Clean Out Your Fridge, Find Dinner

Leftover beans form the base of a rich pasta, and stray herbs become a garlicky green sauce to slather on just about anything.

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By Emily Weinstein

The writer Tamar Adler has a new cookbook devoted to leftovers — “The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers A-Z” — packed with recipes like refried bean hummus, a pad Thai omelet, hot dog banh mi, chicken ragù. I love the elegant honesty of Tamar’s writing, the sureness of her direction and the range of her ideas. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel more capable just by opening it.

Her book inspired me to feature New York Times Cooking recipes this week that easily use up leftovers, if you’ve got them (or, in the case of fried rice, do so by design). We have so many more recipes for you, but you’ll need a subscription to access them. Subscribe today for a special rate on the full Times experience, including Cooking, during our All Access sale — which is ending soon! And you can email me anytime at [email protected].

1. Chicken Fried Rice

Ali Slagle uses ground chicken in this recipe because it absorbs flavor better and stays moister than day-old roast chicken. But this is also a great vehicle for that leftover chicken, and leftover vegetables, too. Cold cooked rice is a must; always make more than you need and keep it in the fridge or freezer.

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2. Roasted White Bean and Tomato Pasta

Such a smart new recipe from Alexa Weibel: You roast beans and tomatoes in the oven while you boil water for pasta. Toss all the elements together for a luscious and pleasingly starchy dish. Lex calls for canned beans; I’ll use the leftover cooked beans that always seem to be in my fridge.

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3. Sheet-Pan Bibimbap

This beloved recipe from Eric Kim is a superb way to use up those stray vegetables in the crisper that are starting to fade. Leftover rice is helpful here, too!

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4. All-Purpose Green Sauce

One of the single most useful recipes out there: a sauce from Melissa Clark that incorporates whatever herbs you have, which you can use on fish, chicken, steak, grains, roasted vegetables and roughly a hundred other things. Leave out the yogurt to make it vegan.

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5. Roasted Vegetable Burritos

Burritos and quesadillas can envelop a whole host of scraps: grilled meat, roasted vegetables and (of course) beans and rice. Here Kay Chun roasts mushrooms, poblano chiles and sweet potato for her filling, but you can sub in other vegetables to roast, or leftover cooked vegetables — anything that vibes with melted Monterey Jack.

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