A little planning on the weekend makes for easy meals from the fridge all week long.
I love an old-fashioned Sunday supper, the kind I remember eating when my family assembled at my grandfather Dino’s house for a multicourse dinner with lots of friends and family gathered around the table. There was always a pasta on the menu, and often it was served tossed with the pan juices from a large piece of braised meat— a pot roast, essentially—that would be sliced and served as the second course.
At the time what I enjoyed most about those meals was the excitement of being with all of my family in my grandmother Nonna’s big house, where exotic and interesting people often turned up at the table. As a working mom with limited time to cook Monday through Friday, I love the fact that this kind of slow-cooked meat dish is a simply prepared meal that more or less cooks itself in the oven and provides enough leftovers to make a couple of quick-and-easy weeknight meals. Knowing I have the makings of a meal already cooked and ready to be repurposed into a brand-new dish takes away the stress of feeding my family when I’m scheduled down to the last half hour.
I hear from a lot of you that “leftovers” is a dirty word in your household and, frankly, that just baffles me. I grew up eating meals that my mother cleverly devised to stretch the remnants of a roast or other leftover proteins. We kids loved it when she melted mozzarella in a skillet and served it over warmed marinara sauce with pieces of leftover meat sprinkled on top; other times she stirred bits of meat and veggies into a freshly made béchamel and baked it until golden and crusty on top. Casserole, Italian style. And nothing about either approach screamed leftovers.
Maybe it’s just the word “leftover” itself that suggests something soggy and lifeless and sad on your plate. Let’s put that association to rest and embrace the two dishes that follow as makeovers or reinventions—or just delicious, deeply flavored food you can dish up within an hour of walking in the door. And if you don’t tell anyone they’re eating Sunday’s supper again, I bet they’ll never suspect a thing.