Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples -- or your seasonal produce -- every which way.
I am a big believer in using leftovers as the starting point for new meals, and chicken is always my go-to. It is easy to use and lends itself well to so many different flavors. I will often cook two chickens on Sunday to be sure I have plenty to spare, then make one of these recipes later in the week. From pasta to salad to soup, tarts, or pies, I hope you find something here that will inspire you to get busy with chicken in the kitchen. Here are five ways to revitalize the chicken at the back of your refrigerator:
Winter Chicken Salad
This salad is a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken -- it's light enough for summer, but hearty enough for winter. The neutral chicken base provides a nice texture for building building a deeper flavor with elements like slightly peppery watercress, salty blue cheese, sweet roasted red onion, and caramel-coated salted walnuts -- which might be the best part of this salad! I pair the salad with a light dressing made of walnut oil, vinegar, and caster sugar to complement the sweet and nutty flavors.
Leftover Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup is such a classic -- and for good reason. It's the perfect wholesome food for when you’re feeling a little under the weather. The great thing about this soup is that it delivers all the homemade comfort with minimal effort -- it takes roughly twenty minutes to cook the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and pepper. Once the chicken, noodles, and broth are added, it only takes another five minutes. For me the secret ingredient is a pinch of cloves, a flavor that always reminds me of my mother.
Chicken, Potato, Brie, and Thyme Tart with Onion Jam
This has to be the most decadent way to use up leftover chicken and boiled potatoes. This incredibly rich tart -- so rich you only need one slice -- is unbelievably tasty and satisfying, and pairs perfectly with a lightly dressed salad. A puff pastry shell is filled with sweet caramelized onions, chunks of potato and chicken, and dots of brie. The whole pie is baked in a creamy egg filling, then sprinkled with a little thyme. It is worth cooking two chickens at a time to make sure you have enough leftovers for this alone.
Cheat’s Chicken Pie
In a family with one "meat and potatoes" son, another nearly-vegetarian son, and a husband who is always looking for a healthy option, this is the unifying dish that no one can resist. An absolute favorite, this Cheat’s Chicken Pie is packed with creamy chicken and leeks hidden in flaky puff pastry. Once the butter, onions, celery, leeks, bay leaves, and salt and pepper have been cooked, it's a matter of placing the ingredients along with the chicken into a puff pastry with milk and chicken broth. For me, it's the ultimate easy Sunday night dinner, and it's made even more delicious when paired with tomato chutney and mashed potatoes.
Penne with Chicken, Chorizo, and Chile
After my husband and I had just bought our first home -- and were as poor as church mice -- he would often open the refrigerator door and say, “There’s nothing to eat!” I would scoff, scrounge around, then make something exactly like this -- an affordable, tasty, hearty pasta dish that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It's also relatively easy to make -- simply cook the onion until caramelized with sun-dried tomatoes, chile flakes, garlic, and chorizo, then add white wine, chicken, and cream to create a creamy onion sauce to pour over the cooked penne with some pesto and Parmesan cheese.
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 dash chile flakes, to taste
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
3 chorizo sausages, sliced
400 grams penne pasta
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups roast chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus some for serving
1 handful chopped parsley, plus some for serving
5 tablespoons basil pesto, to taste
Photos by Sarah Tuck