How to Transform Your Fall Leftovers

October  8, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. This post is brought to you by our friends at Weight Watchers, who celebrate gathering together around the table to enjoy wholesome, beautiful food.

Today: Give your leftovers a lift.

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After a summer of spending all our free moments outside, the shift in the weather changes our mood. Suddenly we want to be turning on our ovens, inviting friends over, and cooking long, comforting meals. We’re spending our weekends baking pies instead of picnicking in the park, and we’re more than okay with that. 

However, the more you cook, the more leftovers you create. And while we're excited about the dinners we’re whipping up, we find ourselves significantly less enthused for the sorry state they may be left in the next day, piled high in storage containers in the fridge.

But there’s a way to be proactive about this dire situation. With a few twists and tweeks yesterday’s leftovers can become today’s all-star breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Here’s how to give your leftovers a makeover:

Embrace the frittata.
Make your dinner breakfast by transforming it into a frittata, which is the perfect vehicle for leftovers. Reheat your braised greens or roasted potatoes in a skillet, add in enough whisked eggs to just cover them, and cook until the eggs are set and you have a whole new meal. Frittatas are infintely adaptable -- add in shredded cheese, cooked sausage, beans, or even leftover spaghetti to make a frittata that's all your own.  


Get soup savvy.
Roasted vegetables are a great base for puréed soups. Throw last night’s roasted vegetables into a pot with vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, letting the vegetables cook until mashable. Then remove from the heat and purée with an immersion blender, or use a regular blender and blend in batches. Season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings of your choice, and you’ve got yourself dinner from last night’s side.


Go from rice to riches.
Turn leftover plain rice into dessert by making rice pudding. Or if you’d rather go the savory route, stir-fry it with ginger and garlic and top it with a fried egg to make it a whole new meal. If you’re working with leftover risotto, look no further then risotto cakes. Form scoops of leftover risotto into patties and pan-fry them until their outsides become crisp and their insides heat through. Pack the cakes for lunch or serve alongside a green salad for an easy weeknight dinner.

More: Risotto doesn't have to be limited to rice. Try making farro risotto.


Sandwich it.
The perfect fall Sunday ends with the perfect fall supper, which often centers around a long-cooked roast. Come Monday, when we are running around in our beginning of the week craziness, these leftovers are a godsend. Make a killer chicken salad from leftover roast chicken or pile shreds of last night’s pork shoulder onto a roll with barbecue sauce for an enviable pulled pork sandwich.


Get Baking.
If you baked too many sweet potatoes or went a little overbord with the amount of squash you puréed, transform them into something sweet. Use them as you would pumpkin purée, in orange-tinged biscuits or a warm quickbread.

How do you makeover your leftovers? Tell us in the comments!

This post is brought to you by Weight Watchers. Need ideas for dinner tomorrow? They've got you covered. Show us what you're cooking with the hashtag #biteintolife!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Penny Hammack
    Penny Hammack
  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
Sheela Prakash is a food and wine writer, recipe developer, and the author of Salad Seasons: Vegetable-Forward Dishes All Year and Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. Her writing and recipes can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Kitchn, Epicurious, Food52, Serious Eats, Tasting Table, The Splendid Table, Simply Recipes, Culture Cheese Magazine, Clean Plates, and Slow Food USA. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, holds Level 2 and Level 3 Awards in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), graduated from New York University's Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and is also a Registered Dietitian.


Penny H. November 27, 2014
I call my all time favorite Turkey Carcass Soup - I boil the bones and any meat left on the bones to make stock. Then remove the bones and use the resulting broth to make soup, adding pasta, rice or barley and veggies along with any leftover meat to make a hearty soup. Freeze the leftovers and have soup all winter.
Stephanie B. October 9, 2014
Hands down my favorite Thanksgiving recipe: red posole using homemade stock from the turkey carcass, and leftover shredded turkey meat. Oh also my husband makes amazing spaghetti and meatballs by adding the leftover gravy into the meatball mix. It sounds weird but it gives the meatballs a great taste and texture.