If you are like my wife and me, takeout is a weekend treat. We (I) cook all week and look forward to a break on Friday night when someone else prepares our food. We factor it into our food budget so our easy meal doesn’t come with a side of guilt. At some point, I realized we could turn leftovers from Friday’s takeout into another easy meal during the weekend. It was a momentous discovery.
So, here are a few tips about how to turn your weekend restaurant takeout into something entirely different:
I have to give my sister-in-law credit for this one. She invited my wife and me over for ‘pizza’ one night and we arrived to see Yafo laffah bread on sheet pans surrounded by various toppings—genius. We each had our own laffah and dressed it accordingly with whatever we wanted—I chose mushrooms, pepperoni, mozzarella, red onion, and pineapple on top of a light brushing of extra virgin olive oil, ricotta, and crushed tomatoes. Not only is this a super-quick meal, but it is cheap (laffah is $1 at Yafo) and a great way to clean out the fridge of random meat and vegetables that pile up during the week. Just make sure to either use the broiler or a super hot oven to ensure the cheese melts quickly without drying out the laffah.
Viva Chicken Salad
I base entire meals around Viva Chicken’s Aji Amarillo sauce. It is frickin’ delicious. But my favorite application is to use it as a flavor base for chicken salad. When you pick up rotisserie chicken and Brussels sprouts on Friday night, make sure you grab a few extra yellow sauces—three should do it. To be honest—I am always half-expecting for one of the employees to tap me on the shoulder while I prepare five sauces to go along with my two takeout meals—but, so far, their gracious staff has allowed my obsession.
For the chicken salad: combine three ramekins of yellow sauce with ⅓ cup of mayonnaise (it doesn’t HAVE to be Duke’s—but it should be), ½ cup diced celery, 2 cups of diced grilled chicken, a tablespoon of lime juice, and ½ teaspoon of salt. For best results, make at least two hours to 24 hours in advance before enjoying on a sandwich, scooped onto salad greens, or simply spooned onto saltine crackers during Sunday’s Panthers game.
Free(ish) Paco’s Tacos Chilequiles
Continuing my lack of shame when it comes to takeout freebies—I always take my bowl’s worth of tortilla chips and a couple salsa containers with me when I leave a Mexican restaurant. Many area restaurants provide these items for free—making it a perfect ingredient for your Saturday morning breakfast on the cheap. Be sure to leave your bag of chips open on the counter on Friday night to dry them out a bit.
Make the chilequiles: On Saturday morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an iron skillet or heavy-bottom pan, heat oil on medium, add a can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chilies and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Remove the pan from the stove and add ½ cup of salsa. Break up 4 cups (about 50 chips) tortilla chips in your hand as you add them to the sauce. Beat 4 eggs in a bowl and add them to the skillet, stirring to prevent them from scrambling. Cover with a handful of shredded cheese and place it in the oven for 12-15 minutes. The chilequiles is done when the eggs are set.
I enjoy mine with a side of black beans, a handful of more cheese, and sour cream. And if you are like me and save every scrap of uneaten food when you dine, throw in leftover carne asada or shredded chicken from last night’s dinner before you bake—and maybe skip lunch unless you want to be completely worthless that day.