For those of you who loved Jessica Zotti’s sauce recipe, you’ll be thrilled to know she’s back at The Upside with advice on what to do with those Christmas leftovers!


Not hosting any part of Christmas this year has left me feeling a little bit out of the festive loop.  As it turns out, leafing through cook books, meticulously planning my menus, shopping for fruit and veg at midnight, and sweating it out in the kitchen in the summer heat have become seasonal markers without which Christmas doesn’t really feel very Christmassy.

But armed with take home packages of leftovers, gifts of cookware and serving ware, and new inspirational cookbooks, I’m ready to cook my way through the rest of the summer. Today I’m starting with the leftovers.


To use up prawn shells and heads. 
Dad sent us home on Christmas evening with a big bowl of delicious whole prawns, which I ate yesterday with some salad, a toasted baguette and seafood sauce. Today, I’m using the reserved shells and heads to make a prawn flavoured stock, with the intention of making a seafood stew later in the week. I don’t strain the solids out of this stock, so with the exception of the prawns, bay leaves and parsley stalks, which I fish out, all the other ingredients form the base for my soup.


Prawns in a muslin bindle.
Prawns in a muslin bindle.

Prawn shells and heads, tied up in a piece of muslin, for easy removal. 
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tin of tomatoes
2 sticks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
a few leaves basil
Stalks from 1 bunch of parsley
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
pinch chili flakes, to taste
2 tsp salt
2L boiled water, from the kettle.


In some olive oil, over a low heat, soften the onion and shallots.  Then, add the carrots, celery, garlic, fennel seeds, chili, thyme, and rosemary and cook for a minute or two, until softened.

Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaf, basil leaves, parsley stalks, water, and salt.  Bring back to the boil, then add the prawns in their muslin parcel.  At this point, I moved the pot outside to simmer on the barbecue so as not to fill the house with the smell of boiling prawns. Simmer for 2 hours.

I really should stress how flavoursome this stock is.  Due to the hard work being already done, subsequent soups and stews are the work of minutes.  Just fry the seafood in question briefly in olive oil, then add a few ladles full of the stock, and voila – Bouillabaisse! Prawn and Chorizo Soup! The stock would also be magic in a risotto or paella.

VariationTo use up meat scraps, bones, and herbs.

If you hosted Christmas lunch, chances are you have meat bones and scraps of rapidly drying roasts lingering in your fridge.  These can likewise be used in a stock (using similar ingredients listed above- I’d leave out the fennel though), and frozen for another time should you feel that this isn’t exactly soup weather. Make sure you also use this opportunity to use up any fresh herbs you purchased for your Christmas Day roasts and salads; rosemary, thyme, basil, and parsley all taste good in a meat stock.

Turkey Salad

To use up turkey meat 

For Turkey, I direct you to my recipe for Turkey Salad with Nuts and Cranberries.  If your turkey meat has dried out, make a little extra of the dressing, and drizzle it over the meat to moisten it.

Ham with Potato Salad

To use up ham and potatoes

Actually, I don’t have any leftover potatoes, so I’ll be using some that I’ve just boiled. If you have some leftover roast or boiled potatoes, use those.  This is based on the potato salad that Nanna used to make, and although I have used chives, feel free to do as Nanna did and use chopped raw onion for a bitier salad.

Serves 2

3 medium sized potatoes
2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Sliced ham off the bone


Peel the potatoes and chop into thirds. Cook in a pot of salted, boiling water until cooked all the way through. Drain and let cool before slicing.

Combine all the salad ingredients, and add salt and pepper, and olive oil to taste.

Serve with cold ham.


To use up bread

Ok, I appreciate that telling you to use up stale bread by making toast is kind of a no-brainer.  Consider this more of a reminder that leftover sandwiches don’t need to be an exercise in martyrdom.  Use up all those meats and cheese remnants, pop it under the grill if you want, sprinkle over some herbs and seasoning, and drizzle with olive oil and/or balsamic.  I happened to have some ricotta that needed to be used up, as well as turkey roll and salami.


Bread, fresh or stale, toasted
Cheese (I used ricotta)
Meat (I used turkey and salami, but ham, beef or pork would be great too)
Olive oil
Herbs of choice (I used basil)
Salt and pepper

Toast your bread, then drizzle with olive oil.  Top with meat and cheese. Toast under the grill if you want to. Finish with herbs, seasoning and more oil. 

Italian French Toast

To use up panettone

The panettone I bought to go with my Christmas Cassata was stuffed with a custardy Strega cream, and was so perfectly moist that even the last of it that we ate today was still delicious. If, however, you have been left with inferior quality panettone, or remnants that went steadily stale over the course of Christmas afternoon, you can recycle it by using it in french toast.  For my part, I picked up a new one for half price today in the supermarket with the express purpose of using it in this fashion.

Serves 1


1/2 cup full cream milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp caster sugar
few drops of vanilla essence
2 thick slices stale panettone
butter, for frying.


Mix together the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.

Drench the slices of panettone in the egg mixture, allowing it to soak in well.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the panettone slices until golden brown.

Serve dusted with cinnamon sugar with cream or vanilla icecream.

By Jessica Zotti
Originally published on My Southern Cucina