If your fridge is teeming with tiresome leftovers, it may be time to pull a Professor Utonium and combine them into something greater. But since sloppily combining leftovers is sure to land you on the Boys Who Can Cook Instagram page, I enlisted a couple chefs for guidance. Here are their favorite leftover recipes — and how you can amalgamate all the random crap left in your fridge into something legitimately good…
Thai Fried Rice
Joy Piadamrong, lead chef for Thai cooking classes at The Chef & The Dish, says Thai fried rice can be made with all sorts of leftover ingredients. “Thai fried rice is a dish that we say is a ‘recycled’ dish,” she explains. “Anything you have left over will be delicious, and the best Thai fried rice is actually made with yesterday’s rice. If you have leftover rice, leftover cooked vegetables and even leftover chicken or seafood, you’ve got the foundation for the best fried rice you can make.”
“When you have leftover chicken or vegetables and some short-shaped pasta or grain, the answer is easy: Throw some dressing on it, and you’ve got yourself a quick-and-easy salad,” says Gason Nelson, lead chef for Creole cooking classes at The Chef & The Dish. “I love keeping roasted chicken in the refrigerator, because it lends itself to so many leftovers. If you have leftover pasta, you can make a fast chicken-and-pasta salad. If you have leftover vegetables, put some Greek vinaigrette on it, and you have a chicken-and-vegetable Greek salad. Marry the flavors together with seasoning, and you have an amazing meal made with leftovers.”
A Few Extra Ideas for Combining Leftovers
If you have chicken stock or canned, diced tomatoes on-hand, you can use them as a soup base, then toss in leftover meat and veg (and even canned beans). But if you want to add pasta or rice, make sure to throw it in at the end so it heats through, but doesn’t become mushy.
If you want another salad topper for your leftover-inspired salad, you can easily turn leftover bread into croutons: Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, lightly brush the bread with olive oil, cut it into cubes and bake for five to 10 minutes. Leftover cheese can be also tossed onto a salad, and eggs can be boiled to extend their life in your fridge (or so they can be used as a salad topper as well).
If fried rice, salad and soup aren’t your thing, you can always shred leftover rotisserie chicken or steak to make homemade tacos. Serve with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo, then grill up any leftover vegetables for fajitas if you want to be extra fancy. Or instead of making croutons, you can put that leftover bread to use by making chicken or steak sandwiches.
Finally, if you have any leftover fruit and yogurt sitting around, you can always make a parfait. Sweeten it up with a little honey, throw in some nuts and you have a decent breakfast of leftovers.
Hope that helps, and remember — slapping together random leftovers is the mother of innovation… or something like that.