AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Recycling the 4th DATE: 7/13/2009 04:31:00 AM ----- BODY:
When organizing a party, the general rule of thumb is that 60% of the guests will accept the invitation. Somewhere in planning a 4th of July pot-luck in the garden, I messed up the numbers, as I ended up with 15 guests.

Granted, I was thrilled that so many wonderful people could join me, I just don't have the accouterments for that many guests, and had to resort to disposable plates, cups and flatware. During a last-minute run to Target, I was thrilled to discover biodegradable plates made from recycled paper. I didn't feel as guilty about creating all that trash knowing that some of it would end up in the compost bin.
I billed the dinner as "pot-luck." But as I evaluated the guest list -- considering who would bring food vs. beverages vs. nothing at all, I decided it was best if I just cooked enough to cover all the bases. As my friend Paul teased, I could have feed all the guests just on the hors d'ouevres, never mind the assortment of salads, as well as burgers and fixin's.

Needless to say, I had leftovers. From the burger bar, I had leftover patties, tomatoes and onions. From the crudite, I had celery and carrots. Do you see where I'm going with this? With a sprig of basil from the garden and a grating of fresh parmesan, the leftovers hardly felt recycled.

Here's my original recipe with modifications for cooking with leftovers.

Pasta Bolognese

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups diced yellow onions (or red onions)
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 lb. ground beef (or leftover grilled hamburger patties)
2 cups tomato sauce/puree (I pureed raw tomatoes which were quite watery, negating the need for extra broth)
1 ¾ cups beef stock (no need if using fresh tomatoes that are watery)
1 cup dry white wine (surprise, surprise, I had left over of this too)

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions, stirring occasionally, until wilted and lightly browned. Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes

2. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add to pan, breaking up meat with back of a spoon. Continue cooking until meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomato sauce, wine and stock. Simmer for a very long time.

4. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta, or use for your favorite lasagna recipe

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:7/13/2009 08:06:00 AM Great way to use up leftover hamburgers. I often grill the leftovers and crumble them into a ziploc bag. The bag goes in the freezer, and when it's time to make a soup or stew, or a filling for quesadillas, I just pull out my baggie and I'm ready to go. (And, by the way, I can't ever imagine a guest in your home going hungry!) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:7/13/2009 08:53:00 AM I love culinary recycling tips - great work! (And, I'm still working through variations of the beef tenderloin from the 4th of July!) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:7/13/2009 11:14:00 AM That was a great idea. I'm not sure my head would have gone there! I will remember it now. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Karine DATE:7/14/2009 12:18:00 AM Pasta are always good to clean up the fridge.. Your recipe lloks yummy! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Kristen DATE:7/14/2009 05:22:00 PM I always struggle with what to do with leftover food. Great ideas here! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:7/15/2009 07:33:00 AM Lydia -- that's a great idea too! Though, this is the first time I've had leftover burgers... :)

T.W. How many different ways have you cooked it?

noble pig -- I'm sure you would have come up with something delicious, too.

Karine -- so true. It's like the sponge for leftovers.

Kristen - definitely requires a little flexibility. ----- --------