What's the second most important ingredient in my kitchen? The first, of course, is the best extra virgin I can get my hands on—expensive, but less costly and far more fun than medication or skin cream. The second is leftovers, which my Tuscan husband accents on the second syllable, left-OH-vers, which sounds much more entertaining.
My refrigerator is always filled with little containers and plastic bags of cooked vegetables, meat, or fish. The challenge is to transform them into an entirely new dish. These were my leftovers—cleaned salad greens, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber and onion salad, a few pieces of roast guinea hen, sliced beets. I chopped a stalk of celery and some basil. Picked the meat off the guinea hen and mixed it with the celery. I quartered the hard-boiled eggs. Placed a layer of salad greens on a large platter and arranged all my leftovers on top. And drizzled everything with lots of Castello di Ama extra virgin, some Villa Manodori balsamico, crisp sautéed breadcrumbs (I always have a bagful made from stale bread—think mini-croutons), and basil. Lunch was ready. The Tuscan was pleased.
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