We all find ourselves with lots of leftovers after celebrations are over and these recipes are as good as the original meals.

When we were young, leftovers were always used up by our clever and frugal grandmothers until they were all consumed. The younger generation today seem quite reluctant to finish off meals from the previous day, but here are some recipes that could change their minds.

Photos: Gino Galea and Stefan StafracePhotos: Gino Galea and Stefan Stafrace

Kawlata Stew

You will need:
1 boneless ham, hock or left-over gammon pieces, cut into chunks
1 large onion,
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/5 cabbage shredded, optional
1/4 cauliflower
1 zucchini
1 local sausage, skin off
250g chopped pumpkin
1 kohl rabi, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup barley
2 large tins tomatoes
2 spoons tomato paste
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 tomatoes chopped
4 potatoes, washed, chopped with skin on
Bay leaf
One glass of wine (I used white)
Olive oil
Capers and parsley to garnish (optional)
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
A squeeze of lemon, to serve

I serve this stew with couscous, but you can also serve it with more potatoes or with mash in the cold months. Use quantities as it suits you. There is no magic number, it is the combination of flavours and the tenderness of the ham, hock or gammon that make this dish a winner.

I use boneless hock (xikel) and this recipe is also great with leftover gammon pieces.

Use a large ovenproof pot to sweat the onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Add the garlic, then the hock pieces. Cook them on low heat. Add the vegetables, then the tomatoes. Cook on very low heat and stir.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the bay leaf, herbs and the wine. Add the potatoes. Mix in the barley. Remove from heat. Break up the sausage meat and drop it in bits on top. Cover and cook in a pre-heated oven at 160ºC for 1 hour 15 minutes. After 35 minutes in the oven check progress and add some hot water if necessary. Do not let it dry out.

Season. Remove and allow to rest covered for five to 10 minutes. Garnish with capers and chopped parsley.

A quiche-like sandwich bake

You will need:
A deep oven-proof dish prepared with baking spray; I use 26 cm diameter or similar.
Enough sandwiches to cover bottom of dish – I use ham and cheese
6 eggs
125ml single cream
125ml Greek yoghurt
150ml milk
250g Gruyère or cheddar cheese, finely grated
A pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
A generous grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
100g crushed cornflakes (optional)

This is the best way to use up all those party sandwiches in a bake that is so quick and easy. I often make sandwiches specifically to prepare this bake and you will find that even young children will come back for more.

Lay the prepared sandwiches on the ovenproof dish. Beat the eggs, cream, Greek yoghurt, milk and half the cheese, nutmeg, smoked paprika if you are using it and salt and pepper and pour them over the sandwiches. Refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Spread the rest of the grated cheese and crushed cornflakes on the top of the soaked sandwiches and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden. Serve hot or cold.

Chicken and Barley Stew

For my stew I used:
500g cooked chicken pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small broccoli head, cut up into large pieces
1/4 cauliflower, cut up into small pieces
1 chayote, peels and chopped
A handful of chopped parsley
1 spoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 chopped carrots
3 potatoes, chopped
2 litres chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
150g pearl barley
1 glass of wine
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cans chopped tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped to garnish

This is literally a what’s-in-the-fridge stew using seasonal fresh vegetables. You will need a kilo of vegetables to every 500g of meat used. Add a grain of pulse, and the result is a great home-cooked meal that can be prepared the day before as it improves when left overnight in the fridge. It is such a good feeling to know you have a meal waiting for you after a day at work.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cook onions until transparent, add the chicken pieces, then the rest of the vegetables (not the tinned tomatoes) and herbs. Add the wine, stir and after five minutes add the stock or water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Then stir in barley and chopped tomatoes. Stir, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Check that the vegetables and barley are cooked. Do not let the liquid dry up, add more, if necessary, especially if you are going to eat it the next day as the barley will keep soaking up the juices overnight.

Season to taste if required. Heat up when ready to use.

Spinach and Cheesy bake

You will need:
500g cooked meat or vegetables or a mix of both (whatever is left over, chicken, beef, pork or just vegetables
200g spinach, barely cooked
2 tbsps chopped fresh herbs of your choice
2 tbsps Gran Padano
150g grated mozzarella
150g grated cheddar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yoghurt
A grating of nutmeg
1 clove garlic or use minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped and sautéed in a touch of olive oil or use freeze dried onions if you are in a rush
Salt and pepper Cherry tomatoes and more fresh herbs to garnish

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Chop the cooked meats and vegetables into bite-sized pieces and mix without breaking up too much.

Use a non-stick baking spray. Place the chopped meat and vegetables neatly on the dish. Cook at 180ºC for half an hour. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together, but do not over mix. Keep a spoon of each cheese to sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for half an hour.

Take out of the oven and top with cherry tomato halves. Return to the oven for another half an hour.

Take out of oven, garnish with more fresh herbs and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to firm up.

You can watch Lea cook on TVM2 every weekday afternoon and follow her blog www.goodfoodeveryday.wordpress.com

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