That fridge isn’t as empty as it looks. Some sorry-looking veg, a few wilted herbs and a knob of cheese might not seem like a bounty. But with a bit of creativity – and the help of a good-quality food processor – you can whizz up your leftover bits and bobs into something delicious.
To help you cut down on food waste and reduce your grocery bills, we’ve put together these five leftover recipes, all endlessly customisable for what you have on hand. Wasted food is wasted money, after all.
Even better, these recipes all make use of a food processor to save time, because no one wants to spend their evening grating courgettes. Looking for a quality food processor to lend a hand in the kitchen? Check out our energy-efficient models here.
This basic vegetable fritter recipe is fantastic for clearing out the fridge, and even uses up a hunk of stale bread. A food processor will make swift work of your odds and ends, which get mixed into a simple batter and pan-fried until golden. Kids love these fritters with ketchup!
Once you’ve got the hang of the basic recipe, you can start experimenting. Chuck in some leftover mash, frozen peas or sweetcorn – or why not try fresh chilli and curry powder?
Makes about 12 fritters
- About 1kg of any veg and herbs – we like carrot, courgette, spring onion and coriander
- 200g stale bread (or store-bought breadcrumbs)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 75g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Optional extras: cubed feta or halloumi, cooked chopped bacon, smoked mackerel flakes or small frozen prawns
To serve (optional):
- Yoghurt or sour cream
- Chopped herbs – we like mint
- Pulverise the stale bread into breadcrumbs in the food processor. Add any leafy veg or herbs and pulse to chop. Tip into a mixing bowl.
- Switch your food processor to the grating attachment (there’s no need to clean the bowl). Shred your raw firm veg and add to the mixing bowl.
- Add the garlic, flour, eggs and optional extras, seasoning with about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix with your hands.
- Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Drop in a heaped tablespoon of mixture per fritter – the mixture should sizzle when it hits the oil. Flatten the fritters slightly and space them about an inch apart.
- Gently fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy – repeat until all the batter is used up.
- While they’re still hot, sprinkle the fritters with a little more salt. You can keep the fritters warm in a low oven whilst you cook all the batter.
- Mix a bowl of yoghurt or sour cream with some chopped herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt. Serve the fritters alongside the tangy sauce and a dressed salad.
Pesto doesn’t need to be made with basil and expensive pine nuts. This versatile sauce can be whizzed up using any bunch of greens, combined with just a few ingredients. This is a great way to use up wilted herbs, spinach or kale.
Bored of pasta? Try having your pesto in sandwiches, as a dip, or as a sauce for chicken or fish.
Makes 10-12 servings
- 85g nuts (any type except peanuts)
- 85g greens (any combination of fresh herbs, spinach, kale or even blanched broccoli)
- 85g hard cheese such as parmesan
- 150ml olive oil, plus more to store
- 3 garlic cloves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Toast the nuts in a frying pan over low heat for about 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
- Place the nuts and the rest of the ingredients into your food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Taste and adjust flavour with more salt, pepper or lemon juice.
- Stir through hot pasta and serve with more cheese and pepper.
- Keep leftovers in a jar and drizzle over more oil to prevent browning. Keep in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.
Hidden veg pasta sauce
Using a food processor is a great way to get a fussy family to eat more veg. By using this recipe as a base, you can sneak all kinds of odds and ends into this customisable pasta sauce. It tastes sweet, savoury and tomatoey – with a little more depth than your usual tomato sauce.
You can use this sauce in a pasta bake too – simply combine it with cooked pasta, top with plenty of cheese and cook under the grill until golden and bubbling.
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 500g other veg, roughly chopped – we like peppers, leeks, spring onions or courgettes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tins tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 300g pasta
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry all the veg for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and fry for another two minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, as well as a big pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 20 minutes – about 45 minutes is ideal.
- Boil the pasta in salted water according to packet instructions. Tip the sauce into the food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning.
- Combine the pasta with the sauce, and serve topped with parmesan and fresh basil if desired.
Did you know your food processor can make a foolproof flaky pie crust in minutes? This delicious pie recipe transforms leftover meat and veg into a spectacular meal. It works perfectly with all the elements of a roast, so don’t chuck away those sprouts!
This recipe makes enough for two 9-inch pie crusts. You can either have both a lid and a base in your pie, or just a lid on two pies (the pastry freezes well, so you can save half for another day). Store-bought pastry works perfectly for this recipe too.
For the pastry:
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 225g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 80ml ice cold water
- 1 beaten egg, for glazing
For the filling:
- 40g butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 300ml chicken stock (replace up to half of this with leftover gravy)
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 150ml double cream
- About 600g leftover cooked meat and veg, such as chicken, ham, potatoes, sprouts and carrots, chopped into pieces
- Salt and pepper
- To make the pastry, pulse the flour and salt in the food processor a few times to mix. Add the cubed butter and pulse 3-5 times until butter is broken up into pea-sized chunks.
- Slowly add the cold water, running the food processor until all the water has been added. The mixture will start to come together – stop before it forms a ball (some crumbs are fine).
- Divide into two, cover and chill for at least an hour before using.
- To make the filling, heat the butter in a large saucepan. Add the diced onion and fry until soft. Sprinkle over the flour and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken stock a little at a time, stirring constantly. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, then add the mustard and cream.
- Add the chopped leftovers and stir well. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, then set aside to completely cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface so it’s about 5mm thick – one half of the pastry if you’re just having a lid, both pieces if you want a base too.
- Line a 1 litre/25cm pie dish with pastry – or if you’re just having a lid, simply add the filling to the dish. Cover with the pastry lid, crimping with a fork to seal. Brush with beaten egg.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and crisp all over. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving with mash, gravy and greens.
A basic soup recipe should be in everyone’s arsenal. Throw in whatever veg you’ve got in the fridge, and blend it up into a comforting, healthy lunch. You can throw in all kinds of leftovers too, such as pasta sauce, mash, meat or that old half jar of pesto. No one will know.
Why not experiment with different toppings, too? You can jazz up a soup with fresh herbs, croutons, grated cheese or creme fraiche. This recipe uses a food processor – but a stick blender will work just as well.
- 200g chopped vegetables such as onion, celery or carrots
- 300g cubed potatoes
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 700ml veg or chicken stock
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the vegetables and potatoes for a few minutes until beginning to soften.
- Cover with the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender.
- Tip into the food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with crusty bread and butter.