How was your Christmas Day? Are we all feel sprightly and bright or did we overindulge and feeling in a bit of a festive fug? Well, hopefully you’re somewhere in between and had a great time, however you celebrated. If you did indulge more than you originally intended, please don’t beat yourself up about it. It happens, today is another day and another chance to have a fresh start.
This period between Christmas and the New Year (the Christmas Fallow) can leave you feeling a little ‘what now?’ as it is that strange time when some are back to work, others are not and there’s usually lots of leftover Christmas food to eat – but we’re all starting to feel mighty sick of the excess chocolates and cheeses. With this in mind I thought I’d share some easy ways to use up leftovers in-case you are in the mood to start re-introducing veggies back into your diet and you’re feeling a bit ‘now what?’
Firstly, please don’t throw your leftovers away. Christmas is one the biggest occasions where food is wasted when in fact you needn’t throw anything away: everything can be used up or frozen. I love having a freezer full of repurposed food ready to go for when I’m back to work and short on cooking time.
Second up, if you don’t think you have time to cook something straight away then that’s ok. I understand this is still a busy time for most of us, even if we aren’t back into our regular routines yet. So if that’s you, know that you can freeze most things you may have leftover – with the exception of potatoes as they don’t tend to freeze that well unless they are cooked into a dish (like a stew), but by all means give it a try and see if they hold up for you.
If you do have some time for a spot of cooking however and you’re struggling for inspiration here’s my guide on what I do at home with my leftovers.
If you have leftover…
Turkey – The most versatile of all the leftovers. You can use the turkey any time you would use chicken or white meat. E.g. quesadillas, curries, in a broth, or an omelette or in scrambled eggs.
I like it in epic leftover sandwiches filled with with cold roast potatoes and gravy but you can also try it in risottos, a cold or warm salad (with seasonal ingredients such as kale and pearly barley) and even in a simple pilaff dish.
If you’re not cooking it straight away then portion up and freeze for use in the coming weeks. I freeze in ½ cup portions.
Potatoes – excellent eaten cold in sandwiches but also great in bubble and squeak. Mash up your leftover potatoes (I squash my roasties with a potato masher) and combine with other leftover vegetables such as carrots, parnsips and sprouts before shaping into patties and frying until cripsy on the outside. I like serving mine with bacon or leftover slices of Christmas ham and a fried egg – preferably eaten in front of a festive movie.
As I mentioned above, although they don’t freeze quite so well they will keep in the fridge for a while so don’t fret about having to eat them all immediately.
Sprouts – I love sprouts. It never used to be the case and I appreciate they aren’t for everyone but in the event that you have some left why not turn them into bubble and squeak or shred into a warm salad made with pearly barley (or wild rice) walnuts, kale and dried cranberries. Pair with a simple olive oil and orange juice dressing for a quick and easy veggie lunch or side option.
Root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, swede) – Swede and carrot mash is a staple Christmas dish in our house but if you have any root veggies left over you can turn them into a root veg mash. Simply mash them all together in a bowl, add to a pan and heat up slowly before adding some butter and extra pepper. This makes an excellent side dish although most of it is eaten straight from the pan in my house.
You can also turn leftover root vegetables into a warming winter soup. Add the vegetables to a pan with some stock (chicken or vegetable will work – start with about 800ml for 5 cups of vegetables), heat through and blitz with a blender until smooth and season to taste. I like adding in extra herbs like thyme and rosemary but this is such a free form recipe that you can add as little or as much as you like. This takes all of about 10 minutes so it’s great if you’re in a rush or don’t feel in the mood to cook. It also freezes well so a good one to batch up and keep for later.
Cabbage – if you have any cabbage or greens leftover they can be repurposed into a quick side dish by mixing through with cooked rice and herbs (although cabbage with soy sauce and chilli flakes has been a winner in my house for a few years), thrown into some bubble and squeak mix or even combined with other greens (like broccoli or courgettes) to make an easy green soup.
Stock – If you’re lucky enough to have any leftover stock or you’ve boiled the bones of your turkey and are wondering what to do with the liquid then firstly if you’re not going to cook with it straight away you can can freeze it in 500ml portions (I use old sterilised jam jars) for use in soups in the future. Or try freezing the stock into ice cube trays which can be used to either add instant flavour to dishes or for frying off vegetables – I particularly like it with spinach and kale.
Goose fat – if you roasted your potatoes and vegetables in goose fat and have ended up with some leftover you can decant it into a clean pot (again I use sterilised jam jars) and use it for frying off meats and vegetables over the next few weeks.
Christmas pudding – this can be sliced and frozen as is to be eaten at a later date or if you’re still feeling indulgent you could make Nigella’s Christmas Puddini Bon Bons, recipe here; although a word of warning, they are not healthy in the slightest so definitely more of a treat to share around than one to eat all by yourself.
Wine – Should you find yourself with a few dregs of wine (not enough to drink or perhaps you’re feeling like you could do with a few days off the booze) you can freeze either in ice cube trays (like with the stock) or if you have enough freeze in ½ cup portions. These can be used in stews and risottos in future so you don’t end up cracking open a new bottle when you only need 100ml or so or a small amount to deglaze a pan with.
And that’s the end of today’s post. Thank you as always for reading and I hope this has been helpful for you. I love a bit of ‘tagging and bagging’ as it’s called in my house (using up leftovers by batch cooking and dividing things into portions for freezing).
I love using this time between Christmas and New Year to get a head start on filling up the freezer as I know I’ll be busy in the first days of the new year (and my motivation will be low) as I’m usually straight back into work so anything that gives me a helping hand is always welcome. Early next year I’m planning on joining the next round of the I Quit Sugar Programme so you can expect some posts around that throughout January and February.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any leftover tricks you like to use to minimise your food waste or if you have any questions about the I Quit Sugar Programme. Wishing you all a relaxing and restful few days, I’ll be back at the weekend with some leftover recipes and some end of year reflections.