Found Food: What Treasures Lie Waiting to Be Discovered in Your Fridge? by Tamia Nelson

When dinner hour is fast approaching and you’re very hungry, but you just don’t feel like cooking, what do you do? Some folks head for BelchaBurger, but I raid my refrigerator, searching for any leftovers that can be recycled into meals with a minimum of time and trouble. On just a such a foraging foray recently, I turned up a small container of brown rice and another of leftover roast chicken, legacies of past meals. But even when I combined the two, they didn’t look like they’d add up to dinner for two—until I bulked them up a bit, that is. This is what I used:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two green onions, sliced thin
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • Two eggs
  • Leftover steamed brown basmati rice
  • Leftover roast chicken pieces
  • Fresh lime
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and (freshly ground) pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped fine

The resulting meal came together quickly—less than 30 minutes from prep to plate—and I liked it so much that I now budget for leftovers whenever I make chicken and rice for dinner.

What about it? Think you’d like to give it a try? Here’s how:

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Drizzle a film of olive oil in a skillet and then add the green onions and garlic. Place the skillet on a medium-high burner. By the time the oil is hot enough to cook eggs, the garlic and onions will be soft and fragrant. Now pour the whisked eggs into the pan and scramble them. (Keep the heat in check; eggs that get too hot quickly become tough.) When the eggs are nearly done, stir in the rice and chicken, adding a little more olive oil if needed (stir again). Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet, letting the mélange steam long enough for the rice and chicken to heat through. Now turn off the burner. Shake a tablespoon or two of grated Parmesan cheese into the pan, squeeze some lime juice over the rice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and spoon onto plates. Serve with freshly chopped parsley if you have it. And how does it taste? Wonderful!

The bottom line: Don’t let leftovers rot on the fridge. Recycle them into delicious, healthy dishes. You’ll save money, time, and trouble. And you’ll have some great meals, into the bargain.

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This entry was posted in Let's Eat: Provisioning, Food, and Cooking on by .


For half a century, Tamia Nelson has been ranging far and wide by bike, boat, and on foot. A geologist by training, an artist since she could hold a pencil, a photographer since her uncle gave her a twin-lens reflex camera when she was 10, she's made her living as a writer and novelist for two decades. Avocationally her interests span natural history, social history, cooking, art, and self-powered outdoor pursuits, and she has broad experience in mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, snowshoeing and skiing.