Unsexy food?

Right! It’s time to wake up and smell the leftovers people.

As a nation we waste enough food to feed ourselves twice over. Our landfill is filled with the rotting scraps of what has been scraped out of the crisper the day before shopping day to make room for more food that won’t be eaten. I’m not going to lecture anyone about responsible purchasing, other than to say, buying in bulk to save $5.00 might not make sense if you are going to throw half of it out on bin day.

So what can we do to limit out wastage from the kitchen? Let’s make leftovers ‘sexy’ again!

I’ve previously stated my love of the sausage sizzle, the great Australian equaliser, but what happens with the surplus snags? There are only so many sausage and tomato sauce sandwiches that the kids will eat in a week.

My dad would have whipped up his famous ‘Camp SURPRISE’, my kids’ grandmother would reach for the devilled sausage flavour mix, both with dubious results. But sausages can be born again from the flames of the BBQ and into what I am metaphorically calling Phoenix Pie.

Phoenix Pie

The ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, chopped finely so the kids can’t find it
  • 1 medium red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini – grate it and squeeze out the juices
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped, or grated finely so the kids can’t pick it out
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mild Mexican chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes (great way to get rid of summer surplus), or a 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of beef stock
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (more if it’s the only vegetable your family will eat without entering into legal negotiations)
  • 1/2 can of brown lentils or kidney beans or navy beans … whatever you have in the cupboard. I used black eye beans. The other half can be safely frozen until next time. Don’t forget to rinse them.
  • 4-6 cooked sausages, cut into small slices or chunks. Good sausages make good pie. We have amazing butchers making sensational sausages in Fremantle. I got mine from Princi’s in Beaconsfield.
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve

The process

Heat oil in a large, heavy based pan. Add onion, zucchini, carrot and capsicum. Cook until almost softened.

Time for the chilli! The recipe calls for two teaspoons, but that’s not set in stone. Add as much or as little as you like. Two teaspoons isn’t going to enough for some folk.

Cook the chilli for a couple of minutes before adding in tomato paste, tomato and stock. Bring back to a simmer and then add the corn, lentils/beans and sausages. Cook for a further 10ish minutes so that the sausages are heated thoroughly. Simmer and reduce the sauce.

At this point you might be wondering about the pie component of this. A friend made something like this once and topped it with potato gems and my kids voted for this option. You could also use up leftover mashed potato, top it with puff pastry, or put it in a pie case.

My personal favourite is using it in toasted sandwiches or jaffles. It’s a long bow to draw, but I think we can still call it pie, as it’s filling encased in a crust at least.

There you go. In one go we have cleaned the fridge, reduced our waste and made dinner the whole family will enjoy. As a bonus, you’ve saved a few dollars at the same time. Yay us!




Nikki Montgomery

Nikki Montgomery is a muffin baker, sandwich maker, chutney activist and painter of bespoke footwear. Nikki’s been called a lot of things over the years and worn a number of different hats. Between being 'just Mum' and trying to be an active community member, Nikki also has a keen interest in politics and social justice. What better way to get people to slow down and hear what others have to say than to gather together and share food? Now she can add ‘writer’ to her resume.