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Clean out the fridge "gourmet"

Just made a fig prosciutto manchego tart with puff...what creative dishes do you come up with?

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  1. My specialty is Clean Out the Crisper Drawer Curry. Whatever vegetables need to go, plus whatever protein is hanging around, a spoonful of whichever color Thai curry paste strikes my fancy and a can of light coconut milk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jeri L

      Please advise: what brand of light coconut milk do you use? I just had a major fail of a coconut tapioca and can't figure out what went wrong. It was the Thai Kitchen brand. Not a regular user of coconut milk, altho' I love coconut flavor. Gracias.

    2. Jacques Pépin often makes what he calls "fridge soup" with whatever vegetables he finds in the refrigerator, Boils it in water ("Chateau Faucet" - stock is optional), thickens it with a starch.


      My fridge will never be as well stocked with vegetables as the Pépins', but I suppose you could actually buy veggies just to make this soup.

      6 Replies
      1. re: John Francis

        While I'm sure his is much better than my Mother's "Fridge Soup" strikes a slight bit of horror for me. Always canned stewed tomato base, canned green beans and corn, and whatever needed eatting up in the fridge. Even 10+ years since, my stomach turns at the thought of it.

        1. re: Crockett67

          First time I ever made vegetable soup (new bride), I used: canned corn, canned potatoes, canned green beans, canned tomatoes, canned peas, canned carrots, canned mushrooms. Couldn't understand why it tasted so awful!

          1. re: Crockett67

            Oh Crockett67, I feel your pain. My mom did that every Friday night. Regardless what was leftover during the week, in the pot with water and boil til it looks like dishwater. Dinner.I can remember anything from beans and weenie, canned corn or green beans, teryaki pork, hamburgers, pasta, rice.....you name it, it may be in there. What I wouldn't have given for a can of stewed tomatoes to kill the taste. For real. And it continues to make me shudder 23 years later. The scars, oh the scars.

            1. re: suzigirl

              Wow! I think yours was worse than my mothers!?!

              1. re: Crockett67

                I named it international heartburn dinner night cuz ya never knew what kind of globetrotting was gonna be in the pot. I do bet it was worse than your mothers. My mom was a true disaster in the kitchen. I wonder, who has that thread.... my mom was the worst cook...

          2. Frittata!

            At least in the summertime when farmer's market tables groan under the weight of fresh beautiful produce, I can't help myself and always buy more than I should. Peppers, greens, squash, potatoes.. My solution is often to throw it in a pan with a bunch of eggs.

            2 Replies
            1. re: megjp

              This is what I typically do as well.

              1. re: megjp

                Similar to my approach. I typically sautee any leftover veggies, making sure to add plenty of garlic and hot peppers, top with a fried egg and maybe some crema, and enjoy.

              2. Pasta salad. I like to cook up a pound of pasta on a Sunday, and then we both take Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad to work for lunch all week, using whatever is left in fridge. Lots of veggies, cooked meats if available, add something for crunch, and toss when serving with a home-made vinaigrette (creamy or standard). Good stuff: cleans the fridge out, and economical to boot.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: MunchkinRedux

                    I think I'm doing something similar tonight. I have some leftover chicken with mushroom gravy I need to use up. So I was thinking I might saute some onions and maybe some other veg, add some homemade chicken stock to the pan and let it thicken, warm the leftover chicken and gravy with the thickened stock mixture, and then toss in some penne.

                    I've found pasta to be a great base for any number of leftover meats and veggies. It's simple, economical, and almost always comes out tasting pretty damn good. This, and soup, are my favorite ways to use up those leftovers I'm not terribly sure what to do with.

                  2. This is very seasona for me.

                    In the winter, leftovers become pot pie, soup, or pizza toppings
                    In the summer, it all goes into pasta salads, fritattas, or salad toppings.

                    We don't get too wild and crazy when the kitchen is hot...

                    1. Don't know that it's particularly creative or gourmet, but when I have odds & ends of vegetables, none of which are sufficient in quantity for a side, I make a "vegetable medley." Step 1, I steam whatever green vegetables (beans, asparagus cut into pieces, and/or broccoli) I have, plus some carrots trimmed into the size of baby carrots, for about 5 minutes. I then drain those & set them aside. Heat some olive oil and sautee julienned bell peppers, aromatics (onions, scallions) and, if available, sliced mushrooms. Then add steamed vegetables into pan, with some butter, and stir, adding salt & pepper. Sometimes, I cut up red potatoes, and boil them 1st, adding the green veggies & carrots to that pot for the last 5 minutes, and then proceed as above.

                      1. Fried rice.
                        Especially if we have leftover pork. Add assorted vegetables, shredded whatever lettuce is wilting in the crisper drawer, a couple of nice farm-fresh eggs, a little sesame oil..

                        1. I make burritos/wraps using flour tortillas.

                          Tonight it was: merguez sausage, mashed sweet potato (with coriander and nutmeg), avocado/tomato/cilantro salad, goat cheese

                          But I have been known to add any vegetable, cheese, or meat to a "burrito" for a quick dinner that uses up random things in the fridge.

                          1. Chili for me, at least with the meat leftovers. I keep freezing the bits and pieces until I have a gallon ZIplock bag full. I'm big on freezing my leftovers for future inspiration. Just chopped up and froze two grilled hot dogs, for next time I make baked beans or maybe even split pea soup. Also love what I call Funky Rice, which is leftover Chinese takeout rice, with whatever liquids I need to get rid of (a bit of juice, the half can of coconut milk , gravy from braising pork), then whatever vegetables need to go, and to top it off, canned beans. And usually have a partial can of some type of beans frozen on standby. I keep lots of tiny containers of all this in the bottom drawer of my freezer.

                            Otherwise, as already mentioned, always frittata, or sometimes quiche. In the winter, soup, soup, soup. Nothing escapes my clutches!

                            1. Clean out night usually results in a crazy topping pizza, a big salad, a fruit bowl and morning smoothies. Should give you some indication of what's in there...

                              Leftover steak, fish or chicken goes in eggs, sandwiches or mixed for a bread topping.

                              1. A Japanese Hot Pot is perfect for a cleaning-out-the fridge meal. There are many variations on this theme so you can use anything you have on hand: left over cooked meat, raw and/or cooked vegetables, a starch or two - or not, broth of any kind, All this produces a flavorful and comforting finished dish. I was introduced to Sukiyaki during the Japanese COTM and have been making it frequently ever since.

                                Here's a basic recipe but as I said, you can use whatever you want...

                                1. If there's some kind of meat, some soup stock (which there usually is) and greens, I'll throw in some tortellini and it's suddenly soup.

                                  1. Frittate (plural) of course. They are wonderful for using leftovers as well as fresh ingredients. I usually make a frittata in a 10½" cast iron skillet using the equivalent of 9 eggs. Three eggs are fresh and rehydrated powdered egg whites make up the other 6 eggs.

                                    No frittata flipping is involved because the culinary process starts on the ceramic cooktop until the bottom of the egg mixture appears to be set, and then the skillet is transferred to the broiler to be finished.

                                    The ingredients usually are diced celery and onion, cooked potatoes, sometimes pasta like ditalini, dice fresh peperoncini (hot peppers) or hot pepper sauce. Other ingredients can also be used. Shredded or grated cheese is added after the frittata is done and removed from the broiler, and the cheese is allowed to melt. Take note, DO NOT ADD A TOPPING OF CHEESE WHILE THE FRITTATA IS UNDER THE BROILER. IT WILL BURN. How do I know that? I know that because I once added the cheese before the frittata was finished...but only once.