At such times, the answer, my answer is: pizza. Pizza is the perfect vehicle for combining the stray portions of several meals ... with the added bonus that, ultimately, you feel like you're eating an entirely new meal. Sweet!
Such was the case last week, when I was itching to use the remains of that roasted zucchini and tomato dish, and the 1/2 cup or so of left-over chicken sausage and peppers. Ultimately, I decided to go with a white pizza, which turned out to be an inspired idea, indeed!
I took the easy way out and used purchased, prepared pizza dough - and to that, added a garlic-y white sauce, some seasoned low-fat ricotta cheese, the zucchini and tomatoes, the bits of sausage and peppers, and topped the whole thing off with shredded low-fat mozzarella and some Parmesan cheese. It was spectacular!
I'm not so much giving you a pizza recipe here today, as I am encouraging you to think creatively about your use of left-overs. I will, however, include a recipe for the garlic sauce and for the seasoned ricotta. The rest is up to you. You're smart, you'll figure it out.
White Garlic Sauce:
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 1/2 teaspoons flour (I used white whole wheat)
- 1 cup of fat-free Half and Half, at room temperature
- 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, and saute stirring, for one minute. Add the flour and stir well to combine with the oils, saute for one minute.
2. Add the room temperature half and half and immediately raise the heat to high, whisk well to incorporate the roux with the liquid. Bring the mixture to a full boil and let boil, while whisking constantly, for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens and is reduced to the consistency of Alfredo sauce. The thickened sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low when properly thickened.
3. Add a pinch of Kosher salt, some freshly ground black pepper to taste, and a grating of fresh nutmeg if desired. Add 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and whisk to melt into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more of anything you like. Remove from heat, cover the sauce pan and reserve until pizza time. (Hint, be sure to whisk the sauce again prior to use to smooth as it may thicken further as it cools.)
Seasoned Ricotta Cheese for White Pizza:
- one 15 ounce container of part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir well until thoroughly incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more of whatever you like. Reserve until ready to make the pizza, chilled in fridge if necessary.
Some rough directions for pizza assembly: spread crust with an even layer of white garlic sauce, top with dollops of seasoned ricotta cheese, using a fork to spread ricotta in an even layer. Pile on your pizza toppings (meaning use up your left-overs!) then top with a handful of shredded low-fat mozzarella and a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a pre-heated oven, according to pizza dough directions ... or your own pizza wisdom.
Of course, once you've turned the lonely bits and pieces in your fridge into a new and exciting meal, you'll sometimes - ok, often - end up with left-overs of your left-overs. Worse things could happen.