Lovely Leftovers and Sensational Scraps

Open the fridge on any given day and there they are: leftovers. The remains of great meals of the past taunt us to eat them before they expire. Why do we even save leftovers? Sometimes they seem like more trouble than they’re worth. Still, there are those of us that just cannot bear to part with anything edible.

For many of us, leftovers simply make the perfect next-day lunch after a quick zap in the microwave. Parents of teens will insist that they are the only way to fill bottomless stomachs (if there are any leftovers at all!).

growing veggies in jarsSaving scraps is nothing new. Hard times often reinforce the need for frugality and we, as humans, are historically programmed to store food (and more recently, toilet paper.) This adaptation was a huge part of our evolution and survival as a species.

Fast forward several thousand years to 2021. It’s a pandemic Friday night and stir fry with a green side salad is what’s for dinner. As usual, you over-measure the rice and prep way too many vegetables for the stir fry. You have also generated a plethora of kitchen scraps like carrot peels, broccoli stalks, the root end of green onions and that root ball from the “living lettuce” used to make the salad.

The scraps could very well hit the compost bin; but, they could also be repurposed into something much more – like a flavour booster in soup stocks (just throw them in the freezer until you’re ready for them.) Plus, any “scrap” with roots attached is a new beginning.

The simplest vegetable to re- grow is the green (or spring) onion. Place the white bottoms (roots attached) in a jar or glass with water and within a day you will begin to see green growth. After 10-12 days, the greens will be as long as the original, though they will be less robust.

Similarly, the root end of the ‘living lettuce’ can be encouraged to yield new growth. The lettuce will not grow to its full potential unless it is eventually replanted in soil or is provided with liquid nutrients. After 10 days of growth without extra measures, the amount of lettuce grown is approximately enough to use on a sandwich. Still, it’s a great start for the lettuce plant when the final destination is a sunny spot in the garden.

Now, back to those leftovers sitting in the fridge. The best way to reuse cold rice is to repurpose it into fried rice. Fried rice is the ultimate fridge clean-out dish and finding a container of leftover rice is almost like winning the fridge lottery. The best part is, you can add any ingredients you like to the rice, including leftover stir fry!

This Spam and pineapple fried rice recipe is a delicious way to repurpose leftover rice. Add in juicy pineapple cubes, some staple items from the pantry or freezer and you can turn those leftovers into an even tastier dish than the original.

Making fried rice is a life skill everyone should learn. It’s a classic Chinese one-pan meal that takes minutes to prepare. There’s no one tried-and-true recipe, only helpful guiding tips and approximate measurements. That is what makes this dish a life skill rather than a recipe.

Perfectly cooked medium-grained day-old rice is essential to this recipe. The rice grains should be plump, but not overly moist. Additionally, only the surface area of the rice should be dry and not the entire grain.

Check out Bernice’s Spam and Pineapple Fried Rice Recipe.