Use Your Leftovers: Herb Chicken Pizza

Use Your Leftovers: Herb Chicken Pizza

Now that we’ve re-acquired our backyard, we’ve made it a point to grill just about every warm weekend. Polynesian Flank Steak. Ginger-and-Honey-Marinated Chicken. Kebabs. Plain ol’ burgers. A farmers’ market worth of vegetables. It don’t matter, so long as food emerges with those deliciously charred grill marks. Every meal ends with s’mores, of course, which makes a certain someone quite happy:

Since we’re going to the trouble of lighting charcoal and shlepping everything down a short flight of stairs (then back up to actually eat—it’s been too chilly for al fresco dining), I like to make sure there are leftovers. Which then raises a familiar challenge: what the heck to do with them.

Recently I marinated chicken in a simple lemon-herb combo (here are versions with oregano and with rosemary). I tossed two extra breasts into the bowl, with no particular intention other than to create a weekday option or two.

While walking Harry home from school a few days later, I asked what he’d like for dinner. I knew what he’d say, since it’s what he says every time I ask: pizza. Stephen’s been working late a lot, which renders family dinner catch-as-catch can—at least once a week junior helps me assemble “pizza” made from a store-bought flatbread topped with the merest hint of Little Gram’s Sauce, mozzarella, and kalamata olives. This time, though, Stephen would actually be joining us. This time, we’d make a real pizza.

Of course I hadn’t planned ahead enough to make dough—did I mention we were walking home at 5:30?—so we ducked into a pizza place and bought some of theirs. Harry got his own knob of dough to customize (see above), and for Stephen and me, I made a zingy little white-and-green pizza that didn’t seem at all like leftovers.

What’s your favorite thing to do with leftovers? Your must unusual?

This recipe has a bonus: You’ll likely have extra garlic-herb-oil mixture. That’s right, fresh leftovers sprung from other leftovers. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week, and use it to top pasta or vegetables, as a sauce for simply cooked proteins, or just to dunk crusty bread.

Herb Chicken Pizza
Serves 4

Note: If you’re lucky enough to have leftover cooked vegetables, skip the zucchini and use them. And if you don’t have zucchini, roast whatever veg you do have—the idea of using leftovers is to be flexible.

1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
salt & pepper
1 clove garlic
3 handfuls fresh herbs, leaves only (I used flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, and mint)
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
flour, for rolling
1 pound prepared pizza dough (whole wheat or regular), at room temperature
4-6 ounces leftover cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (lemon-marinated is especially nice)
6 ounces shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets—ideally, you’ll use parchment for the sheet holding the pizza.

  1. Toss the zucchini with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper to taste, then spread in a single layer on one baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once partway through—you want the zucchini to be soft but not browned. When it’s done, increase oven temp to 500°F.
  2. While that’s roasting, combine remaining olive oil, garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes, and a bit more salt & pepper in a mini-food processor or blender. Whir until solids are finely chopped—nearly a puree, but not quite. Set aside while you prepare the crust.
  3. Dust your clean work surface with flour, and place the dough on top. If you’re dealing with picky eaters, cut off a scant quarter of the dough (approximate) for customized toppings. Use your hands to stretch remaining dough into a shape that’s roughly circular, pressing with your fingers to form a crust. If it’s the entire piece of dough, it should wind up roughly 14-16 inches across—less if you’ve removed some, obviously. Transfer to the second baking sheet.
  4. Spread a thin, even layer of the garlic-herb mixture over the dough (store any leftover herb sauce in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week). Scatter the roasted zucchini and chicken on top, followed by the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Baby’s just starting on solids? Roast an additional zucchini and puree that. For a slightly more experienced eater, add some of the herb sauce (leave out the pepper flakes) and cooked chicken. For finger food, toss some cooked zucchini and chicken with the herb sauce—or leave it plain—and serve with some shredded mozz and a hunk of your pizza crust.