What can you do with leftover cooked vegetables?

The choices really are endless with your leftover veggies!

As a cook, it's easy to have a love-hate relationship with veggies. They're good for your family, colorful and even easy to prepare, but they don't elicit the "oohs" and "aahs" of a nicely browned chunk of meat. And chances are it's the vegetable side dish that ends up in the fridge to be reheated for an encore performance tomorrow -- whether your kids like it or not.

When it comes to vegetable leftovers, it isn't all bad news. If the vegetables weren't overcooked the first time around, they'll retain flavor, color and some of their nutritional value, too. With a little creative inspiration, leftover vegetables can even get a new lease on life as part of another menu item.

Face it. Sometimes a little camouflage helps. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach and green beans can be chopped up and blended into meatloaf or added to pasta sauce, where they will be somewhat hidden and less likely to cause loud complaints. If one of your kids detects a glimmer of green, tell him it's an herb like parsley or chives. The strong flavor of the meat or sauce should help mask the taste of the vegetable. This strategy could even net you another whole serving from your recipe. Actually, sneaky concealment works at least half the time.

Misdirection doesn't have to be the only solution for leftover vegetables, though. The biggest preparation challenge is in not overcooking leftover vegetables that didn't need much prep time in the first place. This can be accomplished by choosing recipes that can benefit from some veggie goodness and either do not require much cooking time themselves, like egg dishes, or tolerate the addition of some last minute vegetables, like soups and stews.