When you need a fridge full of leftovers, make jambalaya

Guest post by Baditude

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My partner and I have demanding schedules, and there are many weeks where we can only cook one or two nights. That means we rely heavily on leftovers to get us through. We both love trying new recipes, but when we don’t have time or energy, we come back to one recipe that we’ve found is versatile, healthy and keeps well as leftovers.

We call it Jambalaya, though we don’t claim it to be authentic. It can be done meatless or with pork, chicken, or shrimp. Sometimes we use bratwurst cut into coins. It’s also a great way to use up whatever random vegetables you have lying around that are about to go bad.

So without further ado, our Jambalaya recipe:


  • Half an onion, diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (we like it spicy, but you can omit this if you don’t like it)
  • 1 can black beans rinsed
  • 1 box of brown rice
  • 1 can of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Protein of your choice. This could be two or three chicken breasts, pork chops or pork loin, shrimp, bratwurst, or whatever else sounds good to you.
  • Olive oil or cooking oil
  • Cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.


  1. I start by dicing up my veggies, then on another cutting board, dicing up the meat into one-inch chunks.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil. Add the spices and let it sauté for a just a minute or two. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Now add the meat and brown. If needed, you can add more oil to keep the meat from sticking too much to the pan.
  3. Once the meat is browned, pour in the chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Then add the tomatoes, beans and rice. There should be enough liquid that some of the rice will be floating. If it seems like it won’t be enough, add a little water. Stir it all together and put the lid on to let it simmer 5-10 minutes until the rice is cooked.
  4. Last: add the green pepper and let it cook a few more minutes. We like our pepper to still have some crunch to it. If you don’t, you can add it earlier with the tomatoes.
  5. Give it a taste and see if it needs any more spice. I like to err on the side of too much spice rather than not enough. When it’s ready, grab a fork and a bowl and enjoy!

Other veggies that work in this dish:
Celery, zucchini, diced avocado as a garnish, fresh herbs. Use your imagination! Of course the better ingredients you use, the better it will be. If you have fresh tomatoes, use ’em. If you have awesome homemade chicken stock, go for it. If you’re like me (lazy), reach for the can opener.

When we make this, we usually get enough to last two of us three or four days. If you don’t think you want to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner three days in a row, just freeze the rest and you’ve got an easy meal that re-heats well.

Comments on When you need a fridge full of leftovers, make jambalaya

  1. This sounds really good. I’ve recently been turned on to the tastiness that is a can of Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and I bet they would work really well in this recipe (They’re not kidding with the fire-roasted flavor.)

  2. THIS is what I need to make! We’ve got leftover mexican rice, green peppers and sausages in the fridge that I’ve been eyeing for a couple days.

    I like throwing a bit of Worcestershire sauce in there too. 😀

  3. That sounds amazing! Any suggestions on how to make this with non instant rice? Do you think you could reduce the amount of water and use leftover already cooked rice?

    I can’t wait to try this!

    • Yeah, that would work. If you didn’t have leftover rice, you could just cook the rice separately and then add it in as the dish was finishing up. I usually just eyeball the amount of broth/water needed. Even with cooked rice you might want a little bit of liquid, since the cooked rice will still soak up any liquid in the dish.

  4. By the way, when you get down to the point in the leftovers that there’s not quite enough left to make a meal, add it into some eggs for a killer frittata.

  5. If you’re making this with shrimp, should you throw them in with the peppers? They don’t really brown and they cook very quickly, and overcooked shrimp are rubbery even for me. And I will gleefully eat raw octopus. More importantly, I have frozen Costco shrimp patiently waiting in my fridge.

  6. Hmm… My thought is that I would saute the shrimp in a separate pan until they are just cooked, and then yes, add them in with the peppers at the end. I’ve only done it with shrimp once and it was a few years ago now, so I can’t remember exactly how I did it. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, so whatever makes sense to you, go with it.

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