At some point in all of our dining-out journeys, we encounter a restaurant that delivers on quantity but struggles in quality.
I encountered this scenario at Gumba’s in Sunnyvale, which boasts popular menu items such as Spinach Ravioli, Chicken Parmigiana and Vegetarian Lasagna Dela Casa. I hate wasting food, so I took this as an opportunity to reuse some leftovers and turn them into a meal that I could enjoy.
Dish of Choice
I chose Gumba’s because it was one of the restaurants featured on the select menu for downtown Sunnyvale’s Jazz & Beyond, an event where people can enjoy outdoor dining while listening to local musicians along the Historic Murphy Avenue.
I was hoping one of my favorite restaurants – Tarragon – would be featured on the menu because I was craving its Salmon entree with garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and sauce made with olive oil, lemon and herbs. Tarragon wasn’t part of the menu, so I chose Gumba’s, which was featuring its Grilled Salmon with Roasted Vegetables for about $17, plus tax.
To Gumba’s credit, the restaurant gave me a lot of food for what I paid. In addition to my entree, I also received a choice of soup or salad – I chose salad – two pieces of garlic bread and a side of rigatoni.
That being said, I did not enjoy my meal, therefore there is a lack of photos. The salmon was overcooked and lacked succulence and flavor; the salad was just romaine lettuce and a big slice of tomato, and the side of ranch was thin and runny; the garlic bread was hard and did not taste fresh; and the vegetables lacked that toasty look and flavor that comes with roasted vegetables.
Doctoring the leftovers
I took the remaining vegetables, salad, rigatoni and garlic bread home, determined to create something new the next day.
(Check out this video: Gumba’s Leftovers)
The rigatoni was tender, but there wasn’t much sauce. Luckily, I had some fresh zucchini on hand, so I chopped it up and sauteed it with a tablespoon of butter on low heat on a stove. I covered the skillet with a lid and occasionally stirred the zucchini for about 5 or so minutes (I didn’t want the zucchini to get too mushy).
After the zucchini was at the right amount of tenderness, I tossed the rigatoni into the skillet with the zucchini. I added a couple dashes of garlic powder and minced onion, along with pinches of salt and pepper. I covered the skillet with the lid and cooked the dish for another 5 or so minutes, stirring occasionally.
I plated my zucchini rigatoni and sprinkled it with herb and garlic feta. I also tried to revitalize the garlic bread by re-toasting it in the skillet with butter. However, the bread was already hard before, so re-toasting it just made it tougher.
However, I enjoyed the rigatoni. The zucchini added some needed freshness and the garlic powder and minced onion woke up the pasta sauce. I love cheese on my pasta, so I think the strong flavor of feta went a long way.
Overall, I’d say it was a leftover success.
In what creative ways have you reused restaurant leftovers? Feel free to comment below, but keep it civil, please :-).