12 Recipes to Make Tonight & Turn into Something Brand New Tomorrow

October 24, 2016

A fridge stocked full of leftovers is always a reward... except when it's a burden. Like when you're feeding a group of 2 but you made a recipe that serves 6 to 8 and you're stuck eating the same good-tasting but not three-nights' worth over and over again. Like Groundhog's Day.

Leftovers are more of a reward when those leftovers can easily become something entirely new. By picking a versatile, flavor-flexible dish with the leftovers in mind—not just that you will eat them, but that you will cook with them—the prospect of eating "leftovers" for dinner becomes a little more exciting.

These 12 recipes shift seamlessly into dinners unrecognizable, but just as good, the next day:

When leftover meatballs relax into leftover tomato sauce, they can be a filling for lasagna or the sauce for a baked pasta. And, of course, they're happy on a sub.

You can make the ragu completely ahead, even a day or two before. And whatever is leftover can be served over polenta, in tacos, on sandwiches, or frozen to await more dinners.

Food52er Aliwaks turned leftover megedarra into great veggie burgers: Of the 3 cups she had leftover, she blended about 1 cup with an egg, grated carrots, fresh parsley, and cilantro, then folded it into the remaining 2 cups, shaped into patties, and sautéed in olive oil. Leftover megedarra will also take well to the fried rice treatment.

Risotto today is arancini tomorrow.

On night one, make mashed sweet potatoes into a meal by serving them under a salmon fillet, stewy black beans, or a soft-boiled egg or two. The next day, use them to bind veggie burgers, to fluff up dinner rolls, or to add moisture to falafel.

Broccoli Cooked Forever can become soup cooked in no time. (Same with roasted cauliflower.)

We probably don't need to tell you all the gazillions of ways you can repurpose roast chicken, right?

Crumble any leftover quinoa and mustard green cakes (or fried green meatlessballs, for that matter), then recrisp them on the stove. Mix into a rice casserole; use as the filling for enchiladas, burritos, or quesadillas; or toss into a salad of sturdy greens.

Layer the pancakes in a baking dish lasagna-style, with additional cooked greens, tomato sauce, and mozzarella and/or ricotta cheese. Bake until hot and bubbling.

Turn a chunky soup or stew into a flavorful sauce for your grain bowl or roasted vegetables—here's how.

Whisk together eggs, mix in the leftovers, then transfer to a skillet, and cook on the stove (or in the oven) until set. Voilà: pasta frittata!

Enjoy pulled pork as an impressive roast one night, then let the leftovers guide you to sandwiches, tacos, nachos, and huevos rancheros.

Need more ideas for recipes that you can repurpose umpteen times? Look no further!

What's the most versatile, anything-is-possible dinner recipes you know? Tell us in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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