Monday, November 24, 2014

Reinventing Leftovers: Chicken Bruschetta

I will be the first person to admit that I do not like leftovers; life is way too short to eat food that tastes half as good as it originally did.  That being said, I am a fan of converting leftovers into dishes that taste like they were just prepared by adding a few fresh ingredients to brighten up the older flavors.  It's so quick and kind of fun seeing what I can concoct with random ingredients I have on hand...practice for Chopped once I'm on Food Network?!  Tonight, I was put in the perfect scenario to re-use leftovers: it was 6:30 pm, my stomach was growling, I was really thinking hard about driving up to Chipotle, and, on top of it, felt super lazy and drained from a busy day at work.  Did I get the burrito bowl I was craving and completely ruin my pre-thanksgiving diet?  No way!  Instead took a leftover piece of grilled chicken from last night, some day-old french bread (because who ever really finishes the whole baguette?), some leftover baby spinach, and a few standard pantry items to make grilled chicken bruschetta!  It tasted like a restaurant meal and only took 15 minutes from start to finish!

Disclaimer: this recipe is designed for one, but I feel like we all have those nights when we're by ourselves and have no desire to spend an hour cooking.  Just double everything and you have a meal for 2!

The ingredients: a leftover piece of chicken, day old crusty bread, 1/4 cup each green peppers, carrots and onions, 1 garlic clove 1 cup of diced tomatoes, a few spices and some cheese.  I feel like these items are almost always in my pantry, which makes it even easier to make this recipe on the fly!

I began by preheating the oven to 400° F and heating up a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Once it was warm, I added the onions, carrots and green peppers and let them cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until they softened a bit.  The next step is adding the garlic to the veggie mixture and stirring it around for about 30 seconds until it starts to make your kitchen smell amazing; any longer, and it will burn and leave a bitter flavor in the dish.  I stirred in a cup of diced tomatoes and sprinkled everything with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, sugar and a dash of grated parmesan cheese.  Let it simmer for 5 more minutes over medium low heat to let all the flavors melt together.  We're essentially making a homemade pasta sauce in 10 minutes with all of the flavor and none of the time or effort!  It's amazing!

While the sauce was cooking, I drizzled olive oil on a piece of crusty bread and sprinkled it with salt, garlic powder, basil and oregano...GARLIC BREAD.  I toasted it in the oven for 3-4 minutes, or until it was getting crisp but not entirely done.  I give the bread a head start before I add the tomatoes and chicken in order to crisp it up so it can support the added moisture without getting soggy.  Garlic bread is one of my favorite things in the world!

By the time the bread was ready to come out of the oven, the tomato sauce was done and the chicken was sliced.  I topped the bread with a little bit of mozzarella cheese, then a generous helping of the tomato mixture, a few slices of grilled chicken I heated up in the microwave, and a little more mozzarella on top to stick it all together.  The tomato mixture will fall all over the sides, and you will probably have a little left in the skillet, but we're gonna use that later!  Just put the chicken bruschetta in the oven for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is warm and the cheese is melted.  NOM.

Once it was gooey and delicious, I transferred the chicken from the baking sheet to a dinner plate, arranging baby spinach all around it.  I also added the extra sauce mixture because I always love a little extra!  I drizzled everything with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, hit it with a dash of black pepper, and it was ready to go.  If you would prefer, just serve it with a side salad with your favorite dressing.  See...leftovers can be totally delicious!

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