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How to use up leftovers with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

If you ever find yourself guiltily throwing away leftovers, these are the recipes for you. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gives us a taste of the kind of delicious dishes he whips up with the scraps that would otherwise be heading for his kitchen bin...

Gransnetters shared their favourite recipes for using up leftovers on the thread.

Leftover peelings? Potato peel soup

potato peel soup

Hugh says: "I understand that this might be a tough sell. But bear with me because it’s miraculous. There’s nothing humble about this soup’s rich, creamy flavour – it tastes, remarkably, like mushrooms. And if it seems just a little too pared-back, it’s very easy to jazz it up with some nice finishing touches (see below). Make sure the potatoes are well scrubbed before you peel them so the peels are very clean."

Serves 4

20g butter, or rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
1 bay leaf
About 200g potato peelings (about as much as you’d get from preparing a decent-sized tray of roast potatoes)
500ml whole milk
500ml chicken or veg stock (see page 28)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish (optional)
Fried sage leaves
Crisp-grilled bacon

Heat the butter or oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the onions, bay leaf and a good pinch of salt. Sauté gently, until the onions are soft but haven’t taken on much colour, about 10 minutes.

Add the potato peelings and give everything a very good stir for a minute.

Pour in the milk and stock, season well with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the peels are very tender – another 10 minutes or so.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly, then purée in a food processer, blender or using a stick blender until very smooth.

Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the
chopped parsley, if using.

Serve in warmed bowls, topped with fried sage leaves and shards of crisp-grilled bacon, if you like. Finish with a generous grinding of pepper.

Tips and swaps

  • Float a poached egg on each portion and sprinkle the crispy bacon on top of it, if you like.
  • Add a handful of cooked sweetcorn and some leftover smoked fish or cooked ham or bacon.
  • You can use other root peelings as well as potatoes – especially parsnips and carrots. But keep it 50 per cent spud or it can become too sweet. A good pinch of cumin goes well with a multi-root version.

Leftover roast? Lamb and mint couscous

lamb couscous

Hugh says: "What I love about this recipe is how easily it turns Sunday lunch into Monday's lunchbox. If you have some leftover gravy, heat it up and add it to the liquid or stock you use to cook the couscous. I've added carrots and peas, but you can be pretty inventive with what you throw in – if it tasted good with your roast dinner, it'll taste good in your couscous too. I season this with a dollop of mint sauce or jelly, and stir in some perky herbs too, to add freshness."

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a light lunch

150g couscous or barley couscous
300ml hot water or stock (see page 28) and/or gravy, if you have it (or the amount of liquid specified on the couscous packet)
1–2 tablespoons olive oil, plus an extra splash for the dressing
1–2 tablespoons mint sauce or jelly
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g roast lamb, diced
100g cooked peas
100g cooked carrots, diced
Small handful of mint, parsley and/or coriander leaves, roughly chopped or torn, plus extra leaves to finish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the couscous, put it into a bowl, add the hot water or stock and olive oil, then cover and leave to soak for a short time, according to the packet instructions.

When the couscous is swollen and tender, add the mint sauce or jelly, lemon zest and juice, and sprinkle on the ground spices. Fork the couscous gently to fluff it up and combine it with the seasonings.

Add the lamb, vegetables and herbs and toss gently to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, a little more lemon if you like, and a splash of olive oil.

Serve in bowls, scattered with extra herb leaves.

Tips and swaps

  • Add a small handful of dried fruits such as raisins, barberries or chopped unsulphured apricots. First soak the fruit in hot water or tea for about 10 minutes to plump it up a bit, then drain before stirring it into the couscous.
  • Use quinoa in place of the couscous.
  • This dish gives a good second life to roast meats other than lamb – try it with chicken, beef or pork.

Yoghurt to use up? Lemon and yoghurt pudding cake

lemon yoghurt pudding cake

Hugh says: "This is a version of that cosy favourite, lemon delicious pudding. On cooking, the batter separates, leaving a pool of lemon curd-y sauce at the base of the dish and a tender, light sponge on top. The recipe makes great use of slightly mature yoghurt. If you don't have quite enough, simply combine the yoghurt with some whole milk to bring it up to 250g."

Serves 6

40g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra to grease the dish
160g caster sugar
3 large eggs, separated
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
250g thick Greek-style or other natural wholemilk yoghurt (less than fresh is fine)
Icing sugar, to finish

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Lightly butter a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.

Using an electric hand mixer, or free-standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down with a spatula a couple of times.

Beat in the egg yolks and lemon zest, then sift the flour and baking powder together over the batter and lightly fold in.

Whisk together the yoghurt and lemon juice, then gently stir this mixture into the batter until just combined.

Whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl until they form soft peaks then gently fold into the lemon mixture, using a metal spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish. Stand the dish in a roasting tin and carefully pour in boiling water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for about 50 minutes until the pudding is puffed up and lightly golden on the top – it should still have a slightly tender wobble to it.

Carefully remove from the oven, then lift the pudding out of the roasting tin. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Dust with icing sugar to serve. Hand round a jug of double cream or a bowl of thick fresh yoghurt for everyone to help themselves.

Extract taken from River Cottage Love Your Leftovers, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury, £20.00, Hardback. Photography © Simon Wheeler 

love your leftovers






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