When you're at a loss for what to make for dinner, it can help to look ahead to breakfast the next morning. Is this ignoring the matter at hand? Another form of procrastination? I prefer to see it as forward-thinking!
In high school, this meant begging my mom to order pizza so that I could have a cold slice in the car on the way to school; now, it means picking up the ingredients for tomato-eggplant curry or palak paneer (or, okay, buying take-out) not solely because that dish itself is good, but because it's best served over rice—and that means leftover rice to repurpose as breakfast tomorrow morning.
A container of cooked rice in the fridge shakes out to fried rice for breakfast in (almost) the same amount of time it'd take you to cook oatmeal.
Salty, bacony rice might not be the most common breakfast in the U.S., but in Japan, where the recipe creator Kathleen | Hapa Nom Nom's father is from, there's not as much of a "distinction between breakfast and the rest of the day's meals," she writes. "As a child, I can remember coming downstairs in the morning and seeing my father eating miso soup—I'm sure that sounds rather strange to most, but for most Asian cultures that's pretty common."
Breakfast Fried Rice isn't only a reason to create rice leftovers at dinner—it's also a home for any aimless leftovers—vegetables, raw or cooked; baked tofu; a half-can of beans—you've accumulated throughout the week. Caramelized onions? In! A knob of ginger you haven't made headway on? Grate it and throw it in the pan with the sliced scallions. A jar of kimchi you're fighting to finish? Roasted sweet potatoes or zucchini or eggplant? Into the pan with them!
Kaitlin Forster commented on the recipe that she throws in shredded broccoli and carrots when she adds the onion. She also recommends cooking the egg directly in the rice instead of frying it separately—one less dish to clean! Maybe you have Momofuku's Soy Sauce Eggs on hand already (gold star for you!): Those would make a great addition, too.
To make it even faster, prepare not just the rice but the whole fried rice situation ahead of time. The next morning, reheat it on the stove over low heat and add the egg.
However you customize it, be sure to use low-sodium soy sauce lest your fried rice taste like the sea. And if you've had trouble making a non-sticky, non-burnt pot of rice in the past (I can't be the only one), we have the perfect thing for you...
What's your favorite dinner leftover to eat for breakfast? Tell us in the comments!
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).
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.