Food

The Best Meal to Make With Leftovers

The Best Meal to Make With Leftovers

In her new cookbook, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen presents a solution to a perennial takeout conundrum: so much leftover rice. “I come from a long line of frugal people and cannot just throw it away,” she says. “My answer to almost all of life’s problems (or at least life’s excess-ingredient problems) is to make fritter-like pancakes. They’re easy, portable, kid-friendly and they offer a good balance of vegetables and indulgence.” So, to continue our month of weeknight dinners, we’re happy to share her recipe…

Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Fritters
By Deb Perelman, author of Smitten Kitchen Every Day

Even unbattered, cooked rice, vegetables, cheese and eggs together make a spectacular-enough pancake, so I wish I’d made this recipe much sooner. It’s delicious not only for predictable reasons (cheese) but because of this miraculous thing that rice does when it hits a well-oiled frying pan, which is to puff ever so slightly and crisp. These are so, so good. I want this to be your new back-pocket recipe.

Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Fritters
Serves 4, or more as a snack or side

You’ll need:

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups leftover rice or wild-rice blend, cooked
1 cup finely chopped parcooked broccoli florets
2 scallions, finely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar
Butter and olive oil, for frying

Using a fork, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Add the rice, broccoli, scallions and cheddar. Stir to combine.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Once it’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pat of butter; let them warm. Using a soup spoon, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into the pan, and lightly press the top so it flattens to about 1/2‑inch thickness. Here’s the essential bit: keep the heat low enough so that it takes a few minutes for the undersides to brown; if you move a fritter sooner, it will fall apart easily. But once the fritters are brown, the eggs have cooked and the cheese has melted, it’s much easier to flip and repeat on the other side. Make the rest of the fritters with the remaining rice mixture, giving it an occasional stir.

Thanks so much, Deb! Your new cookbook is absolutely wonderful.

Also, Joanna will be interviewing Deb in person this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. We would LOVE to meet you and hang out. Here are the details, if you’re interested. xo

P.S. A bodega challenge with Smitten Kitchen, and the best egg sandwich you’ll ever have.

(Recipe excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman. Copyright © 2017. Photo by Deb Perelman. Published by Knopf. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. This series is edited by Stella Blackmon.)

  1. Brandi S says...

    How strange! I’m actually snacking on these as I cruise Cup of Jo. They are, somehow, even more delicious than they look.

  2. Fritters were the comfort food of my childhood. This article spoke to me and I’m already licking my licks and thinking what kind of fritters I’m going to make for dinner tonight!

  3. Alice says...

    Ah, Smitten Kitchen, how I love you so. Deb’s swiss chard pancakes are amazing too (I use spinach and my pre-schoolers devour them) and her chocolate stout cake wins EVERY time. How I wish I was in NY tomorrow, instead I’ll be across the Atlantic, at a book club, and I’m taking along Deb’s winter fruit salad. Yes, Deb’s wonders have infiltrated my every day and her book is in the post!

  4. Margarida says...

    i grew up eating these. My mum does the best ones, with any leftovers around, rice, potatoes, or stale bread. just mix some veggies, protein, diced onions and eggs. they’re good warm or cold, with a salad. i’m Portuguese and we call them “tortas fritas” :)

  5. Sophie says...

    This looks so delicious, but please please PLEASE cook leftover rice thoroughly. Cooked, cooled & reheated rice is really high risk for food poisoning. Always cool leftover rice as quickly as possible then refridgerate and use within a day – making sure you reheat thoroughly. Don’t mean to be a spoilsport but you can get really sick from leftover rice! End of PSA.

    • Blandine says...

      I had no idea. Rice sounds like such a low risk food (compared to dairy or meat for example) that I was far from imagining that. Thanks!

  6. Jennifer says...

    this is Japanese! It’s called OKONOMIYAK. Add a drizzle of Japanese mayo and you’re good to go :)

  7. Elizabeth says...

    This morning I read this post and thought distantly that these rice pancakes looked good. This evening when I wondered how I would use the zucchini I had and saw I had a bowl of leftover rice, I immediately thought of the recipe. My sons and I all ate our zucchini-rice pancakes all up! Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. yum, this looks tasty and equally easy!

    I recently learned you can freeze rice. News to me! Portion 1-2 cups in plastic baggies and freeze. Use in fried rice, add to soups or add to meat and veg.

    • This is genius. I would have never thought. I add rice to soup all the time. I also just make what everyone calls ‘Amy’s Rice Bow.’ Heat up rice, scramble and egg and add on top, add chopped cucumber or steamed broccoli and a dash of soy sauce. Hits the spot every time and costs maybe $1?

  9. Mary says...

    I love Deb and Smitten Kitchen. Is it possible to use frozen vegetables?

  10. Pam says...

    Ahh – i just made these last night!! Love Deb’s new book. The whole fam (including 10 month old baby) scarfed them up.

  11. Abesha1 says...

    I’ve been making rice fritters for years… we prefer wild rice, generally, and like a yogurt/caper sauce for dipping.
    So tasty!

  12. Mary says...

    The best thing is that this is totally scalable and adaptable. My mind is churning with the possibilities.

  13. Lauren says...

    Can you please explain what it means for the broccoli to be “parcooked, cooked?” Thanks.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hi, Lauren! Thanks for the catch. It should be just parcooked! xo

  14. Nanette says...

    I live in Dallas, but just happen to have plans to be in NYC this weekend. Already emailed my husband and told him this has to happen. Two of my favorite bloggers under one roof — can’t wait!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yay!!! can’t wait to meet you, nanette!

  15. Anne says...

    I met Deb last night at an event here in Austin! She’s the best and her new book is FANTASTIC. I want to make everything. Would have loved to see you both though–what a great opportunity :) Next time, you should go on tour together! ;)

  16. Also, Deb’s caulifritters (from her blog) are GREAT.

  17. I love turning my leftover takeout into a fritter! Anytime I have leftovers that are soggy and sad, like tacos or most veggie burgers, I scrape out the main part, add some breadcrumbs and an egg or a bit more cheese, and fry it up. Works great! I bet it would be good with any rice-based dish too like thai or indian curry.

  18. Gretchen says...

    I’ll be there on Friday! I’m in Houston and when a friend from Brooklyn mentioned she was going to the event, I half-jokingly said I’d go with her. She was like, “no, really, you should come!” One plane ticket later, it’s now happening. :) Can’t wait!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, amazing, gretchen!!!!

    • OR we could have an event in Houston ;)

    • Anu says...

      She was at Blue Willow Books in Houston yesterday. Was great to finally meet her and get my books signed.

  19. Mmmm! This looks delicious. I am such a food lover and definitely need to try this out. Love this idea of using left overs to make a new meal. Such a great idea. Love this. Cannot wait to try this out.
    xo, Meghan

  20. Louisa says...

    I am entirely sure that Deb would be my best friend if we met in real life. I also think everyone must think this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      YES! same for sure.

    • Ellie says...

      YES! I talk to her while I cook (my husband things I’m crazy).

  21. Elisabeth says...

    My son is allergic to eggs, but these look awesome. I would love to ask Deb if she can think of any other way to bind these together (or if you commenters have any ideas). We use ground flax “eggs” for baking, and they work great, but not sure they’d do the job here.

    • Bridget says...

      I think the flax egg would work here- maybe even a chia egg. We often make pancakes using flax and/or chia.

    • Laurel says...

      Maybe a combo of flax egg and some mashed sweet potato? I’ve made some bean and sweet potato fritters that held together well without egg or flour.

    • Crystine says...

      I have a feeling the cheese will hold it all together but you could try a cooked potato left a little chunky, a little bit of flour or arrowroot powder ( 1 tablespoon arrowroot, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 cup water for each egg.)

    • Elisabeth says...

      Thanks so much, guys!

    • Laura says...

      Just use tahini!
      Xx

  22. Laurie says...

    My favorite way to use up leftover rice: homemade rice pudding. Equal parts cooked rice and milk (any kind) in a pan. Heat to simmering; simmer 15 minutes. Add sweetener, vanilla, raisins, etc, to taste. SO yummy & easy!!

  23. CJ says...

    What a brilliant repurpose of rice, this is one even my 2 year old would love. Another recycle recipe I love is Giada’s baked spaghetti pie (aka pizza de spaghetti)- a way to amp up your second/third/fourth night of pasta. It’s a winner.

    Ingredients

    2 large eggs
    1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 c left over spaghetti
    1/4 c extra-virgin olive oli

    Directions
    1. In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk and Parmesan cheese Season with salt and pepper. Add leftover spaghetti and mix well.

    2. In a large 10inch skillet, heat extra-virgin oil over medium heat. Add spaghetti and egg mixture, spreading evenly and pressing down in pan. Cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Carefully invert onto a plate, add a little more oil to the pan and slide mixture back into skillet and cook for 6 minutes. Turn out onto serving platter, cut into wedges and serve warm.

    If you love spaghetti and pizza.. you have the best of both worlds! You can play with the amounts too so if you have 4 cups of pasta left just double the recipe.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      YUM!!!

    • Joanna says...

      This reminds me of “fried spaghetti”… my favorite. Basically same principle as fried rice. Take leftover spaghetti, refrigerated with red sauce, and heat over medium-high on a pan with a combo of olive oil and butter. Heat until hot and with some nice crispy parts. Add extra salt and pepper and parm. It’s. So. Good.

  24. Brooke says...

    I love Deb and I love that she cooks in a small NYC apartment kitchen. She keeps it so real!

  25. Ooh…must check out the new cookbook. Agreed that Smitten Kitchen has some awesome recipes!

  26. Julie says...

    Love Smitten Kitchen (and Deb!) Her recipes never fail me! I have to try this one!

  27. Liz says...

    I love making leftover-fritters! Thank you for the reminder, let’s see if my toddlers will eat broccoli this way tonight ;)

  28. Jennie says...

    I have made similar things with quinoa, panko, grated carrot, parm, etc. They are always delicious!

  29. Amanda G says...

    Deb was such a driving force behind my own learning how to cook, and I will forever be in her debt! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon her blog, but her delicious sounding recipes and easy directions led me to make zucchini-ricotta galette, tomato-corn pie (a perennial favorite), lemon-ricotta pancakes, raspberry buttermilk cake, and challah bread, among soooo many other things. Her blog taught me how to be a better cook and baker, be more intuitive in the kitchen, and laugh off the disasters with good humor and another try. Her website and cookbooks are always my first stop for recipes :) I can’t wait until her book signing in Denver!

    • I feel exactly the same! So many classics and good-humored instruction on smittenkitchen.com :)

    • Anon says...

      in debt of deb!:)

  30. Lizzie Welch says...

    Ahhhh! This is so awesome! I’m actually coming to Brooklyn tonight from the Detroit area for a few days for a vacation/also to go to the event on Friday. (I’m a huge fan of Deb and you guys!). How big is the bookstore? (I’m wondering how early I should arrive). Also, I’d love any of your latest NYC restaurant suggestions! I’m so excited.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yay! please come! the bookstore is pretty small, and there are already a bunch of RSVPs on facebook, so i’d come early and hang out, read, relax and get a good seat, if you’d like!

      and for brooklyn restaurant suggestions: lilia in williamsburg is fantastic italian, and recently we’ve been really into alta calidad: altacalidadbk.com

      here are stella’s six favorites, too: https://cupofjo.com/2017/02/best-brooklyn-restaurants/

      have the best trip!!!! xoxoxoxo

    • Ellie says...

      Go early!! I waited in line for 4 hours at the booksigning in Boston…Deb is popular (rightfully so!).

    • Sally says...

      Ellie – ME TOO! 2 1/2 hours – and then because we had kids with us, some nice people let us skip ahead. It was 8:30 and none of the kids had eaten… It was totally nuts. BUT – worth it! Loving the new book.

  31. Molly says...

    I love all of Smitten Kitchen’s recipes. I’ve only made it about halfway through her new book but it’s fantastic! I wish I lived in NY so I could come to your event!!!