Leftover cooking

Introduction | Rice pockets| Herby Potatoes| Pasta Salad


Leftover cooking can be fun. It is one of the areas where you can get creative.

Take rice for instance. Plain old boiled rice. It has a life after its first meal. Assuming there’s some left over – it can be converted into a quick rice pudding, tossed with veg. to make a rice salad, fried and seasoned for some great fried rice… or stuffed in pockets of store-bought pastry to make a delicious rice pie. Whenever I cook rice, I always make more than I need for one meal. This sets me up for future meals.

Or potatoes, yes – boiled potatoes can be great, the morning after. They make for great fried potatoes, herby potates or could form the ‘meat’ of a nice potato salad, tossed with some mint and peas. The choice is yours.

Or pasta – any sort could go in a salad, or in a soup or in a bake. I’ve been known to toss some pasta into some leftover Mustard soup, flake some fish in, cover it with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake it off.

I could go on and on but I won’t. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started which put a bit of a twist on plain old.

Rice pockets

I make mine with left over long grain rice which tends to have spent time in the refrigerator or deep freezer. Where-ever there’s space really.

To make 6 pockets, you’ll need

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
250ml ordinary water or meat/chicken/fish or vegetable stock
1 cup minced meat, chopped chicken, flaked fish, shellfish or 4 hard- boiled eggs, cooked
  in this case I also used 9 large shrimp, chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh mixed vegetables
2 teaspoons dry seasoning – curry, thyme or whatever tickles your fancy
3 cups of left-over rice, cold or at room temperature (not frozen)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
12 frozen puff pastry squares (about 5 X 5 inches or 12 X 12 cm)
1 Egg, lightly beaten


Don’t be in a hurry to use the puff pastry – if it is still frozen and you try to work with it, it will break so be a tad bit careful.

It is much easier to handle the puff pastry when it is cool. If it gets too warm, it will be difficult to handle (very sticky) and will result in edible but not very nice looking pockets so don’t allow the pastry stay out too long, thawing before you use it. About 5-6 minutes at room temperature should be sufficient for it to have ‘shed’ its frozenness.

You can omit the meat to make it vegetarian. You could use cubes of cheese and boiled eggs instead. If doing so, add them towards the end. I’ve even made them by spreading some soft cheese on the inside of the pastry before putting the rice in.

If using fish, gently mix in the flaked bits at the end of the cooking to warm through

You could also use 2 large pastry sheets to make a large pie. In that case, assemble it all direct onto the baking tray otherwise, it will be too tricky to handle. Then serve direct off the oven tray or slide not lift out of tray

The pockets are delicious served hot or cold

How to make Rice pockets

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Centigrade, about 410 degrees Fahrenheit

Oven temps

Lightly grease and flour an oven tray

Because I had shrimps lying about (well not lying about doing nothing…) I decided to put some in. I deshelled them, chopped them up and fried them for a couple of minutes in a pan with some butter. While they were frying, I salted them, tossed in some chopped chilies and let cook. Once ready, I set aside to add to the rice later.

Prawns Chopped up prawns Stir fried prawns Chiled prawns

Begin by making a roux. This gives the rice some moistness and ‘juice’.  In a large enough pan (to take all the ingredients), put the butter and flour and let cook slowly on low heat for 2-3 minutes. You want the flour to cook well so it doesn’t leave a pasty taste in the mouth.

Tablespoon butter Tablespoon plain flourRoux mix Cooking roux

Then slowly drizzle in the water or stock, stirring continuously till you’ve put it all in. Bring to the boil – about 2-3 minutes

250ml waterMake sauce

If using meat/chicken/shell fish, add now. If using fish or eggs, add at the end, just before you take the pan off the heat. Stir to mix well. (In my case, I used a bag of mince which was part of a bulk cook.)

Minced meat Minced meat in sauce

Add frozen vegetables and let cook for 3-4 minutes. If using fresh vegetables, put in and let cook as you desire.  Add your seasoning and let it cook for another 2 minutes Stir well.

Veggies, close up Veggies in sauceDried thyme Curry powder

Add the rice, stir well to mix and let rice heat through till warm. If using flaked fish, shrimps or eggs, add now. When mixture is hot, turn off heat and lay aside. This is when I added my chopped shrimps.

3 cups of rice Mix inMix in very well Prawns in rice

Stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley (or fresh herbs of your choice: chopped mint would go very well, especially if there was some nice lamb around somewhere – mince, chunks….) into the rice mix. Then spread rice out in an even layer to cool, in a flat dish or tray.

2 Tablespoons chopped parsley Cooling rice

While rice is cooling, bring out puff pastry to thaw and lay out your greased & lightly floured oven tray.

Packet of frozen puff pastry Thawing pastry

When the puff pastry is cool (please ensure it is not frozen), Start to assemble the pies.

You have two options:

1) Form the pockets by holding two pieces of pastry together and pinching three sides together to form a pocket. The side left un-pinched will be the open portion for stuffng the rice. With a small cooking spoon, fill the pockets with rice till almost full and then seal last side by pinching together

version 2_pastry version 2_pastrypocketReady to stuff and fill Then seal


2)  Lay a  piece of pastry on a board or directly on the oven tray. Place a couple of small spoonfuls of rice in the middle. Place the second piece of pastry over the top and seal the edges by pinching together

version 1 version 1_riceversion 1_covered version 1_rice_sealed

Repeat with all the pockets, placing each completed one on the tray and spacing them out.

Lightly score the top of the pockets with the back of a small knife to create little grooves which are essential for getting the pastry to bake light and flaky! I normally score in two directions – just for fun.

Scored with back of knife Side by side

Finally, gently ’wash’ each pocket with lightly beaten egg and a pastry brush.

Egg in bowl Lightly whiskedReady to baste Basted

Then you are ready to bake!

Bake away happily Baking pretty

Place tray in the middle of the oven and give it 18-20 minutes, or till its golden brown.

Finally there

When it is ready, bring out of the oven and leave it to cool down for a few minutes. Note that contents of the pocket will be hot!


I tend to slice each pocket in two to speed up the cooling process.

Rice pie

Delicious served with a light cheese sauce. Sit back and relax. Food is served.

With cheese sauce

Herby Potatoes

I make mine with left over potatoes.

You’ll need 12 medium-sized potatoes (3 per person, assuming this is a side dish)

You’ll need

1 tablespoon butter
12 medium-sized boiled potatoes, cold
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Freshly boiled potatoes can also be used but ensure they’ve cooled down properly to avoid them steaming rather than frying.

The potatoes are great for breakfast with sausages, bacon and/or eggs or for dinner with fish or for lunch on a salad… endless uses

How to make Herby potatoes

Take some left over boiled potatoes (say 3/4) medium sized potatoes per person.

Boiled potatoes

Cut them into uniform sizes.

Heat up a pan with a tablespoon of butter.

Then add potatoes, being careful not to overfill the pan so there’s enough room to toss the potatoes about. Salt now if need be (though usually you’ve salted the potatoes when boiling).

chopped up A bit of butter Fry in a pan toss about  

While the potatoes are cooking, chop up some parsley.

Bunch of parsley

Cook the potatoes till they are brown, by checking and tossing about.

Parsley in pan Herbed potatoes, ready

When the potatoes are ready, add the chopped parsley and you’re … done, finished.

Potatoes and cheese sauce

Pasta Salad

I make mine with left over potatoes.

You’ll need 12 medium-sized potatoes (3 per person, assuming this is a side dish)

You’ll need

1 cup cooked pasta
1 cup mixed vegetables or cooked vegetables, chopped
2 Tablespoons grated cheese
2 Tablespoons Pesto
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil


You can use freshly boiled pasta but make sure it is cooled down….

There’s no end to how light or how heavy you can make it…. it all depends on what you add. You could add greens and some chopped veggies or some steamed veg

How to make a Pasta salad

You’ll need some left over (or freshly boiled pasta if you must)


I added some ‘greek salad’ and some chopped chicken. Then I add some freshly grated cheese to the mix. 

Veg and Pasta Veg, Pasta and ChickenGrated cheese Soft cheese grated

 Make some quick pesto, loosen it with the olive oil and add it to the pasta

Pesto in the making Dollop of Pesto

That’s it. Ready to eat. Enjoy


Who says you can’t have good meals in minutes? 


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