Catering Leftovers

IMG_4025A few weeks ago I successfully catered my first event for M. Karim Boulos’ Campaign Launch. Seeing as it was indeed my first time and I was worried about not having enough food, and big surprise, I ended up with too much food! Some leftovers stayed behind as snacks for volunteers and some came home with me, namely the roasted red pepper dip and chimichurri that I had made immense quantities of. After using them on sandwiches, grilled veggies and meat throughout the week, like most people I became bored of having the same thing over and over. 

I was at that point of revisiting the essence of Kristel’s Kitchen and realized that so far I hadn’t been keeping true to the idea of sharing my credo of reduce, reuse and recycle in my kitchen. Yes I recycle – quite diligently in fact, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. We’re talking leftovers and going beyond the “oh no not that again” feeling we often tolerate from the desire to not waste food. As a way to liberate myself from the repetitiveness of sandwiches and whatever was left in my fridge, here is what I came up with: 

Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti with Sautéed Veggies

  • Leftover roasted red pepper dip
  • Whole wheat spaghetti or any pasta of your liking (enough for two)
  • Any leftover veggies in your fridge
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add your garlic and veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste and sauté until tender. In my fridge I had leftover tomatoes, spinach, asparagus and leek. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then strain and transfer back into the pot. Add the leftover roasted red pepper dip and thin out the mixture with the reserved pasta, water as needed. If you happen to not have enough roasted pepper dip to coat the pasta, do not panic. I recommend always keeping a small can of tomato paste or sauce in your pantry. You can open the can and simple add as many extra spoonfuls as needed to coat the pasta. *Got some leftover in the can? To keep for next time, transfer the remainder into an ice tray and freeze. Once frozen you can store the tomato cubes in resealable plastic bags or plastic container. Serve onto plates and top with the sautéed veggies. Nothing’s simpler and nothing goes to waste!

Chimichurri Seared Scallops

  • Leftover chimichurri
  • Large scallops
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Scallops seem oh-so-very decadent, and they most definitely can be. They can also be enjoyed more casually. Sure they are individually expensive but if you get one each it can be a nice little treat on top of a salad as an appetizer or on top of the pasta as I have done here. 

You want to start by rinsing the scallops and patting them completely dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel works too. The reason scallops need to be prepared this way first is because if they are not dry enough when you put them into the pan, they will boil rather than sear and hence will become rubbery. Nobody wants to eat a rubbery scallop. Add salt and pepper to both sides of the scallop and place into the hot pan. Scallops take no time at all to cook so you need to act fast. You want a nice caramelized color on the bottom before flipping it over and the flesh to be more opaque less than half-way up its sides. At this point, flip the scallop and add a spoonful of chimichurri to the already seared side while it finishes cooking. Remove immediately from heat and place onto your dish.