Eleven summers ago, I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. One thing I brought back with me is an appreciation of sangria and tapas. Every so often we’ll have dinner at a Spanish restaurant or, even less often, make paella for dinner.
And lately, we’ve been trying to be better about only buying the groceries we need, eating the food we have, and minimizing the food we throw out. So in the attempt to mix up meals and elevate random leftovers, we’ll have “toddler tapas” for lunch on the weekends.
Use the bread board the way fashion people might use a nice, big belt: to pull the disparate elements of your refrigerator together into a dinner-type outfit.
Odds and ends of good cheese and bread, crackers, fresh or dried fruit, a sprig of some or other fresh herb, a dollop or marmalade or honey, pickles or mustard, a nice piece of salami for the meat-eaters, maybe a salad on the side.
For Monica’s birthday dinner, we made a fancy version of toddler tapas: prosciutto, two kinds of cheese, apple slices, raspberries, edamame, snow peas, and French bread. John enjoyed some wine, while Monica and I drank milk.
Except for the proscuitto, which we bought specifically for this dinner, everything was leftovers:
- Cheddar cheese and smoked Gouda were cheeses that didn’t get served at Monica’s birthday party
- Apple slices – we always have fruit on hand
- Raspberries – these were extras that didn’t get used in Monica’s birthday cupcakes
- Edamame – we now keep a bag of frozen shelled edamame in our freezer for snacks
- Snow peas – extras not used in a stir fry
- French bread – to be used in sandwiches during the week
Not only is it fun to nibble a little of this and a little of that for dinner, but toddlers love options! Monica doesn’t eat some of everything every time, but I feel pretty good if I at least offer something from every food group. And I’d like to think that if we include some artfully arranged veggies (with a dip) among the cheese and crackers, there might be a greater chance she’ll eat one.
Do you have a creative way to use up leftovers or sneak in a few extra veggies?