Ratatouille Leftovers

You guys know I can’t pass up an opportunity to use up leftovers in a new dish. It’s part of the fun in making food in the first place. So when I had a big pot of delicious ratatouille left after dinner, I put on my superhero cape and got to work.

I use no-boil or “oven ready” lasagna noodles when I can find them. Two reasons: time-saving and I don’t boil the skin of my hands off by handling hot slippery noodles. When possible, I assemble my lasagna the moment I know I’ll have leftovers. Having a large lasagna pan with a lid makes that super-easy. Just slap it together and refrigerate or freeze it until you’re ready for it to bake.

I do keep some jars of pasta sauce on hand, although it’s super-easy to make your own from fresh tomatoes or cans of tomatoes or tomato sauce. What I use depends on the time I have and what flavors I want in my lasagna. As a fair warning, I LOVE garlic. So a classic Napoletana made with roasted garlic is usually my go-to kind of sauce (Yes, I know Barilla isn’t exactly high-end).

Ratatouille Lasagna

  • 1 pkg oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1-2 C ratatouille
  • 1 recipe tofu ricotta
  • 1 (14-16 oz) jar pasta sauce (or 2 C of your own devising)
  • 2 C kale or spinach, washed, dried, sautéed
  • Daiya mozzarella shreds

In the bottom of a 9×13 casserole or lasagna pan, spread about 1/4C of pasta sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles. Top with the kale and half the ricotta and a sprinkle of Daiya. Add a layer of noodles and coat with sauce. Spread with ratatouille and top with Daiya and some sauce. Layer with noodles. Spread with the rest of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with Daiya. Top with noodles. Use remaining sauce to completely cover the noodles. Sprinkle  with more Daiya. Cover pan with foil.

You can refrigerate this up to two days, freeze for (probably no longer than) a month, or bake it immediately for an hour in a 350F oven. Remove foil during last 10 minutes of baking.

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Leftovers Challenge Finale

Follow along as I answer a challenge by Veggietorials to come up with five dishes, each using the leftovers from the previous dish

Dish 5: Tofuladas

tofuladas

Stephanie (trans-planted.com) has a killer-looking recipe for enchiladas, so I was really glad I could satisfy my photo-induced craving with these.

I used tofu as my filling. If you’re intimidated by tofu, I gotta tell you: Don’t be. Preparing the tofu for this recipe is ridiculously easy.

I like to use Nasoya tofu, and I chose their organic extra-firm for this. It’s usually found in the produce section by the refrigerated dressings or with all the deli-meat analogues and is packaged in water.

To maximize the texture and flavor, peel off the plastic covering, drain the water out of the package, and slice the tofu into two thin rectangles. Wrap these in foil, wax paper, freezer paper, or paper towels and place in a baking dish in your freezer. Leave them in there at least overnight. They’ll change to a yellow or tan color when frozen. Remove the tofu from the freezer and allow it to thaw on your countertop or in your fridge during the day. Once it’s thawed, you’ll be able to gently squeeze the water out of it like a sponge. Then, tear the tofu into strips or crumble it into a bowl.

After draining, tofu will absorb whatever flavor you want it to. We’re going to give our tofu a nice massage and a quick bake to lock in the flavor.

Tofu Filling

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine

  • 1/2 – 1 T creamy natural peanut butter
  • 3 T soy sauce, bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, etc.
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Pour over the tofu and gently squeeze it into the pieces. They’ll soak up the mixture very well. Then, sprinkle the tofu with:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp chile powder

Gently stir until the pieces are coated with a little powder. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. If you chose to crumble your tofu, you may choose to simply dry-fry it in a pan on your stove to remove any excess moisture.

Enchilada Sauce

  • ~2 C blended totcho soup (or 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce**)
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa

**Add these additional ingredients only if using tomato sauce instead of the blended soup:

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

Mix well and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally. If you used the tomato sauce, blend the enchilada sauce once it is cool.

Tofuladas

Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 1 recipe enchilada sauce
  • 8 (8″) whole wheat tortillas
  • 8 oz tofu filling
  • 1/2 C southwest relish (solids only)
  • vegan cheese (optional)

Add a little sauce to the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan and spread it to create a thin layer. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, smear a little enchilada sauce on a tortilla — just enough to change its color. Place sauce-side up on your countertop or a plate (or your kitchen scale, if you’re anal like me).

Add 2T (1 oz) of the tofu mixture a third of the way towards the center of the tortilla. Top with 1T (1/2 oz) of the relish. Add a sprinkle of vegan cheese (1/8 oz) and roll. Place seam-side-down in the sauced dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Top with enchilada sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

I hope you enjoyed this fun journey as much as I did, and that maybe you’ll be looking at your leftovers a little differently from now on — the possibilities are amazing. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and let us all know when you do!

What is your favorite food to enjoy as leftovers?

Leftovers Challenge: Dish 4

Follow along as I answer a challenge by Veggietorials to come up with five dishes, each using the leftovers from the previous dish

Dish 4: Southwest Totcho Soup

TotchoSoupIf you’ve been following along, you’ve seen the evolution of these dishes from simple roasted sweet potatotes, to gnocchi, to totchos. And now, a soup. Because, after all, gnocchi are just dumplings with a fancy name and a coat of lipstick.

I was a little uncertain that this would turn out properly, and I’ve never been a fan of southwest-flavored soups (why not just make chili, for heaven’s sake?), so I was pleasantly surprised by this. I don’t know if I would make it again just for itself (again, I’m a chili girl), but it was a fun way to use up the leftovers from the totchos, and it looked absolutely beautiful! Before you ask, yes it tasted great, too.

I’m glad I had fried the gnocchi, since the crispy exterior allowed them to soak in the soup for a little while without becoming slimy.

  • 1 C vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C spicy hot tomato juice (like Spicy V8)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 C fried gnocchi (about 20)
  • 1/2 C southwest relish, solids only

Combine broth, juice, and water in a pot and simmer on medium heat. Add the gnocchi, bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to a simmer on medium-low. Add the relish and allow to simmer about 5 minutes, until heated through.

This makes only about 2-3 servings. I ate a little and set aside about 2 C of the soup (gnocchi and all) for my final dish. It was a little more involved, but totally worth the effort!

Leftovers Challenge: Dish 3

Follow along as I answer a challenge by Veggietorials to come up with five dishes, each using the leftovers from the previous dish

Dish 3: Gnocchi Totchos

GnocchiTotchos

The mastermind behind Whollyvegan, Jen, posted an amazing photo of “Tot”chos to Instagram. And then Cobi (Veggietorials) posted a couple totchos photos. It was torture. But, at least I knew how to satisfy the need with some tasty leftovers.

A quick story about why I was sure this would work. Once upon a time, there was a very lazy person. This person didn’t want to change out of their pajamas but really wanted some tots. Like, Napoleon-Dynamite-sized-craving. But this person had used all their potatoes making mashed potatoes. So, rather than change out of their pajamas and go to the store like a sane person, this individual instead decided to toss some flour into their mashed potatoes, make some gnocchi, and fry those suckas up. Long story short, it worked! We won’t go into the fact that this person also had to make homemade ketchup to enjoy their tots properly…

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I knew the gnocchi were going to need some fixin’s to be more nacho-esque, so I whipped up a favorite standby for some flay-vah!

Southwest Relish

  • 1 (10oz) can Hot Rotel Tomatoes w/chiles, undrained
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T minced garlic (I used freeze-dried, but fresh is great, too!)
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 6 oz sweet corn (anything but canned)

Mix, cover, and refrigerate.

Preparation of the gnocchi for totchos couldn’t be any easier — just add a few to a hot oiled pan and fry until they have a nice crispy exterior. Blot any excess oil from them by draining on paper towels. Serve up the gnocchi tots with the relish and any vegan queso or sour cream you have hanging around. Easy or what?

I can’t wait to share the next dish with you!

Leftovers Challenge: Dish 2

Follow along as I answer a challenge by Veggietorials to come up with five dishes, each using the leftovers from the previous dish

Dish 2: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi

Of all the pastas, gnochhi are probably the easiest to make. They require no special equipment or skills and you can even make small quantities of them from leftover mashed potatoes. All these babies are is a glorified dumpling, and dumplings are surprisingly versatile!

I pulled out my neglected cheese grater, selected the side with the large circles, and began grating my sweet potatoes. If you have a potato ricer (lucky!), feel free to use that.

  • 2 C grated roasted sweet potato
  • 1/4 C pesto
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour

Combine first 4 ingredients with 2 C flour and knead until incorporated. Add flour 1/2 C at a time until dough holds its shape and is only slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a rough square. Using a butter-knife or bench scraper, cut a portion of dough.

Roll into a long log about as thick as your thumb. Cut little gnocchi “pillows” about every inch along the log.

You can leave the gnocchi as they are, or, use your thumb to press them against the tines of a fork. One side will have an indentation from your thumb, the other will be ridged. Or, you can do it hurriedly by simply mashing the fork against the gnocchi on the countertop. Set aside your gnocchi on a floured surface. Continue cutting dough, rolling logs, cutting pillows, etc., until you’ve used all the dough. If you’d like, you can freeze some of the gnocchi by placing them in a single layer on a floured or parchment-lined baking sheet. Just put them in the freezer overnight and put the frozen gnocchi in a container the next day.

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To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the gnocchi 10-15 at a time, giving a gentle stir to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Gnocchi are done when they float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to remove them.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, top with vegan parmesan or your favorite sauce and enjoy!

What happens to these gnocchi? Tune in tomorrow!

Leftovers Challenge

When I posted about Soup-isotto-patty-wiches, I didn’t realize I was opening up a can of worms. Cobi of Veggietorials came up with a dastardly challenge and I couldn’t resist (after all, I wouldn’t have to get out of my pajamas).

The challenge?

Post 5 food photos in a row. First photo can be of any dish you like. The next 4 photos must incorporate the leftovers from the previous dish. So if you make a pot of chili first, the chili needs to go in the next dish. If you make chili nachos next, chili nachos must go in the next and so on.

Deal.

I spent a little bit of time planning, working out what I could morph each dish into while trying to satisfy all my instagram-induced cravings. I drew out a handy flow-chart and made my shopping list. Afterwards, craziness ensued. Absolutely delicious craziness.

I’ll be dividing the dishes into a series of posts, otherwise, you may get tired of scrolling!

Dish 1: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Walnut Pesto

Dish1

I wanted to start off simply for a few reasons.

  1. Plenty of room to add extras
  2. Vegan food doesn’t have to be complicated
  3. I ate a lot in the few days leading up to this. Keeping it simple made my tummy happier with me.

So, these humble potatoes were simply roasted in foil in my oven, skinned, and given a little dab of pesto. They made an excellent and easy breakfast. Don’t know how to roast a potato? Okay. You can do it in the oven or the microwave and it’s practically foolproof. Whichever way you choose, you’re going to gently scrub your potatoes to remove any dirt and pierce them with a fork a few times.

If going the microwave path, just place your potato on a microwave-safe plate, cover with a paper towel, and microwave on high for 5 minutes, turning once. If you want to cook several potatoes at once, just add 2-3 minutes for each potato.

For oven roasting, individually wrap those taters in foil and place directly on the oven rack. Bake at 375-400F for 30-40 minutes. If I have the oven that hot already, I generally toss a potato or two in there just on principle. They make excellent quick meals or additions to so many things.

Once potatoes are done, just let them cool 2-3 minutes, until they’re still hot but not ridiculously so. Then, just split them open and enjoy, or, top them with your favorite fixins’. Sweet potatoes are great in that they swing both ways (sweet or savory).

Because of my aforementioned reasons, I kept it simple. I still had leftovers from making Walnut Salad chillaxin’ in my fridge, so pulled them out to incorporate into a pesto.

  • 2-3 T raw walnut salad
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C fresh cilantro
  • drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Process the first four ingredients until finely chopped. Add olive oil and process until combined.

In all, I roasted four sweet potatoes. I ate most of one and packed some in the husband’s lunch, at least confident that the next two dishes would turn out really well. I’m happy to say that they did! Keep your eyes peeled for Dish #2!

Soup-isotto-patty-wiches

I have this problem with leftovers. Which is really bad. You know that Mock-a-leekie Soup? I’ve had two bowls. One for quality control and one for the photo I used. That was it. My husband isn’t much of a soup fan, so that leaves me with not a lot of options. I was worried I might have to freeze portions of it and take up precious freezer space. And then I organized my pantry.

And found this.

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I thought, “Oh, wow. Risotto sounds so delicious right now.” Of course, that laziness “problem” set in. I had used all my stock making Mock-a-Leekie, as well as most of the risotto-worthy vegetables, and I was not changing out of pajamas for this. I got out the soup and a slotted spoon and set to work.

Lazyman Risotto

  • 1/2 C soup vegetables
  • 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 – 2 C stock or broth from soup (add water if necessary)
  • 2 T nutritional yeast

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the vegetables and rice. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 C of the stock, simmer and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Continue adding stock in 1/2 C increments and stirring until rice reaches desired consistency.

Of course, the risotto was delicious and really hit the spot that day. But what was I supposed to do with those leftovers? Cue inspiration in the form of Veggietorials again. She has this amazing recipe for kimchi fried rice balls. If she could do it with fried rice, why couldn’t I do it with risotto? Answer: no reason whatsoever.

Risotto Patties

  • 1 C risotto
  • 1/2 C prepared Vegg yolk
  • flour
  • bread crumbs or panko

Divide risotto into 1/4C measurements and flatten into round patties. Dredge in flour, Vegg, and bread crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Pan-fry in a little oil or bake at 400F for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

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The risotto patties didn’t last the day, but there was still soup in the container. Now what?

An Instagram friend forced me (right!) to try a recipe for some sweet potato rolls the other day. They were really amazing and got me thinking. What other vegetables could I purée to make bread dough? You know where this is going.

Most of my soup broth went to making risotto, so there were mostly potatoes, carrots, and leeks hanging out in my container. The vegetable purée should be a little more watery than mashed potatoes — go ahead and experiment!

Soup Sandwich(bread)

  • 1 C puréed soup
  • 1 C warm (110F) water
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together salt, seasonings, and 2 1/2 C of flour. Make a well in the center. Add puréed soup and the foamy yeast mixture. Stir just so most of the flour is incorporated. Add 1/2 C flour. Knead, adding more flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands and bowl as needed, until smooth and elastic.

Form dough into ball. Oil the bowl and roll the dough ball to fully coat. Cover and let rise somewhere warm and away from drafts for 1 hour.

Once risen, you can roll the dough into a log and bake in a loaf pan, or, divide for dinner rolls, soup bowls, etc. I chose to divide my dough into four large pieces and shape into round mini-loaves for bread bowls. Whichever you choose, cover the dough and let rise 20 minutes.

Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes.

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Take that, leftovers! Oh. And I still have some soup left. Guess I’ll use my bread bowls with that. After I stir the leftover risotto into the soup. Soup Inception!!