Give Leftovers a Good Name
If “leftovers” is a dirty word in your household, it’s time to give that mindset an update. We’re not talking about simply zapping yesterday’s dinner in the microwave — that’s how leftovers got their bad reputation in the first place. Instead, use some elements of one night’s meal in an entirely new way a day (or two) later. That way, you can cook once, eat twice, and it never feels like a rehash.
Rolling over leftovers into another day’s meal means you’re really starting on second base the minute you step into the kitchen. Add some fresh elements, amp up the taste with a flavor-forward Simply Organic simmer sauce or seasoning mix, and suddenly you’ve scored a lunch or dinner home run with minimal effort.
When you use the tips and tricks that follow, you’ll easily be able to whip up a wholesome, organic meal that even confirmed leftover snobs will be excited about — and usually in well under 30 minutes.
Plan for Leftovers
Get in the habit of cooking more than you’d serve at one sitting. It takes virtually no extra time or effort to add a few more well-seasoned chicken thighs to your sheet-pan dinner, and lots of big cuts like braised beef or pork shoulder generally serve a crowd. Roast chicken, pulled pork and even baked or poached salmon all have great rollover potential, as do roasted vegetables. Even stews, chilies and soups can easily be turned into meals that seem light-years away from their first incarnation.
Pump Up the Flavors
What leftovers often lack is vibrancy, as many spices and seasonings can become muted in the refrigerator, so start with a well-seasoned dish. Bold Simply Organic simmer sauces, spices and seasoning mixes bring potent flavor to even quick-cooked meals, so you know your food will taste as good the second time around as it did on the first outing.
Then, let that flavor guide your rollover meal. Use the pork shoulder you slow-cooked with Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce to fill tasty meat and veggie wraps, or pile the pork on naan breads and sprinkle with cheese for a new take on flatbread pizzas. Make zesty fajitas or a comforting tortilla soup with the leftovers of the sheet-pan chicken meal you seasoned with Southwest Simmer Sauce or Seasoning Mix.
Change Up the Texture
A textural twist is one of the easiest ways to give leftovers a new lease on life. If you have leftover chunky bean chili in the fridge, fold it into a luxe skillet mac and cheese. A spicy vegetable curry is unrecognizable but just as delicious as a smooth, pureed soup when you thin it with broth and whir it in the blender. You can also add crunch with ingredients like toasted nuts, raw vegetables or roasted chickpeas.
Keep the Flavors Bright
Finally, add something with bite and tang to your rollover creation. A big squeeze of lime juice and an extra sprinkle of Southwest Taco Seasoning Mix will make the chicken in tonight’s fajitas taste as bold and fresh as it did on day one. Adding a dash of hot sauce and fresh or pickled vegetables to your salmon and rice bowl will transform last night’s Korean Style BBQ-glazed salmon into a nourishing organic meal in just minutes.
Here are three dinners that can easily be rolled over into brand-new meals. And if you’ve precooked and stored a few fundamental building blocks like rice, steamed veggies or beans, dinner will be on the table even more quickly. (Check out our Rollover Meals article for ideas and guidelines on batch cooking grains and other kitchen basics.) Once you get the hang of the rollover meal, you’ll soon see leftovers in a whole new light.
Rollover Number 1
First Night: Sheet-Pan Chicken With Sweet Potatoes, Peppers and Onions
Cut 2 large sweet potatoes, 3 bell peppers, and 1 red onion into chunks and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer. Pat 3 or 4 pounds chicken parts dry with paper towels. (If the breasts are very large, cut each in 2 pieces.) Loosen the skin around the breasts and thighs and rub a few spoonfuls of Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce underneath the skin, spreading it against the meat; save the remainder for your rollover meal.
Slather a little more sauce over the outside of the bird, season all over with salt and pepper (or Southwest Taco Seasoning Mix to really double down on flavor), and place on top of the vegetables. Roast in a 425° oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165° and the juices run clear, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve the chicken with the roasted vegetables.
Second Night: Chicken Fajitas
Shred the leftover roast chicken, place it in a baking dish, and toss with remaining Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce. Place the leftover roasted vegetables in a second baking dish. Cover both loosely with aluminum foil and place in a 350° oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, wrap flour tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm. Bring the baking dishes and tortillas to the table, along with sliced avocado, lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro, and let everyone assemble their own fajitas.
Rollover Number 2
First Night: Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Tikka Masala
Season a 5- to 6-pound boneless pork shoulder or butt all over with salt and pepper. Place in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, pour 1/2 cup of water around it, then cover and cook on low until the meat is tender and can be easily shredded, 10 to 12 hours. Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board or rimmed baking sheet.
Pour Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce into a saucepan with a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk and bring to a simmer. When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and place it in a large bowl. Toss with the sauce and serve portions over rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro.
Second Night: Cheesy Tikka Masala Flatbreads
Arrange store-bought naan on a baking sheet. Leaving about a 1/2-inch border, top each naan with some of the leftover pulled pork in its Tikka Masala sauce, along with a handful of torn baby spinach. Sprinkle generously with shredded mozzarella and bake in a 500° oven until the cheese is melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Rollover Number 3
First Night: Glazed Roast Salmon
Place 6 (6-ounce) center cut fillets of organic salmon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, skin-side down. Brush the tops liberally with General Tso's or Korean Style BBQ Simmer Sauce, reserving some for your rollover meal. Roast in a 400° oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the glaze is slightly caramelized and the fish flakes easily. Serve warm with roasted asparagus and parsleyed new potatoes.
Second Night: Salmon Protein Bowls (plus Salmon Salad bowl)
Warm cooked quinoa and mound it in individual serving bowls. Flake the leftover salmon into small chunks and make a small pile of fish atop the quinoa. Add a spoonful of edamame and bits of cooked, raw or preserved veggies such as steamed spinach, broccoli florets, pickled daikon or kimchi. Drizzle with a bit more of the original simmer sauce and a dash of hot sauce to taste, and add a fried egg if you like.
Rollover Number 4
First Night: Spicy Bean Chili
Dice a yellow onion and a green and red bell pepper. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Sauté the onion and peppers until softened, about 5 minutes, add the garlic and sauté a minute more. Pour in 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 (28-ounce) can organic fire-roasted tomatoes, 2 (15-ounce) cans organic black, pinto or kidney beans (or a combination), and a pouch of Southwest Taco Simmer Sauce.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper if desired. Serve with your choice of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, diced avocado, hot sauce, or a combination.
Second Night: Skillet Chili Mac and Cheese
Fill a large, oven-safe skillet with water and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt, add a 1/2 pound of dried elbow macaroni and cook, stirring frequently, a minute less than package instructions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the macaroni. Return the macaroni to the skillet and toss with 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Add a splash or two of pasta water, as needed, until the macaroni is coated in a creamy cheese sauce. Stir in 2 cups of leftover bean chili.
Spread the mixture out in an even layer, sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, and bake in a 450° oven until heated through, about 5 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the cheese on top is browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with pickled red onions or jalapeños.