The last few weeks I have been talking, a fair amount, about leftovers. I remember when I was a kid- leftovers were rarely a good thing. That says nothing about my mothers cooking, which, as I've stated before, was and is always completely delicious, but leftovers were always just sort of "meh". Normally they'd get to a stage of being rather over cooked- lifeless green beans, odd proteins...they were just shadows of their previous selves. However, leftovers don't have to be disappointing- leftovers can, just as easily, be new stars, with half the effort!
Once the chicken was done, and fully pulled- it was ready for my week of dishes!
I started with an Italian themed dish utilizing some of the great fresh veggies I purchased at Wilson Farms over the weekend. I started with five cloves (most on the smaller side) of garlic, and a quarter of a red onion that I chopped and added to a big saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. I heated this slowly, over a low heat so that the garlic and the onion would become sweet and really flavorful. Too high of a heat would have made them burn and bring out more of an acrid taste. While I waited for them to cook, I chopped up two tomatoes, and two of what were called Second Eggplants on the label at Wilson Farm. For the life of me, I have no idea what that means, other than that they were longer and thinner than a regular eggplant with lighter purple skin. The inside looked identical. As the case may be, I halved and then sliced two of these, and then added them and the tomatoes to the pan with a healthy addition of torn basil. I maintained the pan over low heat hoping to achieve really deep and rich flavors. The tomatoes broke down to a gorgeous sauce like consistency, and the eggplant softened and lost it's purple hue. The bitterness of the fruit raw went away and a creamier flavor shown through. At this point, I lightly blended the chunks with my immersion blender (silly idea as my gray t shirt is now freckled with red stains). Despite my t-shirt casualty- the sauce did take on a nice texture, if I were you- I would use a blender to complete this step :-). Then I added a bit of the pulled chicken. Maybe a breast worth. The rest, I put away for other uses. In a separate pot I boiled water for pasta, and then when the pasta was complete, I added it to the sauce pan so that it became covered in the tomato and eggplant mixture. I transferred this into a quick casserole dish, topped with shredded mozzarella cheese and put into a 350 degree oven for about a half hour- or until the cheese was completely melted.
As you may have realised- I have a LOT of pulled chicken left over now. Don't worry- I have a few more dishes to utilize it for, even faster uses for it that make hearty and delicious dinners and lunches. It's amazing how far a simple chicken can take you, especially as the summer winds down and hectic schedules take over again.
These are Transformer Recipes-and will hopefully not only transform ingredients from one meal to the next, but transform your weeknights as well, into much more enjoyable affairs!