Casseroles = Leftovers

Casseroles from leftovers means more leftovers of the casseroles. Casseroles and leftovers are a perfect match. They just go together like peanut butter and jelly. The best leftovers make the best casseroles too.

The definition of a casserole is really pretty vague in and of itself. It is defined as “any mixture of foods cooked in a metal, glass or pottery baking dish”. HUH? But in reality, a casserole is a layered dish made with either potatoes, rice or pasta and other ingredients that are all combined to make a one-pot dish, that are cut or spooned onto the plate, rather than being self contained, such as an enchilada. The casserole fillings are endless, and as I mentioned above, more so than not, they are made with leftovers. By combining the ingredients together vs. serving them side by side, you change the arrangements and the structure of the ingredients, which also changes the tastes of the ingredients.

Dinner last night was a casserole I made from my New Year’s Eve leftovers, so it was a Caribbean casserole. Ringing in the New Year. I served it with a small salad and some warmed bread to make for a simple yet tasty meal.

Other than my jalapeno-cilantro cream sauce, the whole dish was from leftovers of this and leftovers of that. The main ingredients were the rice, some of my black-eyed peas and chicken, all from our New Year’s feast. I also added some leftover vegetables, then made a jalapeno-cilantro cream sauce to bind everything together and topped it all with breadcrumbs.

Because there was no actual recipe, and I was literally just making it up as I went along and just trying to use my leftovers, I am only going to walk you through the steps of how I made my casserole. The basic steps are the same, regardless of the ingredients you actually do use.

I cut my chicken into thin strips and mixed it with the rice and black-eyed peas. I diced the rest of my vegetables and sauteed them in olive oil for 7 minutes, then combined them with the rice and chicken.

Jalapeno-Cilantro Cream Sauce

2-3 TBPS lime juice

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3-4 oz jalapeno jack cheese

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

2-3 TBSP butter

Preheat the oven to 350-375* F or about 1170-190* C

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray

Saute the jalapeno, then add the lime juice and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Then add the cream, cheese and cilantro and combine well. Let it cook down for a few minutes, then add the butter towards the end and mix in for a good creamy finish.

Once the sauce is made, combine it with the rice, chicken and vegetable mixture. (Had I have known I was going to be photographed, I would have dolled myself up a bit. 🙂 )

Pour it all into a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spread it out evenly.

Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and dollop with butter.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, or until the breadcrumb topping turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and let set for about 5-10 minutes then spoon it up.

I made a little side salad that I served alongside the casserole. I had some leftover mango dressing that I topped the salad with, to really make the whole meal completely from leftovers and completely Caribbean. 🙂 It was a colorful Caribbean style meal.

Stay safe and stay well everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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