I’ve always had a rocky relationship with leftovers. I grew up in a fairly obsessive family for whom garbage night was a major production that naturally involved cleaning out the fridge. My father was particularly fond of this weekly ritual; he’d bustle from refrigerator to microwave to table, peering into smelly tupperware containers, shaking nearly empty bottles and saying things like, “It’s garbage night. Who wants to finish this ketchup?”
Needless to say, nobody really wanted to finish that ketchup. Nor could any of us be convinced that three spears of mushy canned asparagus, a crusty corner of rubbery lasagna, and half a pork chop of questionable age constituted a decent meal. Yet such were the offerings on a typical leftover night; we ate what there was to eat and then admired the clear, white space we’d created inside our refrigerator.
But despite the satisfaction a newly-organized refrigerator brings, it’s taken many years and several revelations for me to warm up to the idea of eating leftovers on purpose. Revelation number one: the microwave is capable of ruining just about anything, so it’s much better to repurpose leftovers than to reheat them. Once I’d embraced that concept I made all sorts of wonderful discoveries, not the least of which was suppli di riso, which is really just a fancy Italian way to say, “rice balls.”