Sometimes An Added Crunch Is All You Need To Improve Leftovers

Whether we've intentionally made a big batch of food to last us for a few meals, or we simply ordered or cooked too much, all of us are familiar with leftovers. Aside from being economical, eating leftovers can be delicious if you know how to prepare them. When the flavors of the ingredients and seasonings allowed to set in, some even say that soups, stews, pot roasts, and other leftovers taste better the next day.

Sometimes, though, the texture of a reheated dish gives away its leftover status. Leftover meat may become more tender over time when allowed to sit in a sauce, but vegetables will no longer be as firm and fresh-tasting. Leftover noodles and rice can also become soggy. Since texture is a major component in our enjoyment of a dish, garnishing leftovers can make a world of difference. Add some crunch to a reheated dish and you can trick your senses into believing that it's freshly-cooked.

For some easy ideas, top reheated soup with croutons and toasted nuts or seeds. Toasted minced garlic or onions are also crunchy and flavorful toppings that suit all kinds of dishes. For a fresher pop of taste and texture, make the Italian condiment gremolata. Its main ingredients are parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, but you can customize gremolata by adding crushed nuts and seeds for a pleasing bite. Use it to add a punch to your leftovers, whether the dish came from the stove or the microwave.

Make crunchy toppings with your pantry staples

Adding some crunch to a dish is also a great idea for freshly-made foods. You'll notice this when eating in restaurants: Those tasty, crunchy garnishes like fried shallots or breadcrumbs are like pleasant little surprises, adding a lively textural contrast that makes each bite more distinct and delicious. It helps if the toppings have their own flavor.

To further elevate your leftover foods, you can make the toppings themselves from leftovers as well. Toast a day-old slice of bread and rub garlic on it for some instant garlic toast that you can then cut into croutons or crush into breadcrumbs. Sprinkle these on your leftover mac and cheese or lasagna. For an even quicker topping, blitz some spare cheese crackers in the food processor and sprinkle the crumbles on pasta or soup. You can also cut up cooked, leftover bacon into bacon bits.

Leftover desserts — and desserts in general — can also benefit from having some crunch. Top your leftover cake with granola, crushed cereal, chopped-up wafers, or crunchy sprinkles to provide a nice contrast to the softness of the frosting and cake layers. For something less sugary, go for toasted coconut flakes. They'll add a nutty bite to custards, parfaits, pies, and puddings. Freeze-dried fruit is another great option. Aside from their pleasing crunch and fruity sweetness, freeze-dried citrus fruits can also bring some zest that will further enhance the flavors of your leftover dessert.