Making the Most of Leftovers

Leftovers may sound like unwanted old food but moving leftovers from one meal to the next – slowly dwindling the stockpile – is a challenge and an art form in my kitchen. In fact, I don’t think I can imagine a day where I do not use some sort of leftover in a salad, smashed on toast, or beneath a fried egg. Leftovers keep me from wasting food and give me a mental and physical ‘break’ from cooking a whole new meal.

Three tricks I’ve found to help the most in utilizing leftovers is to always make extra, portion out my leftovers into different containers (such as vegetables, grains, beans, or sauces), and have a well stocked pantry full of tools for repurposing old meals into new ones.


Roasted Butternut Squash | Cooking Component

Prepping vegetables in large batches does take a little more time, but it’s worth it when it answers the ‘what’s for lunch’ question. Roasting up a few pounds seasonal veg gets me through a week of meals. Tandoori cauliflower that went on the side of last nights curry can find a place in today’s tandoori wrap, and maybe even tomorrow’s breakfast hash. At the end of the week, mismatched vegetable leftovers can get tossed in a salad, grain bowl, or a wrap.

Most whole grains and legumes take some time to prepare. Doubling or even tripling what a recipe calls for saves time in the future – and excess grains and legumes do well for a week at a time in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer. I may cook up an extra cup of plain quinoa and use it for breakfast porridge or even fritters later on down the week.

Chili Roasted Broccoli
Roasted Radishes
Roasted Butternut Squash
Spiced Zucchini



Kale Bulgur Fritters with Garlic Yogurt | Naturally Ella

While it wont work for all situations, portioning out leftovers from a meal into individual components can help make future meals more manageable and appetizing. Keeping the sauce separate is critical – if your making fritters only sauce what you plan to eat immediately. The same goes for most salads – dress only what you plan to eat right then. Grain and noodle based salads are generally fine, and even tastier, when dressed multiple times. Avoid mixing all your leftovers together and you’ll end up with components instead of a soggy pish-posh of food.

Beet Salad with Broiled Feta and Sesame Sunflower Seeds
Kale Bulgur Fritters with Garlic Yogurt
Brown Rice Carrot Fritters with Chipotle Sunflower Sauce
Roasted Carrot Multigrain Pilaf with Pepita Pesto
Cauliflower Cakes with Brown Rice and Cheddar



Seasame Oil | Fats | Stock a Pantry

Any leftover can be brought back to life with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, some good quality olive or nut oil and a nice ceramic plate to put it all on. Check out my pantry staples- for ideas on how to breathe life into your leftovers.

Dips and Spreads

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Gochujang Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

Gochujang Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

We tried a new-to-us restaurant recently in Portland and it was so tasty that I knew right away I had to try to recreate their Gochujang Brussels sprouts at home!

Lucky for you, I’ve taken all the guess work out of this delicious side dish or appetizer. Plus, just 7 ingredients and 30 minutes required!

If you’re into Brussels sprouts, you’ll love this dish because they’re stir-fried to golden brown (but still tender) perfection and coated in the most savory, bangin’ sauce on the block: Korean Gochujang Chili Sauce!

Gochujang Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts from Minimalist Baker →

Chimichurri Chickpea Zucchini Noodles

overhead shot of zucchini noodles tossed with a chimichurri chickpea mix

I’m squeezing in a few more summer recipes before October hits. I feel the change to fall in the air but at least in California, summer produce is still quite prominent at the markets and stores. This recipe was voted on in my instagram stories and I’m so glad people wanted to see it.

This chimichurri chickpea mix is ridiculously simple and this entire meal comes together fast. I’m not a pasta-avoider (give me all the carbs!) but sometimes it’s nice to have a light idea in my back-pocket, especially when I’m still swimming in zucchini.

For the noodles, you can really use any size you want. I have a simple metal spiralizer and use the medium-sized blade. Also, don’t salt the noodles. I know some people say this is a must but all that does is draw moisture out and make for some soggy noodles. Fresh is best!

Read more and see the recipe.

The post Chimichurri Chickpea Zucchini Noodles appeared first on Naturally Ella.

1-Bowl Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes

1-Bowl Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes

Friends, behold perhaps my favorite pancakes of all time.

I mean, that’s a big statement, but it’s true. And can I also say that it was a long road to get here? What started as “blender oat pancakes” gone wrong morphed into this supreme stack of golden goodness – the victory was well earned. Let’s make pancakes!

These 1-bowl, 25-minute pancakes require 9 simple ingredients you likely have on hand right now.

1-Bowl Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes from Minimalist Baker →

Pinto Bean Tostadas with Nopales and Eggs

Pinto Bean Tostadas with Nopales and Eggs

Today’s post is a little different. Sure, there’s a recipe but this recipe is to help promote an organization that is near and dear to my heart: the Food Literacy Center. September is Food Literacy Month in the state of California.

What does that meant, exactly? Well, as the Food Literacy center describes it: ‘understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our economy.’

Here in Sacramento, the Food Literacy Center is in the schools, inspiring kids to eat vegetables through cooking and exploring. I’ve been in the classes, watching the kids eat beets and radishes with excitement. These kids then take the excitement home and often help push their families towards more.

FLC was the first organization I got involved with in Sacramento and it’s been amazing to watch the growth.

Here’s where you come in. For Food Literacy month, we’re trying to raise money through a friendly ‘veggie of the year’ competition with local chefs. I’m on team nopales, hence this recipe! It probably goes without saying that food education is one of my top passions and I think one of the most important things we can do.

If you believe in the power of food education, please consider donating.
This is such an important mission and hopefully one that will continue to grow.

Read more and see the recipe.

The post Pinto Bean Tostadas with Nopales and Eggs appeared first on Naturally Ella.

No-Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Donut Holes

No-Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Donut Holes

Ready for something sweet (but secretly healthy)? I have just the thing.

No-bake vegan donut holes! Yes, it’s a thing. Let’s do this!

This 30-minute, 10-ingredient recipe starts with dates and nuts (walnuts or cashews or both), which creates a sweet, slightly nutty base.

Next come coconut and almond flour for a fluffy, cake-like feel. This is what makes them more the texture of cake or donuts than an energy bite.

No-Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Donut Holes from Minimalist Baker →

Pear Custard Tart with Cinnamon

Overhead shot of an 11" tart filled with pears, custard filling, and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Post sponsored by California Pear. See below for more details.

It’s rare that I post dessert recipes but don’t be fooled, I love my desserts. This custard tart has been around for years and has made it’s way through all the seasons. However, this pear version is my favorite. Using slices of bosc pears makes for a beautiful presentation and the custard filling is the perfect partner.

Since September is farm to fork month in Sacramento, I’m partnering with California pear to chat a little about organic Cal pears. If you were to chat with the local pear farmers, you would learn that most of the farms have been in their families for over 100 years. These farming families are multigenerational and the caring for the land is a top priority. Pear farmers are in the process of transitioning more of their land over to USDA certified organic pear orchards as a way to prepare for future generations.

Best of all, organic California pears can be found at Raley’s new Market 5-ONE-5 in downtown Sacramento. This market is a neighborhood store focused on providing local, natural food (including organic California pears!) Just walking through the store is inspiring- I always leave with so many new recipe ideas!

A look at California Pears

Read more and see the recipe.

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Mini Crispy Eggplant Pizzas

Mini Crispy Eggplant Pizzas

Who likes eggplant? (Unite!)

Who likes pizza? (OK, seriously, who isn’t raising their hand?)

Who’s stoked about combining the two? Me!

Let’s do this!

This 10-ingredient dinner or side is adapted and inspired by my Crispy Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan, only I took it a step further by adding pizza sauce and vegan cheese!

The base starts with thinlysliced eggplant (the thinner the better), which is then dipped in gluten-free four, almond milk, and finally a crispy breading comprised of cornmeal, vegan parmesan cheese, and gluten-free bread crumbs.

Mini Crispy Eggplant Pizzas from Minimalist Baker →

15 Late-Summer Vegetarian Recipes

I always find this time of year to be a bit strange. Sure, I’m ready for cooler fall weather but given it’s still summer, I’m still into all the tomatoes and zucchini. It’s like we can’t be in transition, it has to be summer or it has to be fall. People throw tomatoes and grilling out the window for Pumpkin and crockpots.

It’s okay to enjoy the transition. To still hold onto summer and enjoy the cooler weather. And so, I thought I’d share a few of my recipes that I think make for the perfect transition meals. These are the recipes that are still heavy on the summer product but tend to be a bit more rich and comforting. It’s the best of both seasons, all while enjoying the summer bounty into lat summer.


Egg Pesto Potato Skillet |

One of the reasons I love this time of year most is that I feel like my weekends are slowing a bit and I’m more apt to make a solid breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, and Dutch babies make a return while my egg dishes take on a bit more preparation. Best of all, most of these recipes can also be adapted to use fall produce.

Multigrain Dutch Baby with Peaches (I’d use pears this time of year)
Zucchini Egg Skillet
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes (Use whichever berries you can still find)
Pesto Potato Skillet
Pesto Summer Squash Toast with Egg


Overhead Shot of Chickpea Tomato Bread Salad with Arugula Pesto

I think fall salads are the best. As the weather cools a bit, greens make a return. And so, you have fresh greens and all the summer produce. The combinations are endless (and delicious). Just a word of advice: keep cooked chickpeas on hand. They can make any salad an instant full lunch (or dinner!)

Chickpea Tomato Bread Salad
Green Summer Salad
Chickpea Dumplings with Corn Soup
Spiced Chickpea Cucumber Salad
Roasted Sweet Corn Salad


Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

This is my favorite category for late-summer meals. I always feel a bit strange cranking up my oven on a hot day but with the cooler nights, I’m all about the hearty, rich dinners. Pasta and grain-based meals top the list.

Summer Paella
Farro Zucchini Bake
Green Bean Curry
Summer Vegetable Pasta
Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Favorites List (09.08.18)

Some links, recipes, and reading for the weekend. Enjoy!

– ‘A small-town couple left behind a stolen painting worth over $100 million — and a big mystery‘ (The Washington Post)

This interview (Apiece Apart)

– How to Write a Condolence Note (Cup of Jo)

– Reading this.

This video: Llama Cake

How to Design Your Perfect Kitchen (Curbed)

Rei Kawakubo Revealed (Sort Of) (NY Times)

California’s surf wars: wave ‘warlords’ go to extreme lengths to defend their turf (The Guardian)

KT Achaya’s pioneering scholarship on Indian food (Caravan)

This for dinner.

– The Best 10 Rules to Live by When You Are Young and Ready to Travel. (Steve Sando – also, read his New Yorker profile if you missed it!) 

Chengdu Cool: The Rise of Sichuan’s Homegrown Hip Hop (Guernica)

– Aretha Franklin’s American Soul (New Yorker)

Favorites List (09.08.18)

Continue reading Favorites List (09.08.18) on 101 Cookbooks