I consider myself a hunter & gatherer when it comes to lunch. Usually, around 11:30am, the grumblings begin. My stomach reminding me that it’s been a while since breakfast. There are a lot of challenges being a freelancer, and working from home. As with anything, though, there are also perks. Being able to make my way into the kitchen, and take time to rustle up a homemade meal is one of them. This tends to be one of my favorite meals of the day. No one else to satisfy but my own wants and whims. Cooking for one can be very gratifying. For this reason, I save every little scrap of food. Even the bits of shredded cheese left from taco night get rescued, knowing I can add them to migas. And then there’s these couple of meatballs you’re about to see transformed.
Whether you call it a hero, hoagie, or sub, I’ll assume we’re all familiar with the humble meatball parmigiana. A few weeks ago, while foraging in the fridge for lunch inspiration, I decided to put my own spin on this classic Italian American favorite. I like petit sandwiches. Contrary to popular opinion, I only sound like I have a big mouth. Big hulking sandwiches are a turn off to me. I’m more partial to tartines, open-faced sandwiches, which make the fillings the star instead of thick slabs of bread.
This here meatball parmigiana tartine looks fancy, but there’s nothing complicated or fussy about it. Toast some bread, smash a couple of meatballs on top. Add some pecorino locatelli and fresh mozzarella cheese, then run it under the broiler. In less than 10 minutes, you’ve got quite a filling, homemade meal, and can find comfort knowing you didn’t waste any food. See, to me that’s where we need to go with our conversation regarding food waste. These are the challenges we face as home cooks—our food waste is starkly different from that of restaurant chefs. They’re trying to find creative uses for 10 pounds of carrot tops. Our food waste is smaller scale, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have big ideas about what to do with it. And so, my friends, here’s my take on jazzing up a few leftover meatballs.