7 Easy Recipes That Use Up Leftover Rice and Grains
Do you always find yourself with leftover rice? Quinoa? That’s a good problem to have. Leftover grains can easily be enlisted in follow-up lunches and dinner, making your next day’s prep that much easier. Because most grains such as rice, quinoa, farro, and bulgur keep well, you can easily store them in the refrigerator before you employ them in dishes such as fried rice, fritters, curries, and even puddings. You get more meals out of one and you save yourself time, energy, and groceries. Check out these seven recipes that make use of leftover grains and see how you can make over the fibrous leftovers.
1. Breakfast Quinoa
Starting out with a morning meal, we come to this recipe for breakfast quinoa from Cookie & Kate. If you have leftover quinoa from dinner the night before, be resourceful and use it in your breakfast the next day. You’ll save yourself the time of cooking more quinoa or oats, and the ways you can customize the breakfast quinoa are endless. The recipe developer behind this breakfast formula suggests adding in toppings such as fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, and honey, but what you choose is completely up to you.
- ½ cup or more cooked quinoa, warmed
- ½ to 1 cup milk of choice
- ⅓ cup or more fruit
- Optional add-ons: toasted nuts, apple sauce, coconut flakes, balsamic vinegar, chopped dark chocolate, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg
- Optional sweeteners: honey, real maple syrup, agave nectar, raw sugar, brown sugar
Directions: In a bowl, combine warmed quinoa with milk. Top with fruit, add-ons, and sweetener of choice.
2. Breakfast Rice Pudding
Here’s another way to use up the last of your dinner from the night before. Make Dessert for Two’s breakfast rice pudding that calls for leftover rice, milk, butter, bananas, and cinnamon. It’s a sweet morning meal you won’t mind waking up for, and thanks to the already cooked rice, it takes only 15 minutes to prepare. This is one breakfast you’ll want time and time again, which is just another reason to keep hoarding your leftovers.
- 1½ cups cooked brown rice (cold)
- 1 cup milk (any kind)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 banana (half mashed, half sliced)
- Garnishes: dried fruits, nuts, extra honey
Directions: In a small saucepan, combine the brown rice, milk, butter, and cinnamon. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the mashed banana half and the honey. Cook about 1 minute to thicken. Divide between two bowls, and top with your choice of garnishes and the remaining banana slices.
3. Quinoa Fried “Rice”
For a follow-up lunch or dinner, whip up this quinoa fried “rice” from Cooking for Keeps. It’s a seemingly indulgent way to use up your leftovers, but this meal still won’t set you back in the calorie and fat department, as it’s a healthy twist on our favorite Asian takeout. You won’t be frying any rice, but rather, you’ll cook your leftover quinoa in a skillet and then add in your homemade sauce. This dish is fun, fibrous, and flavorful, and it’ll have you patting yourself on the back for not throwing out any leftovers.
- 1 cup quinoa (or 2½ to 3 cups leftover cooked quinoa)
- 1 ½ cups water or low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ small onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 scallions, chopped and divided
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 eggs, lightly scrambled
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 ½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce
- 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- ¾ teaspoon sesame oil
Directions: Rinse quinoa a few times in cold water.
Bring quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for five minutes or so. Fluff with a fork. Cool and store in the fridge, preferably overnight.
Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Throw in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through, add remaining scallion and serve.
4. Bulgur Wheat Salad
Here’s a classy vegetarian salad from Running to the Kitchen that makes use of your grain leftovers and employs frozen veggies, too. Those shortcuts mean this bulgur wheat salad couldn’t be easier. Enjoy it as a light lunch or dinner and you’ll feel filled up but not weighed down. Thanks to the fiber and protein in this salad, the dish won’t leave you feeling unsatisfied, but rather, comfortably satiated. You’ll even make a homemade Orange Dijon dressing to go with the grains.
- 2 cups cooked bulgur wheat
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
- ½ small red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ orange, juiced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt & pepper, to taste
Directions: Combine cooked bulgar wheat, edamame, corn and onion in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a smaller bowl, combine remaining ingredients for the dressing and whisk together. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Best if refrigerated and left to sit for at least an hour but can be served immediately.
5. Quinoa Patties
Another savory way to enjoy your leftover quinoa is in patty form. Bon Appétit features a Heidi Swanson recipe for quinoa patties that uses up leftover quinoa and pairs it with eggs, fresh chives, cheese, and breadcrumbs. The small dish can be enjoyed warm or cold and enjoyed on its own, on a bun, or on a salad. It’s the perfect protein-packed meat-free addition to any dish. This recipe for yields 12 patties and is completely customizable.
- 2 ½ cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- Water, if needed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Directions: Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch thick patties.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 6 patties. Cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.
6. Individual Farro Egg Bake
Back to the breakfast game, we come to these individual egg bakes from The Chic Life that enlist a different kind of grain: farro. Next time you’re stuck with farro leftovers, make a morning meal out of them. These individual farro egg bakes can easily be mastered in ramekins or individual casseroles, and because they only serve one, you won’t need to worry about more leftovers. To make your egg bakes, simply combine your eggs, spinach, milk, and farro, and then cook for 16 to 19 minutes. This is one breakfast you can enjoy on a busy weekday or slower Saturday morning.
- non-stick spray
- 1 cage free or farm fresh egg
- 1 tablespoon frozen, chopped spinach
- 1 teaspoon milk
- pinch of salt
- a bit of fresh-ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons leftover cooked farro
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray individual casserole dish(es) with non-stick spray. Combine egg, spinach, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together. Add farro and stir to combine. Evenly distribute egg mixture to individual casserole dish(es). Bake until edges are golden brown and egg is set in the middle, about 16 to 19 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for a couple minutes till it’s safe to eat.
7. Barley-Stuffed Peppers
Lastly is a dish that you can enjoy as a lunch, dinner, or snack. Meaty stuffed peppers are popular among consumers, but too many home chefs forget that the vehicles for meat and cheese can be made vegetarian, too. Stuff your peppers with leftover barley and make your already easy meal economical and healthy as well. This recipe for barley-stuffed peppers featured on Epicurious will fill you up the nutritious way with fiber, protein, and vitamins. Enlisting two peppers, two cups of barley, two cups of mushrooms, and almost two cups of cheese, you can keep these peppers all to yourself or share them with a guest.
- ¾ cup uncooked barley, or 2 cups cooked barley or other grain
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup small-diced fresh mozzarella
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 yellow bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 cup bread crumbs
Directions: Slice the mushrooms, grate the parmesan, dice the mozzarella, chop the parsley, halve, and seed the bell peppers. Cook the barley according to the package instructions. Transfer the barley to a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure the oven rack is positioned in the center.
In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and rippling, add half the mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper.
After 3 to 4 minutes, use tongs to flip one mushroom. When they’re ready, flip all the mushrooms and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms to the bowl with the barley and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Add the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and the parsley to the bowl and stir to combine.
Line the pepper halves cut side up on a baking sheet and season each with a pinch of kosher salt. Use a large spoon to divide the barley filling evenly among the pepper halves. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the filling is hot in the center and the peppers are tender, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the peppers with the bread crumbs and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.