We all love the atmosphere and convenience of Charlottesville’s many great dining spots, but sometimes it’s hard to beat the ambiance of your kitchen table and the convenience of dining in your bathrobe. What’s more, some foods actually improve overnight. Here are five local dishes that taste even better with just a little age on them.—Meredith Barnes
Continental Divide’s Santa Fe enchilada: It’s hard to imagine anything more satisfying than having this stacked beauty delivered to your table with the customary “Top plate’s hot!” warning, but reheated or cold, the saucy, spicy Santa Fe just gets better.
Taste of China’s mu shu pork (1): No matter which restaurant it comes from, Mu Shu always comes up one pancake short. That’s okay, because leftovers of Taste of China’s perfectly-cooked version, topped with a little plum sauce, taste great straight out of the takeout container.
Las Palmas Bakery’s tres leches cake (2): The milk syrup that makes up one of the “tres” in this not-too-sweet Mexican classic saturates the layers overnight, making for a sublime breakfast with a strong cup of cinnamon-dusted coffee.
Christian’s fresh mozzarella pizza: Dressed up with a salad for lunch or eaten straight out of the fridge (plates are for wimps), this basic tomato-basil-and-cheese slice tastes even better after the flavors have a chance to meld.
Milan Indian Cuisine’s kalonji chicken: Like most Indian food, Kalonji Chicken tastes deeper the next day. This fragrant blend of chicken, peppers and onions seasoned with a complex spice paste, mint and nigella seeds sautés up beautifully with leftover basmati rice.
When you want to bring your leftovers back to life, but need to eat stat, reach for the parmesan. Best if it’s a freshly shaved flurry from a chunk of real Parmigiano-Reggiano, but even the pre-grated imitators can do the trick. Nutty, salty and addictive with naturally-occurring glutamate (what manmade MSG tries to replicate), this king of cheeses will revive everything—soup to nuts.
Next time you’re tempted to eat to the point of discomfort because you don’t think what’s left is worth saving, put down that chicken leg and get creative.
Make a sandwich with sliced pork tenderloin and a smear of the chutney or honey dijon you served it with. Pile a few of the sautéed greens (anything from broccoli rabe to kale) from dinner on top.
Only ate three of the four NoBull Veggie Burgers you got at the City Market? Crumble up that fourth one over some greens, add your leftover burger toppings (avocado, red onion, tomatoes, pickles) and drizzle with olive oil and your favorite vinegar. Cube up and toast the leftover hamburger bun as croutons.
Shred leftover roasted chicken and mix it with lime juice and a sprinkle of ground cumin. Top a tortilla with shredded cheese, the chicken and some black beans and cook on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven until the cheese melts and the tortilla crisps. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, diced avocado and sour cream.—Megan Headley