Leftovers are a challenge in our house. If it’s pasta, you can pretty much guarantee that if there’s anything leftover (and usually there isn’t) then the kids will be all over it. It’s perfect for warming up and packing into Will’s lunchbox. But soup? It’s 50-50. Sometimes that’s great for lunch too but other times we don’t want to look at leftover soup. I’ve frozen it in the past, but we rarely go back to it. And leftover chicken, steak and other meats? It’s 50-50 on those too.
As a result, I try hard to not have leftovers from dinner. I make just enough. But sometimes leftovers can’t be avoided. For instance, earlier this week I was working on a recipe for a client that called for using leftover roasted chicken. I ended up buying a whole roasted chicken at the grocery store but only used a portion of it to finish off the recipe. A little of the chicken became Paige’s lunch one day, but there was still a good amount left. I hated seeing it there, knowing that it would go to waste if I didn’t do something.
Of course, I didn’t want to just eat it. With chicken especially, I am much happier when it becomes part of a whole new meal. Putting it on a salad was an option. But I had nachos on the brain and I’ve been on a long quest to make chicken work on nachos. Often, I feel like when you pair chicken with traditional nacho toppings it ends up seeming out of place — like your Thanksgiving dinner got into an argument with fiesta night. The flavors is just so different.
But I had an epiphany recently. If the chicken’s flavor was more Tex-Mex then it would blend in better. It’s a matter of narrowing the gap between the flavors. So I tried it (what good is a theory if you don’t?). It worked. All it takes is shredding the chicken and mixing it with a little salsa to make it a perfect nacho topping. Sweet.
Making these nachos, which make a perfect easy dinner, is simple as can be. Tortilla chips are topped with the chicken mixture, a load of black beans and red peppers. Then it’s all baked with a blanket of cheddar. Serve it with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or whatever you love with your nachos.
Did I mention that it’s ready in a mere 15 minutes, start to finish? Go ahead. Try them tonight. You totally have time.
What do you do with your leftovers?
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, (such as from a roasted chicken)
- 1/2 cup salsa, (I use mild for the kids but prefer hot myself)
- tortilla chips, (roughly 4 cups)
- 1 15.5- oz can black beans, , drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- salsa, , sour cream, guacamole, etc as desired
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, stir together the chicken and salsa.
- Arrange the tortilla chips in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with the chicken mixture and the black beans. Sprinkle with red peppers. Spread the cheddar all around.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is all melted. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before serving.
More Recipes for Leftover Chicken:
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.