked more like a samosa (pyramid shaped) and I'm not sure why. The edges stick together pretty well but if you want them to be pretty you can crimp with a fork.

I baked at 425 F for about 30 min, until golden.

They are delicious, and thrifty!

We had a few for lunch today, and the rest went in the freezer after baking and cooling. Depending on your filling and the size of your samosas, they can make a good appetizer for dinner guests, a quick snack if dinner will take a while, or for a workday lunch. By freezing, I was able to extend the shelf life of the chicken and slaw. They will sure beat a PB&J, or a fast food lunch, for Mr. Gurgly.

What's your favorite way to reuse leftovers?

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