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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leftovers Again??

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What’s for dinner tonight? The answer is simple once you’ve mastered the quickstep approach in meal preparation, transforming tiresome leftovers into rock star dinners. Even if you can’t cook, have fun with it because these ideas are easy enough from start to finish. There’s nothing worse than finally sitting down after a long strenuous workday than to a repeat-offender of last night’s meal. Practically willing it to disappear, those Houdini techniques at dinnertime sometimes fall short due to rushing lifestyles and little time. You certainly don’t have to juggle yet another bag of groceries to achieve creative-greatness in the kitchen. So relax… open the refrigerator, allow its contents to inspire your inner-chef, and reinvent those weary leftovers. Everyone will think you’ve spent the entire day cooking, and only you will be the wiser.

Like many, the thought of food lingering from previous meals stirs visual doldrums that need not be recurring. With gas prices on the rise, ordinary provisions can become extraordinary cuisine without spending another dime at the local supermarket. Growing up, there were certainly times when money was sparse, and the invaluable lesson instilled was always the same, 'waste not want not'. When it comes to leftovers, anyone can present a versatile delicacy of options for turning just about anything into a forgivable next day feast. Sounds strange… but, in most cases, it’s actually true. Need proof? An American culinary staple is and will forever remain the hamburger, and while employing leftovers may seem a difficult task… those burgers can easily become a savory meat sauce for any pasta dish.

Pasta Surprise

Ingredients yield approximately 4 servings depending on ‘leftover’ amounts.

1 16 oz package of durum wheat or whole wheat spaghetti

Leftover hamburgers

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 -16 oz cans plum tomatoes

1 medium tomato, diced

1 tsp freshly chopped parsley

1 tsp freshly chopped oregano

¼ tsp garlic

3 basil leaves, chopped

Salt/pepper (to taste)

Grated Romano cheese (to taste)

Shred hamburger and place in a large skillet, stirring in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to remoisten meat. Cook on medium heat setting for 3-5 minutes or long enough to heat. Add plum tomatoes and diced tomatoes while blending in herbs/seasonings to enhance flavor. (This easy recipe is still ideal no matter what spices you have in your refrigerator and pantry.)

Bring meat sauce to boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer, allowing flavors to meld. Stir occasionally while preparing spaghetti. After draining al dente (firm) noodles. Place spaghetti in saute pan with sauce and toss, place on large serving platter, and sprinkle with grated Romano cheese. Voila, you’ve just reinvented your leftover hamburgers into a delectable Italian dish.

Still hungry?

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