Ideas to Create New Dishes with Leftovers

By Chef Kathy Fang

Being in the restaurant industry and seeing the amount of food waste that happens, it always pains me to see people not take home leftovers.

I have the same sentiment when it comes to food that I prepare at home. I hate wasting food even if it’s not a lot of it. My husband on the other hand doesn’t like to eat leftovers. He won’t eat the same thing the next day if it’s presented to him the same way. Let’s say we have leftover pasta or leftover steak from a dinner out, he won’t reheat that and eat it the next day. And because of this, I’ve become rather adept at repurposing leftovers and turning them into new tasty dishes.

Below are our 3 Household Favorite Leftovers

1. Leftover Risotto – Risotto Cakes with Lemon Arugula

This is one of my favorite recipes for using leftover risotto. In fact, I always make extra risotto just so I can have leftovers.

This is such an easy makeover that there is no actual recipe involved. Simply heat up a non-stick pan to high heat with a teaspoon of avocado oil. Form little balls with the leftover cold risotto and flatten with the palm of your hand (less than 1 inch thick). Pan fry the flattened risotto rounds until golden brown on both sides. Be sure to cook it over medium heat first, then finish it off on high heat. Season finished cakes with a little salt and black pepper. Garnish with arugula and squeeze a wedge of lemon over it.

2. Leftover Fried Chicken – Rice Cooker Spanish Chicken Rice

I came up with this idea after my husband’s 40th surprise birthday party at his favorite fried chicken spot. We brought home so much leftover fried chicken from that night, I was worried we’d have trouble finishing it. Remember how I said my husband doesn’t eat leftovers? Well, he does make an exception for fried chicken. He will reheat fried chicken in an oven and eat that. But this time our problem was the sheer amount of fried chicken we had. Even I didn’t want to eat fried chicken three days in a row. So, I deboned the chicken and boiled it to make a light chicken broth. And decided to cook the chicken with rice. Check out my recipe below for this fabulous dish.

Baked Spanish Fried Chicken Rice


  • Leftover Fried Chicken (Deboned)
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth (made from the bones of the fried chicken)
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Debone chicken and boil bones in a pot with 3 cups of water for 30 minutes. Remove bone, strain the broth, and set aside. Tear chicken with your hands into smaller chunks.
  2. Wash the rice until water runs clear. Add water and chicken broth to pot along with water.
  3. Bring to a boil and add butter, bay leaf, salsa, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
  4. Stir to incorporate.
  5. Turn heat down to low and place lid on top. Cook for 50 minutes and turn heat off. Mix rice with a spoon and place lid back on for 5 more minutes.
  6. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed!

3. Leftover Steak – Steak Lettuce Wraps

Nobody ever wants to waste a good piece of steak, but more often than not we find ourselves stuffed to the brim with all the delicious sides that come with it and end up with a box of leftover steak. It happens every time for us, but I love it! That means, I don’t really have to cook the next day. This lighter makeover is perfect after a night of heavy eating.

Steak Lettuce Wraps

Serves 2


  • 2 cups leftover steak, dice into little cubes of steak
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup finely minced red onions
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 1 ½ cup diced zucchini
  • 6-8 lettuce cups
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil


  1. Marinate steak with cornstarch, soy, fish sauce, and lime juice for 5 minutes
  2. Heat a skillet to high heat with oil. Pour steak in and stir fry for 2 minutes and set aside.
  3. Add onions and zucchini to the skillet and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add steak back in with hoisin sauce and stir.
  4. Serve alongside lettuce cups and extra hoisin sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh herbs or slivered almonds for added crunch!

Try New Innovations of leftover food to create new interesting healthy versions of recipes.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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