Normally, I am absolutely terrible with leftovers. They tend to sit in the fridge where I ignore them and they go off or I just reheat them and eat a boring meal which reminds me of the meal from the day before – oh wait, it *is* the same meal. Unless I plan something in advance, I’m unlikely to grab those leftovers and make something new and exciting from them. It’s not like I don’t know what to do with them – I know that leftover pasta can be mixed with eggs to make a pasta frittata, leftover stews can go into a pie, leftover roasts into salads or sandwiches or soups – but when faced with something that needs using up, my mind goes blank instantly and I resort to heating it up and eating it as is. Dull dull dull. (Well, unless it’s a cold cooked sausage – those are nice!) How do you deal with leftovers?

But no, I will learn to use leftovers more creatively – I have managed a little in the past! Recently, I found myself with a quantity of leftover mashed potatoes from a meal of sausages and mash. The last thing I wanted was to reheat it and stick a few more sausages into it and so I actually had to think about it for a while before coming up with fish cakes. I like the fish cakes I’ve had in restaurants – surely I could make something like that with leftover mash and a tin of tuna? Call them poor man’s fish cakes if you must.

Tuna and Potato Cakes

This is a very basic recipe and it’s easy to enhance it with more herbs, some chopped vegetables or even substitute the tuna for cooked salmon or chopped leftover cooked meats.

Tuna and Potato Cakes
serves 2-3.

about 600g leftover mashed potatoes
1 tin tuna packed in oil
a small handful parsley
salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
dry breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying

Flake the tuna and mix it and the parsley with the mashed potatoes. Season with lots of pepper and salt if needed (your leftover mashed potatoes are probably already seasoned well).

In a small shallow bowl, beat the egg along with about 2 teaspoons of water. In another small shallow bowl or plate, fill with dry breadcrumbs. Form fish cakes/patties out of the mashed potato mixture – I find it easiest to form a tight round sphere and then gently flatten it. Dip the cake into the beaten egg, making sure to coat it entirely, and then toss it through the breadcrumbs. Set aside. Continue with the rest of mixture – I ended up making about 15 from the amount I had.


Heat a frying pan over medium heat and pour in sunflower oil to about a 1cm depth. Fry the cakes in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) for a couple minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown.

Frying the Cakes

Drain them on kitchen paper and serve with a wedge of lemon and salad on the side.