Chicken Pomodoro Paninis
Ravioli with Chicken and Basil
Santa Fe Chicken Pizza
Chicken Salad with Grapes & Almonds
So we’ve talked about how to roast a chicken, now, what to do with all those leftovers? Cooking for two, I find myself with almost a full chicken left after our first meal. So as not to be wasteful (with food or money) I make sure I use up all the chicken meat before it goes bad, even if it means having chicken for dinner for the rest of the week. With a little creativity you can create 4 meals (give yourself a break and cook a steak on Wednesday) with the same cooked chicken and never get bored. Each of these recipes offer a different flavor profile, and are quick, easy recipes that are very manageable for weeknight meals.
This recipe is based off a sandwich that Panera offered last winter (it was their seasonal panini – and I loved it). I waited all year for it to return, but it never did. Apparently the rest of the country did not enjoy it as much as myself. So I decided to try to recreate it myself at home…it was a simple combination of tomato sauce, basil, chicken, and fresh mozzarella. The first key to a good panini is to use good bread. Because your main ingredient is a left-over, go ahead and splurge on an artisan loaf. I use my own homemade tomato sauce, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Layer on a couple of nice basil leaves with your chicken and cheese and you are ready to go. A Foreman grill doubles as a panini press (no need for fancy machines for this one). If you do not have a Foreman grill, you can either use a grill pan or simple frying pan. To recreate the “press” part of the panini grill, place a small plate on top of your sandwich and weight down with a canned good. Flip and replace the weight.
Now I know this may seem like a big undertaking for a weeknight meal, but I promise this is easier than it seems. The ravioli dough is in its simplest form….flour and water. The dough needs to rest for only 10 minutes and during that time, you can assemble your filling (a great blend of ricotta cheese, Parmesan, basil and shredded chicken). When the dough is ready, roll out a rectangle. Place large tablespoons full of filling an inch apart and then fold over the other half of the dough. Use a round cookie cutter and voila, you have made ravioli from scratch in under 30 minutes. A quick boil and simple sauce of good olive oil and lemon zest, and you have a wonderful pasta dish for dinner.
I love to make pizzas – anytime of year. I like them most for their time-friendly aspects. For the crusts, you have several options. The first (and fastest) is to use a pre-baked crust right from the grocery store. While not the best taste and texture wise, the convenience factor makes up for it. Second option is to buy raw pizza dough and bake the pizza at home. You can also find pizza dough at grocery stores, or try your local pizza place and ask if they sell raw dough. To me, this is the best of both worlds – not only do you get a great tasting, homemade crust, but someone else does all the work. Third option is to make your own, but the point of this is quick mid-week meals, so let’s be realistic. Pizza is also a great way to use up leftovers. From meat to veggies, any leftovers make great pizza toppings. For this particular chicken pizza, I substituted a black bean paste for the tomato sauce, layered that with cheddar cheese, and frozen corn I had in my freezer. After a quick bake in a hot oven, I topped the pizza with pico de giao, ( a jarred salsa would work just as well), avocado slices, and fresh cilantro.
Well there is no easier left-over dish than a simple chicken salad. I spice mine up with sliced grapes and almonds. I love the crunch of the almonds and the sweet surprise of the grape. Serve this in sandwiches, wraps, or over greens. While not always the healthiest choice because of the mayonnaise, I try to use as little as possible and make a “dryer” chickien salad, using only enough light mayo to coat the chicken. The grapes help to offset the “dry” aspect that can occur when less mayo is used.
Recipe: Chicken Pomodoro Paninis
Recipe: Ravioli with Chicken and Basil
Recipe: Santa Fe Pizza