Odds and ends. Bits and pieces. Those little leftovers from previous meals that were too good to throw away but too small to make a meal, on their own.
Go ahead, take them out of the fridge and set them on the table. Imagine how they can be used to make a brand new meal.
The ingredients are like colors on a painter’s palette, or notes and chords, waiting to be arranged to make music. These are the elements of creation!
Some of my favorite meals have started this way.
Reinventing leftovers can be rewarding in many ways. There is satisfaction in knowing that good food won’t be wasted and there is the feeling of exuberance that comes from self-expression and creative thinking.
I made this dish way back in April, 2020, during a time when I was sheltering at home, in an attempt to stem the tide of the pandemic. If there was ever a time to think frugally, it was then. People were hoarding toilet paper, disinfectants and many store shelves were empty. What a time!
Burritos with Cheese Sauce
1 ½ cups leftover enchiladas (ground beef, corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, salsa)
½ cup cooked ground beef
1 cup sautéed vegetables (onions, tomatoes and mushrooms)
3 10” flour tortillas
1 Tbs olive oil
16 oz grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour,
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp hot sauce
¼ cup sliced, pickled jalapeños
¼ cup diced green onions
¼ cup chili-garlic sauce
½ cup sour cream
½ cup chopped iceberg lettuce
2 Roma tomatoes
Chop the enchiladas into tiny pieces with a kitchen knife.
Add the chopped enchiladas to a large mix bowl and add the cooked ground beef.
Chop the sautéed onions, tomatoes and mushrooms.
Add the chopped vegetables to the mixing bowl.
Mix everything together thoroughly.
Divide the mixture into thirds and assemble the burritos.
Add olive oil to a large skillet and set heat to low/medium.
Carefully lay the burritos in the pan, seam side down.
Sear the burritos on all sides until they are light, golden brown.
Remove the burritos to serving plates and keep in a warm place.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and set the heat to low.
Once the butter melts, add the flour and whisk, to form a paste.
Simmer the butter and flour, while whisking, for about one minute.
Add the milk and whisk to combine.
Gently fold in the grated cheese and turn the heat off. Mix until the cheese sauce is smooth. Avoid over-mixing the sauce, to prevent the sauce from breaking.
Once the cheese sauce is warm and blended, cover each burrito with the sauce.
For a mild burrito, top with green onions.
For a spicier burrito, top with chili-garlic sauce and jalapeños.
Serve with sliced tomato, chopped lettuce and sour cream.