Leftovers 101

If you often have leftover rice, noodles, or polenta like I do, and you would rather forego the bland-nuked-next-day meal, I am creating a new category:  LEFTOVERS!  Welcome to turning yesterday’s meal into today’s 2.0 dinner.

Today’s Leftover post:  Polenta.  Remember those enormous grilled polenta squares?  I made a cake pan of polenta and used two huge squares for the grilled meal, and had two more leftover.  I cut those squares into four smaller squares, totaling 8, pan-fried them, and decided to go with a Moroccan topper.  I’ll be honest, I love the fragrant, warm and deep Moroccan flavors, but it isn’t something I can simply throw together, so I definitely needed some help.  The Moroccan Rice Pilaf recipe is from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home Cookbook, and the Spiced Cauliflower is from the Better Homes & Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good Magazine (Do you get sucked into those check-out counter grocery store magazines as quickly as I do?)

Assembly line prep makes for quick and easy fried polenta squares!  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, cloud-soft and dreamy-creamy on the inside.

pan fried polenta 1 pan fried polenta 2

All you need is a little flavor added to your leftover rice, and you have a whole new meal.

pan fried polenta moroccan rice ingredients

Pile high, and enjoy!

pan fried polenta and moroccan rice 2 pan fried polenta and moroccan rice 1

{I am going to post three separate recipes for each of the different leftover components}


  • Servings: 4, plan on 2 squares per person
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Leftover polenta that has been formed and cooled in a square cake pan (just a head’s up, you need to cut the polenta into small squares)
  • 1 cup flour, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, 1 tsp each salt and pepper mixed in


  1. Cut the polenta into 8 small squares and place on a paper towel to soak up any extra liquid.  Using another paper towel, dab the tops of your squares to make sure they are extra dry.
  2. While the polenta squares are resting on the paper towel, prepare three separate shallow bowls, one with the seasoned flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the seasoned Panko bread crumbs.  (You can use the plain Italian bread crumbs instead of panko, if you’d like, I just love pan-frying with panko because I personally feel like it yields a crispier texture.)
  3. One square at a time, coat all sides with the flour, then move to the egg and coat completely with the egg, then move to the bread crumbs and coat all sides.  After coating, let rest on a cooling rack until all your squares are coated and ready to fry.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Pan-fry four squares at a time, flipping when they are golden brown.  Brown the other side.  You can serve with the recommended Moroccan rice and spiced cauliflower, or a simple side of marinara sauce.



  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe courtesy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home


  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover brown, white, or basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted


  1. In a large pot or skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper with salt and pepper to taste until they are just tender.  Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice or nutmeg, and dates.  Let the spices heat until you can smell them, about 30-60 seconds.  Add the rice, parsley, and water.  Heat through and stir in the toasted almonds.


  • Servings: 4 one cup servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe courtesy Better Homes and Gardens Eat Well, Feel Good 


  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets, trimmed
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. In a small bowl combine mustard, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper; set aside.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add cauliflower and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add sweet pepper and green onions, cook for another minute or two.  Reduce heat to medium and add the mustard spice mixture.  Cook and stir until you can smell the spices, about 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the water and let everything come together.


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