Leftovers For Lunch

I think the word leftovers evokes a lot of moans and groans, but leftovers don't have to be a bad thing. Just check out this fabulous casserole The Diva on a Diet made just the other day over on Beach Eats!

It's one of my goals not to waste so much food. I make amazing dinners on Saturdays -- my only day off from work -- but then just let things sit in the fridge and end up getting takeout during the week due to lack of time and sometimes laziness. I know what you're thinking -- leftovers are quick and easy, so I must really be short on time and energy. And I am! But I also like to eat my leftovers in a different form after a couple of days.

Take my most recent load of leftovers. After making dinner for my family this past weekend (which I'll tell you all about as soon as my mom sends me her pictures -- hint, hint, Mom), I had a slew of stuff in the fridge like peppers, artichokes, pepperoni, Gruyere, provolone, hummus, asparagus, celery, carrots, and so on. After a couple nights of snacking on veggies dipped in hummus or dressing and cheese and pepperoni on crackers, I decided I wanted to do something different with the rest of what was left.

For me one of the easiest (not to mention tastiest) things to do is whip up some sort of pasta dish. I even contemplated making an omelet, but when I remembered I had an open box of orzo in the pantry, I found myself really wanting a pasta dish. So I took out some leftover peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, an onion, garlic confit cloves, Gruyere, and thyme, as well as the orzo, olive oil, and sherry vinegar, and put together a delicious mixture for lunch.

I'll tell you what I made, but you can get creative and use what you have hanging around. Note that this recipe is not very exact, but that's because it doesn't have to be. Add a little of this and a little of that until you have something you like. Try using different veggies, different herbs, another kind of vinegar, a different cheese... it's totally up to you.

Leftover-Laden Orzo


1/2 cup orzo
olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic confit cloves or garlic cloves, minced or chopped
handful of colored pepper strips, chopped
picked thyme leaves from 2 sprigs
5 cherry or assorted tomatoes, diced (include seeds or not based on personal preference)
handful of steamed asparagus stalks, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
splash of sherry vinegar
handful of grated Gruyere
salt and pepper


Prepare the orzo according to the instructions on the package. If you are good at multitasking, start your water heating and work on the rest of the recipe, throwing the orzo in once the water boils. If not, make the orzo first and stir a little olive oil into it so it doesn't get sticky while you work on the rest of the recipe.

Heat a couple drizzles of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the diced onion, and saute until translucent. Throw in your garlic, peppers, and thyme. Saute for a few minutes, until the peppers start to soften. Toss in the tomatoes and asparagus, and cook for another minute or so, just until heated through.

Stir the cooked orzo in with the veggies and add a splash of sherry vinegar and about a handful of Gruyere. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.

It's very quick and very easy but so very flavorful and interesting! This was definitely a winning combination in my book... and also according to The Flavor Bible.

I've mentioned this book a little in the past. I find it really informative, and I'm hoping that it helps me to become a better, more creative cook. It teaches you what flavors work together and how to combine different flavors. So what works well together in this dish?

Asparagus and garlic
Asparagus and olive oil
Asparagus and thyme
Asparagus and sherry vinegar

Bell peppers and garlic
Bell peppers and onions
Bell peppers and olive oil
Bell peppers and pasta
Bell peppers and thyme
Bell peppers and tomatoes
Bell peppers and sherry vinegar

Tomatoes and bell peppers
Tomatoes and thyme
Tomatoes and sherry vinegar
Tomatoes and onions
Tomatoes and pasta

That is a lot of stuff! And I didn't even look everything up. I really love searching through this book after I've created something to see how I did with my pairings and combos.

Oh, and don't forget to pack up the leftovers and take them for lunch the next day! Gotta love leftover leftovers.

What do you like to do with leftovers? Do you have any creative ideas to share?