When you’re staring down the barrel of days-old leftovers, it’s almost impossible to summon up the creativity to do something, anything, besides shovel them into your mouth in front of an open fridge. There’s no shame in the fridge-shovel game, but breathing new life into the last dregs of yesterday's feast is as easy as picking up a pack of dumpling skins or wonton wrappers.
I’ll cop to a bias here: I could eat stuffed pasta of any kind, from any culinary tradition in the world, for every meal of every day until I dropped dead and never get sick of them. But even if I didn’t feel that way, I’d still think dumplings were an unbeatable vehicle for leftovers.
Somehow, wrapping a spoonful of a casserole you’re tired of in a circle of dough turns it into something new and exciting — and literally anything can go inside a dumpling. Turkey and gravy? Sure. Mashed potatoes? Mmm, pierogi. Stuffing? Definitely; nothing wrong with some hot carb-on-carb action. A little bit of everything, mashed together into a festive paste? Now you’re talking.
Making dumplings seems intimidating, but it’s pretty easy: Add a heaped teaspoon of filling to the middle of a wrapper, wet the edges with a finger dipped in water, fold in half, and seal tightly with your fingers or a fork. Repeat.
If you want to try fancier folds, YouTube has tons of videos on different techniques. I like this short-and-sweet number from the Oregonian, which features the owners of Wei Wei. Best of all, you can really make a party out of it: bring out your leftovers, queue up a movie marathon, and have some friends bring their leftovers, dumpling skins, and booze. Mix and match fillings to your heart’s content, steam or fry ‘em up to feed the crowd, and send everyone home with their very own bag of dumplings.
Honestly, if dumpling gift bags were the default party favour, I’d go to way more parties.