Monday, October 08, 2012

vegan mofo :: the sexy leftover experiment

Try looking at your leftovers in new ways.
Here, I've combined this week's leftovers with fresh spinach and roasted red peppers to make a pretty verrine appetizer.

This month's theme is going Back to Basics, and I can't think of anything more basic than how to reinvent leftovers. It's a problem everyone shares: vegan or omnivore; single or married with 6 kids; city or country. No one wants to waste food, especially in this economy. At the same time, no one wants to eat last Sunday's casserole three nights in a row. Variety is, as they say, the spice of life.

After a solid week of MoFo blogging, and several weeks of pie-baking and recipe-testing for my upcoming cookbook, even my ginormous new refrigerator and freezer are jam-packed with – you guessed it – leftovers. I can only freeze and give away so much.

"You eat with your eyes first."

This adage is true for a reason, and I've come to realize that enjoying leftovers is more of a visual problem than a gustatory one [assuming you actually enjoyed the original meal!]. Seeing beautifully presented food whets our appetites. We Americans usually eat dinner from a single plate, with all 3 courses slapped together, artists'-palette style. Personally, this is my least favorite way to eat; I experience Stendhal Syndrome when confronted with all those colors, textures and flavors at once, plus, dinner is over too quickly – and I love eating dinner! Many other cultures habitually parse out meals into courses, and still others, like the Japanese, habitually present food artfully using tiny portions. 

My "Sexy Leftover" Experiment

I decided to do a little food styling experiment with some leftovers from the past week. In the photos below, I've presented essentially the same meal in several different ways, using: 
I tried to make everything as appealing as possible. Please vote at the end of this post for which method you think made this humble ménage of leftovers the sexiest [ie, most appetizing].

Dinner, American Style 

Everything on one plate...

Love, American style, All courses are served at once.

À la Française

Each course is served on separate plates...
Course 1

Course 2

Course 3


The leftovers become raw material in which you create an entirely different, new meal. These are just 2 options; possibilities are limitless.

An appetizer verrine, created with tiny portions of leftovers, served in a vodka glass. Eat with a demitasse spoon.
Entree portion served in a stemless wine glass terrarium style.

Which food presentation is most appetizing?
Dinner, American Style
À la française

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Andrea said...

I thought the French style was most appealing, but I'd probably think twice about using so many plates! I'm going to try it though, to see if it makes me happier to eat leftovers when I don't have to look at them all at once.

Mandee said...

I like the French style as well as the last one in the glass. Clever idea!

Anonymous said...

As long as somebody else is doing the dishes, the French win for presentation ;-]

urban vegan said...

Snarky: That's what dishwashers are for! I also prefer the French method...but living alone, I rarely practice it.

Jared said...

Such great ideas, makes me want to reinterpret my leftovers more often. The stemless wine glass is my favorite. Thanks for the clever tips!

urban vegan said...

Thanks, Jared! You can also remake leftovers into soups and stews, and disguise them in vegan quiches and frittati :)

urban vegan said...

I hear you on the dishes, Andrea. I use my dishwasher, so really, it's not that much more trouble for me...and it stretches dinner out.

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