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11 Ways to Enjoy Leftovers (Without the Microwave)

by
author image Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a chef, nutritionist, recipe developer, media personality and award-winning cookbook author. She’s a culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education and frequent contributor to Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. Her newest book is the second edition of "The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook."

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11 Ways to Enjoy Leftovers (Without the Microwave)
Jackie Newgent

Got leftovers? Don’t trash them — make them new again. Eating everything you cook not only saves time and money, it's good for the planet. When you’re not tossing food scraps out with the trash, you're helping reduce greenhouse gases from entering the environment. The best part of using leftovers for new meals is that the hard part is already done. All you have to do is think of easy and clever ways to put it all together. Still skeptical? You absolutely won’t be after trying these 11 tasty leftover recipes.

1. Garden Pesto Linguine (Leftover: Tossed Wilted Salad)
Jackie Newgent

1 GARDEN PESTO LINGUINE (LEFTOVER: TOSSED WILTED SALAD)

Too often a tossed salad that you don't finish (or start!) at lunch or dinner winds up in the garbage. But don’t toss it out -- transform it into pesto. Yes, wilted leftover salad is a terrific starter for a fresh-tasting garden pesto sauce that’s loaded with antioxidants. It works best with an Italian-style salad: Just give it a whirl in a blender with nuts, garlic, Romano or Parmesan cheese and sea salt. Toss it with pasta and grape tomatoes. Even better? You can eat it hot or cold. Win-win. CALORIES: 451

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

2. Pan-Asian Flatbread (Leftover: Stir-Fry)
Jackie Newgent

2 PAN-ASIAN FLATBREAD (LEFTOVER: STIR-FRY)

If you've ever had Thai chicken pizza you understand the amazing flavor combination. This recipe uses leftover Chinese takeout stir-fry like chicken with broccoli -- no rice needed. The rest requires just a handful of ingredients and a little skill. Toss the cold stir-fry with some bottled natural Thai peanut sauce. Then top whole-grain naan or other flatbread with this peanut mixture, mozzarella cheese, red bell pepper and some scallion. Bake until crisp, finish with more scallion, roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro. CALORIES: 350

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

3. Portobello Spaghetti Pies (Leftover: Spaghetti With Marinara Sauce)
Jackie Newgent

3 PORTOBELLO SPAGHETTI PIES (LEFTOVER: SPAGHETTI WITH MARINARA SAUCE)

Made too much spaghetti last night? That's a good thing because now you'll be able to make savory pies that might be tastier than that bowl of pasta. Meaty portobello mushroom caps, which are packed with vitamin D, are the base of these pies. Sprinkle them with fresh garlic and sea salt, top with cold spaghetti marinara and finish with mozzarella cheese. Bake until golden, then drizzle with olive oil and fresh basil. CALORIES: 310

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

4. Broccoli Hash With Eggs (Leftover: Steamed Broccoli)
Jackie Newgent

4 BROCCOLI HASH WITH EGGS (LEFTOVER: STEAMED BROCCOLI)

Kick your leftover steamed veggies up a notch by sauteing them with shallots, sea salt and hot pepper flakes — that's all it takes to make them taste better than before. This prep is kind of like hash browns, but uses broccoli in place of potatoes -- ideal if you’re keeping total carbs in check. What does a vegetable hash go well with? Scrambled eggs, of course. CALORIES: 260

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

5. Sonoma Grilled Chicken Breast Salad Tartines (Leftover: Grilled Chicken Breast)
Jackie Newgent

5 SONOMA GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST SALAD TARTINES (LEFTOVER: GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST)

Turn boring grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast into a tasty new take on chicken salad. Load it onto large slices of whole-grain sourdough toasts and you've just created a trendy tartine. The chicken salad itself is loaded with nutritional richness from the powerful polyphenols in grapes and the high concentration of antioxidants in pecans, not to mention the quality protein from the chicken. CALORIES: 373

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

6. Mexican Fried Rice and Beans (Leftover: Steamed Rice)
Jackie Newgent

6 MEXICAN FRIED RICE AND BEANS (LEFTOVER: STEAMED RICE)

Start with chilled leftover steamed rice, like the last bit of brown rice from last night’s Chinese takeout. Stir-fry it in a little oil over high heat, add mild salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) and pinto beans and finish with quartered grape tomatoes and fresh cilantro. It takes less than five minutes to fry up in a pan. Not only have you used up all your leftovers, it’s now part of a perfectly balanced vegan entree. CALORIES: 469

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

7. Pizza “French Toast” Bruschetta (Leftover: Cheese Pizza Slice)
Jackie Newgent

7 PIZZA “FRENCH TOAST” BRUSCHETTA (LEFTOVER: CHEESE PIZZA SLICE)

Cold pizza is still good the next day, but it's even better in this recipe that fuses pizza, French toast and bruschetta. Soak a cold slice of leftover cheese pizza in an egg mixture, cook it in a skillet just like French toast, then top with a fresh salsa made with tomato, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s loaded with lycopene for your heart and filled with Italian flair for your palate. CALORIES: 322

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

8. Mashed Potato Soup (Leftover: Mashed Potatoes)
Jackie Newgent

8 MASHED POTATO SOUP (LEFTOVER: MASHED POTATOES)

Comfort food is made over into a refined soup. This broth-based soup gets its body from leftover mashed potatoes. The earthy profile of mushroom broth creates its distinct savoriness. Go ahead and buy a carton of the broth; you don’t need to make it from scratch. For non-vegetarians, you can sub in chicken broth. Either way, you’ll get plenty of antioxidants naturally from the potatoes. Don’t forget the flavorful garnishes to add color and texture to your bowl. CALORIES: 271

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

9. Turkey, Apple and Cheddar Quesadilla (Leftover: Roasted Turkey)
Jackie Newgent

9 TURKEY, APPLE AND CHEDDAR QUESADILLA (LEFTOVER: ROASTED TURKEY)

The typical food dilemma after a big family dinner is figuring out what to do with leftover turkey or ham. Sound familiar? Sure, you can always make a sandwich, but if you’ve got a few extra minutes, you can make a quesadilla that celebrates every food group. Fill whole-wheat tortillas with finely diced, roasted turkey breast (ham works too) along with thinly sliced apple, sharp cheddar cheese, scallions, black pepper and fresh rosemary. It only takes three minutes to cook each quesadilla. Honey mustard provides the finishing touch. CALORIES: 464

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

10. Personal Panzanella (Leftover: Stale Bread)
Jackie Newgent

10 PERSONAL PANZANELLA (LEFTOVER: STALE BREAD)

Whether you have a day-old bread roll, half a bagel, bread ends from a sandwich loaf or other bready leftovers, they’re all equally good in a bread-based salad. Many cultures have a salad for their unique breads, such as the popular Tuscan salad called panzanella. Use slightly stale whole-grain bread for extra fiber and antioxidants. The resulting salad is full of flavor, bursting with tomatoes and just the right size for a single serving. Transform it into a Middle Eastern “fattoush-style” salad using lemon juice and mint instead of vinegar and basil. CALORIES: 361

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

11. Vegetable and Goat Cheese Panini (Leftover: Grilled Vegetables)
Jackie Newgent

11 VEGETABLE AND GOAT CHEESE PANINI (LEFTOVER: GRILLED VEGETABLES)

If you have leftover grilled vegetables, you can make a savory sandwich — only this time, skip the cold cuts and make the veggies the “meat” of a sandwich. Make a tangy spread by whirling together goat cheese, Greek yogurt, white balsamic vinegar, garlic and black pepper, then smear it on a whole-grain bun. Fill it with the grilled veggies and toast in a panini grill. CALORIES: 280

Related: See Complete Recipe and Nutritional Info in LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you enjoy using leftovers? Why or why not? Do you compost food scraps or plan to start doing so soon? What’s your favorite preparation with leftovers? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Related: 10 Surprising Flat-Belly Foods

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