Home Healthy Eating World Earth Day: 5 Tasty Meal Ideas Using Your Leftovers

World Earth Day: 5 Tasty Meal Ideas Using Your Leftovers

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With searches for “vegetable leftover recipes” and “chicken leftover recipes” up by 50% and 22% over the last 12 months, foodies across the UK are looking for creative ways to reduce waste and try something new in their diet. 

Ahead of Earth Day on 22nd April, leading online grocery store Ocado, which prides itself on having low levels of food waste, has shared five delicious recipes using leftover foods, to encourage people to use up odds and ends in the fridge, and in turn, reduce food waste.

From a quick and easy fridge clear-out egg fried rice to a three-ingredient indulgent ginger lemon cake, plus a light and refreshing potato salad and gooey mac and cheese, see the delicious recipes below, including veggie and vegan options:

Fridge clear-out egg fried rice 

This is a simple and delicious way to use up any leftover chicken roast and veggies you have lurking in your salad drawer.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 250g wholegrain basmati rice 
  • 1 kg mixed vegetables (use any raw veg you have to hand, such as carrots, broccoli, green beans, peppers, spring onions, mushrooms and cabbage, in any combination you like)
  • 300g leftover roast chicken
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4cm ginger, finely grated 
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 4 eggs, beaten 
  • 20g coriander 

Method

  1. Place the basmati rice into a saucepan with 500ml water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 12 mins. Then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 3 mins before uncovering. All the water will have been absorbed. 
  2. While the rice cooks, gather your vegetables from the fridge and chop them into strips or chunks that are about the same size, so they cook evenly. For example, peel carrots and broccoli stalks into ribbons or cut them into matchsticks, cut broccoli florets up small, roughly dice peppers and shred the cabbage. 
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and, when hot, add 300g of leftover roast chicken and vegetables along with the garlic and ginger. Once the veg starts to turn golden, add the cooked rice and toss well to mix. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce to the season as you go.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and fold them into the hot rice. Keep moving the rice around until the egg is cooked through. Turn off the heat, stir through the chopped coriander, or other herbs of your choice, and serve.

Ingredients for this recipe can be found here.

Mac & cheese 

Mix different leftover cheeses together to create the ultimate mac and cheese masterpiece.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 400g macaroni 
  • 50g unsalted butter 
  • 50g plain flour 
  • 600ml whole milk
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 65g Wensleydale cheese, grated
  • 65g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g cambozola cheese, diced, or you can use other blue cheese
  • 100g diced pancetta 
  • 1 large leek, chopped 
  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 12 sage leaves 
  • 1 knob butter 
  • 25g panko breadcrumbs
  • 20g pecorino, finely grated
  • 1 handful of pea shoots, to serve 

Method

  1. Cook the pasta to packet instructions in a large saucepan then drain into a colander.
  2. Add butter and flour to the same saucepan and place on medium heat. Use a balloon whisk to combine the two – keep things moving. Cook for 3 mins.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the milk little by little, whisking constantly.
  4. Add nutmeg, a good grind of black pepper and all the cheese and whisk until melted.
  5. Add the pasta and mix well until it’s all coated, cover and keep to one side.
  6. Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5.
  7. In another saucepan add the diced pancetta and cook for 3 mins, then add the leek, thyme, 8 of the sage leaves (chopped) and butter. Cook for 5 mins until everything is soft and lightly golden then stir this into the pasta. Transfer to a large ovenproof dish.
  8. Mix together the panko and pecorino and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Dot little bits of butter over the top and the remaining sage leaves.
  9. Place the tin into the hot oven for 20 mins by which point it should be golden, crisp and bubbling.
  10. Serve with some pea shoots on top.

Ingredients for this recipe can be found here.

Homemade tortilla chips with crushed avocado and tomato salsa

A great way to reduce waste and take your snacking to another level is to make a mouth-watering comfort dish made up of leftover veggies and tortilla wraps. 

Cook time: 20 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped 
  • ½ tsp sea salt 
  • 25ml olive oil 
  • ½ tsp red wine vinegar 
  • 3 tortilla wraps 
  • 2 ripe avocados 
  • 1 lime or lemon, juiced, and extra wedges to serve 
  • 1 small handful of coriander (or any other soft herb,) roughly chopped 
  • 1 small handful of dill sprigs 
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced 
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped 
  • Black pepper (optional) 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 and line a roasting tin with baking paper.
  2. To make the salsa, place the tomatoes into a bowl and sprinkle them with salt. Add 1tsp olive oil and the vinegar, mix well and set aside.
  3. Slice the tortilla wraps in half, then into strips or triangles. Toss in 1 tbsp oil, place into the roasting tin and bake in the oven for 10 mins, turning once. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin – they will crisp up as they cool.
  4. Roughly chop the avocado flesh and place it in a bowl. Add the lime juice, 1tsp oil and the coriander and season to taste. Stir and mix with a fork, gently crushing the avocado. Some texture is lovely so don’t worry about trying to make it smooth.
  5. To serve, put the tortilla chips in a bowl and pile on the avocado and salsa, then top with the dill, radishes and chilli, if using. Serve with lime wedges and a twist of black pepper, if you like.

Ingredients for this recipe can be found here.

Ginger lemon freezer cake 

A dessert invented to use up any odds and ends of stale cake and biscuits. This three-ingredient pudding is the ideal way to make the most of your cupboard leftovers.

Prep time: 10 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 400ml whipping cream 
  • 6 tsp lemon curd 
  • 280g ginger nut biscuits (approx. 1 pack)

Method

  • Line a medium round cake tin (23cm across) with cling film, making sure you not only wrap the base but cover the sides, leaving around a 2.5cm overhang to help you pull the cake out.
  • Whip the cream to soft peaks – this should take 3 mins with an electric whisk. Add 4tsp of lemon curd and whisk to combine.
  • Now it’s time to start filling the cake tin. Lay one layer of ginger biscuits over the bottom of the tin, starting with one in the centre and placing the others in a circle around it. You can break up biscuits to fill in the gaps if you wish, or just use eight ginger nuts per layer – one in the middle and a neat circle of seven surrounding it.
  • Spoon a third of the cream on top and spread it out so the biscuits are covered. Repeat with another two layers of biscuit and cream, making sure you leave some biscuits (there should be four if you’re using a standard packet of ginger nuts) to crumble over the top.
  • Put the remaining 2tsp of lemon curd in a small heatproof bowl and microwave for 10–15 secs until it melts. Pour this over the top of the cake in a zigzag pattern.
  • Place the leftover biscuits in a ziplock bag, seal and bash with a rolling pin to make chunky crumbs. Scatter these over the top of the melted curd. Place the cake in the freezer for at least 4 hrs or preferably overnight. Take it out 20 mins before serving to allow it to soften and, if you like, top it with a sprig of fresh mint. 

Ingredients for this recipe can be found here.

Roasted baby potatoes with leftover herb salsa verde

A great way to prevent wilting herbs from going to waste, this warm potato salad can be used as a barbecue side dish or a lunchtime treat.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 750g baby potatoes 
  • 160ml olive oil 
  • 30g mint leaves 
  • 30g coriander leaves 
  • 10g capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 5g caster sugar 
  • 1 tsp salt 

Method

  1. Boil the baby potatoes in a pan of salted water until they begin to soften (when a fork can be inserted into them easily). Drain and return to the pan with the lid on to steam until dry (approximately 5 minutes). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. 
  2. Add 60ml of the olive oil to a deep roasting tin (35cm x 25cm) and heat in the oven for 5 minutes or until smoking hot. Carefully transfer the potatoes to the tin and then use a fork to gently crush them until they split but don’t break apart completely. Season liberally with salt and black pepper, then toss gently to coat the potatoes in the oil thoroughly.
  3. Roast the potatoes in the oven for 35–40 minutes or until golden and crispy. You might want to turn them over halfway through the roasting time for maximum ‘crunch’ satisfaction. Meanwhile, crack on with the salsa verde.
  4. Blitz together the mint, coriander, capers, garlic clove, lemon juice and zest, caster sugar, salt and remaining 100ml olive oil. Be careful not to over-mix though, as you do still want some texture in the salsa.
  5. Serve the roasted potatoes with generous dollops of salsa verde.

Ingredients for this recipe can be found here.

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