When organizing a party, the general rule of thumb is that 60% of the guests will accept the invitation. Somewhere in planning a 4th of July pot-luck in the garden, I messed up the numbers, as I ended up with 15 guests.
Granted, I was thrilled that so many wonderful people could join me, I just don't have the accouterments for that many guests, and had to resort to disposable plates, cups and flatware. During a last-minute run to Target, I was thrilled to discover biodegradable plates made from recycled paper. I didn't feel as guilty about creating all that trash knowing that some of it would end up in the compost bin.
I billed the dinner as "pot-luck." But as I evaluated the guest list -- considering who would bring food vs. beverages vs. nothing at all, I decided it was best if I just cooked enough to cover all the bases. As my friend Paul teased, I could have feed all the guests just on the hors d'ouevres, never mind the assortment of salads, as well as burgers and fixin's.
Needless to say, I had leftovers. From the burger bar, I had leftover patties, tomatoes and onions. From the crudite, I had celery and carrots. Do you see where I'm going with this? With a sprig of basil from the garden and a grating of fresh parmesan, the leftovers hardly felt recycled.
Here's my original recipe with modifications for cooking with leftovers.
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups diced yellow onions (or red onions)
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 lb. ground beef (or leftover grilled hamburger patties)
2 cups tomato sauce/puree (I pureed raw tomatoes which were quite watery, negating the need for extra broth)
1 ¾ cups beef stock (no need if using fresh tomatoes that are watery)
1 cup dry white wine (surprise, surprise, I had left over of this too)
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions, stirring occasionally, until wilted and lightly browned. Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes
2. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add to pan, breaking up meat with back of a spoon. Continue cooking until meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato sauce, wine and stock. Simmer for a very long time.
4. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta, or use for your favorite lasagna recipe