It's a common problem: you only need a cup of diced butternut squash, half a tomato, or a handful of spinach, but veggies often aren't sold that way in the grocery store. After making a few recipes, you may also end up with half an onion, a few Brussels sprouts, and a broccoli stem. What now?
Don't throw those veggie odds and ends in the trash. Give them new life by tossing them into one of the following dishes. It's easy to mix and match, so you can use up every bit of leftover vegetable without getting bored.
An all-time favorite takeout dish, fried rice is easy to whip up at home. It's a perfect way to use up leftover rice (whether homemade or from a restaurant) as well as an assortment of veggies, and can serve as a main dish or a hearty side for meat.
Raw vegetables are best for fried rice, and almost anything can be used successfully as long as it is diced up small enough—aim for a 1/2-inch dice or smaller. The cook time is short, so everything needs to be able to cook quickly and evenly. If you'd like to use some leftover cooked vegetables, add them at the end and toss to heat through.
Best Vegetables for Fried Rice
Asparagus, bell pepper, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, corn, edamame, green bean, kale, leeks, mushroom, onion, pea, radish, spinach, summer squash, zucchini
The wonderful world of soup is deep and wide, with silky pureed bowls and chunky meat and vegetable-based options. All are good ways to use up leftover vegetables from potatoes to leafy greens. They'll add flavor and nutrition to the finished dish.
Prep the raw veggies by chopping or dicing—the size will depend on your preferences and the soup. If you're using leftover cooked vegetables, add them towards the end of cooking.
Best Vegetables for Blended Soups
Broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, leek, onion, potato (peeled), pumpkin, rutabaga, sweet potato (peeled), turnip, winter squashes (butternut, acorn, kabocha, not spaghetti)
Best Vegetables for Chunky Soups
Artichoke heart, arugula, bell pepper, butternut squash, green bean, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, collard green, corn, fennel, kale, leek, mushrooms, onion, parsnip, pea, potato, rutabaga, spinach, tomato, turnip, zucchini
Another great way to use an assortment of leftover veggies and scraps is using them to make stock or broth. Almost any veggies will do, including scraps like carrot peels and onion skins, but avoid cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage since they can give the broth a bitter taste.
Flavorful stir-fries only take minutes to make and are a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends. Make a saucy stir-fry and serve over steamed rice or add chewy noodles directly to the pan.
Since stir-fries tend to cook fast over high heat, choose veggies that cook quickly and chop up slower cooking veggies into small pieces. If you're using cooked vegetables, add them at the end just to heat through.
Best Vegetables for Stir Fries
Asparagus, bamboo shoot, bell pepper, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard, corn, daikon, edamame, eggplant, green bean, kale, kohlrabi, leek, mushroom, okra, onion, radish, spinach, summer squash, tomato, zucchini
Frittata and Quiche
If you're looking to feed a breakfast or brunch crowd, a main dish frittata or quiche is the way to go. They are also delicious with a long list of veggie fillings. You'll want to briefly cook most vegetables before adding them—if they're cooked leftovers, simply add to the egg mixture as-is. About two cups of vegetables are right for a standard-sized frittata or quiche.
You can also add leftover cooked veggies to scrambles (egg or tofu-based) and omelets. Eggs pair well with a myriad of veg, and a little cheese won't hurt, either.
Best Vegetables for Egg Dishes
Artichoke heart, arugula, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, chard, corn, kale, leek, mushroom, onion, pea, potato, radicchio, spinach, sweet potato, tomatillo, tomato, zucchini
Most vegetables taste delicious when roasted, and can be mixed and matched with ease. The key is to pair veggies that cook for a similar amount of time. Root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, and beets take longer to roast, while broccoli and asparagus only take a few minutes.
To keep your roasted vegetables to one pan, start the slow-roasting veggies first and then add the others in stages. For example, start your diced sweet potatoes roasting while you prep the cauliflower. Once the potatoes have roasted for 5-10 minutes, add the cauliflower and prep the kale. Add the kale in the last 5 minutes of roasting, tossing each time you add a veggie.
Best Vegetables for Roasting
Asparagus, beet, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, eggplant, fennel, onion, parsnip, potato, radish, rutabaga, sweet potato, turnip, winter squashes (acorn, butternut, pumpkin)
Pasta and Risotto
Enhance a pasta or risotto recipe with the addition of tender vegetables. Some scrap vegetables, like carrots and mushrooms, add delicious flavor to a red sauce. Dice and sauté the veggies first before adding them to the sauce. Roasted, grilled, or sautéed veggies are also a nice topping for pasta dishes with light sauces and risotto.
Leftover raw or cooked veggies can also make a delicious vegetarian pasta salad. If the veggie is edible raw, simply dice and add. Cooked veggies like roasted peppers and asparagus are also tasty options.
Best Vegetables for Red Sauce
Bell pepper, carrot, celery, fennel, leek, mushroom, onion
Best Vegetables for Topping Pasta or Risotto
Artichoke heart, arugula, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, butternut squash, eggplant, fava bean, fennel, mushroom, pea, radicchio, spinach, zucchini