Getting creative with leftovers sometimes can feel a bit droll and daunting. And having them for lunch the next day is often a repeat that comes way too fast. Especially if you're single and cooking for one, having lasagne for the fifth meal in a row becomes just not do-able. Recently I've been working a regular job- yes, the quintessential 9-5 American grind. Going to the local gourmet market for a $10 salad bar or a quart of soup, or the local take-out restaurant easily turns into a $15 daily adventure. Those who know me and have read my past (okay, maybe way past...) blog entries, you'll know that I've never balked at dropping $20 for lunch, or even $30; and for dinner, well, read my prior blog entries...
As I've gotten older, I've suddenly gotten a bit more conservative with my money, and unfortunately seem to have less of it rolling in (not something I had imagined happening by the way). Add retirement savings looming over my head, and that $10-15 for lunch, not to mention $3-5 morning coffee just isn't acceptable. Spending $100 per week just to get me back home safely every night - throw in a kombucha and a bottled water and, well, you see where this is heading. It seems a lot of what one would deem "disposable income" or better yet, put into that IRA, has become locked up in just getting me through my work week. Perhaps I'm late to the game, having worked in restaurants most of my life and getting free and discounted and made by mistake food. But now that I'm having to feed myself out of a very tightly squeezed wallet 3 meals a day, I'm not willing to let the cash flow out that easily. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes by now, "welcome to corporate America," - I suppose I'm a late bloomer.
Okay, back to my story about leftovers (and you thought I wouldn't be long-winded???)
We've all done the big beginning of the week shop, and for most of us, that shop would include one of those pre-roasted, ready to eat chickens. It is probably the best deal one can get. Even at Whole Foods one can buy a whole, organic free range chicken, fully roasted, for $14.99. Not organic, and it is $9.99. Get it at Costco, and it is $5.99. Seriously - try buying an organic, free range raw chicken and you are looking at $25 minimum. Not to mention the 1.5 hours of roasting time and you are ready for bed before it's done. Okay, I know, roasting a chicken at home your way: beer can style, or german ceramic roasting pan style, or some special barbeque technique; nothing surpasses that. But, having an already cooked $15 chicken piping hot off the spit from Whole Foods is nothing to sneeze at. (what? sneeze at???)
God, get to the recipe already you ask! Okay, so yes, I'll scarf that leg right away while unloading groceries (or maybe even in the car!), but then I stick it in the fridge when I get home and feel like eating something else that night.
By the time I'm sick of roasted chicken for dinner, over half of it is left. Here's one way to breathe some life into the second half of that poor neglected little bird. Feel free to add other ingredients to make it more crunchy
Curry Chicken Salad (serves 2-4 depending on who's eating)
1/2 leftover chicken, taken off bone and cut into bite-sized cubes (keep that carcass for stock!)
1 green onion, chopped from white to top
2 small apples chopped into bite sized pieces - I prefer Fuji's or Braeburns but anything will work
2-3 T chopped cilantro
1/4 cup Mayonnaise - more or less depending on how dry you want it (Best Foods is my preference)
1/2 t salt to taste
2-4 T curry powder to taste (depending on the brand)
optional additions: chopped seedless grapes, raisins, red onion (instead of green), finely chopped cabbage, fried wonton noodles (add right before eating), celery etc.
Combine chicken, green onion, cilantro and apples (I keep the skin on everything because I like to do things fast and I don't mind chicken or apple skin).
Add mayonnaise, salt and curry powder. Depending on what you use, more or less curry powder will be needed. The S & B brand I use is mild and I may add up to 4 Tablespoons at times.
Combine well, taste and adjust curry and salt if needed. Bring to work in a separate container and sandwich it between romaine leaves and your favorite bread. Or, leave the bread off for a delicious low carb option.