Saving a Mediocre Dish

Dear Kaki,

I think you know how much I love leftovers.

I love leftovers.  And good thing, too, since living alone means I cook a couple of times a week and eat leftovers for most lunches and some dinners in between (and some breakfasts, if we’re being honest).  But, occasionally, cooking a large meal meant for leftovers backfires.

Why you no taste amazing?

So much food.

I made the most mediocre pot of ratatouille a week and a half ago and I’m just now almost done with it.  I tried a new recipe, and cut some corners, and… meh, not a good plan.  But I hate wasting food, so even though I could not get excited about this batch of ratatouille, I have been dutifully heating up a portion at work each day for lunch.

The silver lining, though, was that this was the perfect platform to test out a bunch of different ways to try to salvage a not-quite-great dish.  Here’s the list I came up with:

  • Salt – I chronically under-salt things.  Now it’s the first thing I go for when something doesn’t come out quite right.  In this instance it was helpful, if not the panacea I’d hoped it would be.
  • Seasoned salt – Think Tony’s, or Old Bay, or I have a Jerk Seasoning blend from my trip to Grand Cayman last year.  This worked out better.  Getting warmer…
  • Hot sauce – I know this is a bit of an “uh, duh” moment for the rest of world, but I’m not a huge fan of heat, so it actually took a while for me to try this.  It did improve my ratatouille a fair bit, though.
  • Cheese – yes, it’s salty, so that’s part of it, but also… what isn’t better with some cheese?  A nice portion of Parmesan was quite helpful for this particular Batch of Blah.
  • Nuts/seeds – I toasted up some of the aforementioned leftover pumpkin seeds, and that added a lot to this dish.  The crunch and the toasty flavor they lent were great additions.
  • Fried tofu – This, however, was the clear winner.  I made Alton Brown’s Filet-o-Fu the other day, and even though I burned the snot out of it, it was tasty on its own and really good with this ratatouille.

Since the items with some char were the best additions here, I’m sure adding grilled chicken or bacon would also have been lovely, but I just didn’t have those on hand to try.  Oh, and I should have tried a squeeze of lemon!  I’ve sort of become obsessed with lemon this year, it’s so perfect for so many things.

Next time I make a really good batch of ratatouille (using my old standby recipe; why did I bother to deviate?) I will certainly share that experience with you.  But that probably won’t be for a while.

Happy Recipe Saving!,


P.S.  The pictures in the Roasted Garlic Refried Black Beans post?  Um, they look phenomenal, how did you do that?!  Tripod?  Lighting?  I hear these things are important.  You’ll have to show me your tricks, they looked great!

P.P.S.  Okay, still on your prior post: talk to me about food processors.  Do you like yours?  I’m in the market.

P.P.P.S.  On a related note, recently I’ve been thinking about the song from Snow White, “Someday My Prince Will Come,” but replacing “Prince” with all of the expensive kitchen gadgets I wish would just waltz into my life.  “Someday my Food Processor Will Come.”  “Someday my Stand Mixer Will Come.”  “Someday my Vitamix Will Come.”  This is my life.


3 thoughts on “Saving a Mediocre Dish

  1. Ratatouille…yummers! Sorry you had to eat yours for 10 days. I recently had the experience of making a kind of ratatouille at my cottage. I ended up using the leftovers as a filling for an omelette. It was delicious! Maybe you can try that next time. 🙂

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