I don’t know about you, but I always have leftover rice whenever I make rice. It’s impossible to make just enough rice for two people; I can’t find a good method that serves less than four and still makes good rice.
But fortunately, for every leftover problem, there’s the perfect leftover dish. For rice, it’s fried rice. In fact, fried rice doesn’t even work with freshly made rice. It requires rice that’s been refrigerated, and is dry and a little clumpy.
Fried rice plays well with other leftovers as well. Throw in all those little bits of leftover meat and vegetables that wind up in the crisper drawers, and you’ll end up with a tasty meal every time. It even works for breakfast!
Here’s my recipe for breakfast fried rice (which is also good for dinner). To customize, just substitute for the meat and vegetables whatever you happen to find in your fridge. You can use pretty much anything you’d throw into any stir-fry.
Breakfast Fried Rice
Time to make: ~15 minutes
What you need:
- 1-2 tbsp. peanut oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 sausage links (best if pre-cooked)
- ½ onion, diced
- 10 or so mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup leftover, cooked rice
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- Heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high in a wok or large nonstick skillet.
- Scramble the eggs until just set and remove to a plate; let cool and shred.
- Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil.
- Add the sausage, mushrooms and onion, and stir-fry until browned.
- Reduce the heat, if necessary, and add the cabbage; stir-fry until wilted.
- Add the rice, egg and soy sauce, and stir-fry until warmed through and all the ingredients are well mixed.
- Stir in the sesame oil and serve.
There will always be leftovers. So what to do with them that’s fun, creative and not just leftovers? These potato croquettes are one answer, if you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes. They make an equally tasty entree for breakfast or dinner. In fact, they are so yummy that you may make mashed potatoes just so you can have them. That’s okay, too.
Time to make: ~45 minutes with leftover mashed potatoes
Combine in a bowl:
- 2 servings (1½ cups) leftover mashed potatoes
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup grated cheese (your choice)
- 3 oz. cooked or smoked, flaked salmon (optional)
- 1 tbsp. parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- enough bread crumbs to hold the mixture together
Form into 4 patties and let chill on wax paper in the freezer for around 30 minutes .Coat each patty in bread crumbs. Heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high. Brown each patty for 5 minutes per side.
It is really useful to have a recipe for refried beans in your repertoire. Not only is this a good way to use up leftover cooked beans, but it also works fine with canned beans. Refried beans make a tasty side dish but can also be used to stuff burritos, as a filling for a Southwestern-style omelet or even as the basis for a bean dip. Mine are pretty low in fat and purely vegetarian. Seasoning amounts are guidelines, so adjust freely according to your tastes and heat preferences.
Time to make: ~20 minutes
- 2 cups canned or pre-cooked beans, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 sprig epazote
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
- a dash liquid smoke
Heat the oil over medium. Saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the epazote, garlic, seasonings and liquid smoke. Stir around to mix the spices and add the beans. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash coarsely with a potato masher, if you like your beans chunky, or puree in the food processor, adding some of the bean liquid as needed to make the mixture smooth. Garnish as you like (see the note).
Notes: Pinto beans are traditional. I have also used kidney beans and black beans with good results. Cilantro, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, diced tomatoes, chopped green chiles and grated cheese are all appropriate garnishes.