Give leftovers some love

Rachel Allen. Picture: PA Photo/Pete Dadds/UKTV.

Rachel Allen. Picture: PA Photo/Pete Dadds/UKTV.

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The kitchen’s full of bits and bobs but you’ve got no idea what to do with them. Sounds familiar? TV chef Rachel Allen explains how to turn those leftovers into fabulous family meals

How often do you come home hungry after a long day, only to stare blankly into the fridge?

It’s a common dilemma: cupboards full of food, yet nothing to eat. But now help is at hand.

For TV chef Rachel Allen, the solution lies in knowing what to do with the random leftovers.

It’s the theme for her new Good Food series Rachel Allen’s Everyday Kitchen, and accompanying book Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen: Simple, Delicious Family Food.

“It’s for that time when you look in the fridge, see a bit a bacon that needs eating up, or some leftover chicken, and can’t work out what to make,” says the Dublin-born chef.

“It was my sister who gave me this idea, about making recipes for leftovers, essentially. I knew it was the right thing to do when, at Christmas, we had our traditional conversation about what to do with all the leftover ham, turkey and veg.”

The recipes she’s put together aren’t necessarily concerned with thrift - although if you start using your leftovers and planning meals more carefully you will automatically save money. They are more about making delicious meals with the food you already have.

“It’s really thinking like my grandparents did,” says Allen, 41, who’s also been a regular guest on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.

“Everything was accounted for. And yes, we do waste so much food. My mum was the best soup-maker, so there are some lovely soup recipes in the series. Whatever didn’t get eaten went back in the fridge to be turned into a soup or a casserole the following day.”

There are some more creative and unexpected recipes in there too, she says - “it’s not all making shepherd’s pie from leftover lamb and so on”.

“There are delicious fresh and exciting things in there too, like the chicken, fennel and orange salad, or tartiflette, which comes from the Haute-Savoie region of France.

“It’s traditionally made with roast potatoes and the Reblochon cheese they make in the area, but this is my husband Isaac’s recipe from Christmas. He just uses whatever leftover cheese and ham there is, and spare roast potatoes.”