Quick meals with Christmas leftovers
We often think that after having enjoyed the gourmet feasts of Christmas we can sit back and relax and enjoy the leftovers. However, when cold meats no longer cut the mustard it’s time to get creative again.
Over the summer hols, always have a few basics on hand whether at home, in the caravan, on the boat or at the beach. Pasta, rice and couscous are great holiday staples as they combine quickly with canned or frozen foods, spices, sauces and leftover meats in stir-fries, one-pot meals and salads.
Canned beans are also winners. Mash them to make dips; toss them in dressings together with fresh veggies to make salads or combine with veg in a saucepan for a one-pan stew to serve on rice or in tacos.
Here are quick ideas for four-serve meals
Ham carbonara: sauté 2 cups of diced ham in a little butter, until browned. Whisk 3 eggs, 1 cup of cream and 3 crushed cloves of garlic in a large bowl. Add the ham. Add 300g of hot cooked spaghetti and mix well so the hot pasta cooks the egg. Top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.
Turkey and caper salad: Whisk 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard with a 1/4 cup of olive oil and the finely grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon. Place about 250g of shredded turkey meat in a salad bowl together with 1 cup of pitted, chopped green olives, a 1/4 cup of rinsed capers, 1/2 a cup of chopped parsley and a punnet of cherry tomatoes (halved). Drizzle with the dressing.
Vitello Tonnato: whizz a 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 egg yolk, a 185g can of tuna in spring water (drained), 4 anchovy fillets (optional) and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a blender, until smooth. Stir in a 1/4 cup of cream and little stock if too thick. Fold in 2 tablespoons of rinsed capers. Pour over thinly sliced cooked veal on a platter — or lamb, beef or chicken.
Ham and potato pie
Leftover potatoes and peas could replace the freshly cooked ones. Serves 4
2 each: large onions, potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup peas
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup each: chicken stock, crème fraîche
1 tablespoon each: dried oregano, prepared mustard
250g thickly sliced ham, diced
375g puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- Melt the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan. Sauté the onions on low heat for 1-2 minutes. Cover and gently cook for 5 minutes, until golden but not brown.
- Meanwhile, cover and microwave the potatoes in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Stir well then add the peas. Cover and microwave 1-2 minutes, until cooked. Add to the onion and mix well.
- Stir the flour into the frying pan, then slowly add the stock, stirring and cooking until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche, oregano, mustard and ham. Cool. Spoon into a 22cm x 15cm pie dish.
- Roll out the pastry to about 7mm thickness. Cut a strip about the same width as the pie plate rim. Brush the rim with egg then secure the pastry strips to it. Brush with more egg then place the remaining pastry sheet on top. Trim. Cut a slit in the centre for the steam to escape. Brush the top with egg and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. This can be done a few hours ahead and refrigerated
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and crisp. \
Chicken could also be used. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons each: plain yoghurt, mango chutney or other fruit chutney
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
200g leftover cooked potatoes, diced
1 cup peas (cooked if frozen)
200g (2 cups) diced cooked turkey (or chicken)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves and stalks
6 sheets filo pastry
1/4 cup rice bran oil
- Combine the yoghurt, chutney and curry powder and mix well. Fold in the potatoes, peas, turkey and coriander.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Cut the filo in half lengthways to make 12 strips. Cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
- Brush 1 strip with oil then top with 2 more oiled-brushed strips. Pile 1/4 of the filling in a corner of the filo. Fold the pastry over the filling to make a triangle. Keep folding in triangle formation to the end of the strip. Repeat to make 4 samosas.
- Place on an oiled baking tray and brush with more oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and the filling is hot.
- Great served with plain yoghurt combined with chopped mint and diced cucumber.
400g minced cooked lamb, beef or chicken
1 1/2 cups Mexican-type salsa
3-4 drops Tabasco sauce, optional
8 taco shells
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup grated cheese
1 large onion, diced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 small avocado, toned, peeled and diced
3/4 cup sour cream
- Combine the lamb and about 3/4 of a cup of the salsa and the Tabasco. Cover and heat through in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
- Warm the taco shells according to the packet instructions.
- To serve, fill the tacos with the lettuce, lamb and other toppings of choice.
Summer pasta and chicken
Cooked or smoked chicken is excellent in this pasta combo. Serves 4
250g dried linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup white wine
300g diced cooked chicken
2 tablespoons each: chopped chervil or parsley, diced gherkin
- Boil the linguine according to the packet instructions
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan. Sauté the shallots, until tender. Stir in the garlic then add the wine. Simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated. Stir in the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer on low heat for 1 minute. Toss together with the cooked and drained linguine and top with the herbs and gherkin.
- Excellent served with a large crisp salad and crusty bread.