Use your cooker (or Instant Pot!) to make extra helpings of a cozy fall dinner. The best part? Discovering three ways to enjoy each dish.

By Ananda Eidelstein
Updated October 08, 2019
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Credit: Victor Protasio

The best kind of win in the kitchen is when you take the time to cook and the reward extends to more than just one meal. When you’ve got a big pot of something that you can freeze and pull it when you need it the most (busy—and lazy—days included). Even better, when you’ve got a big pot of something that you can enjoy in more than just one way by reinventing it into a whole new and different dish with zero fuss. This is what these collection of recipes is all about. Extra helpings that turn into inventive, cozy meals.

How to use a slow cooker has never looked so ample and overflowing with opportunity. It’s easy to let the slow cooker do its thing and then reap the rewards of the same big batch of grub over and over, there’s definitely something comforting about that. But in this case, each recipe basically has three completely different personalities, making it very hard to get tired of the same recipe that keeps on giving. This is perfect inspiration if you’ve been wondering what else you can do that’s not just slow cooker chili as these recipes will teach you new ways with familiar ingredients. And if you’re working with an Instant Pot ($79; amazon.com), fret not, pull it out of the cupboard and cook under the pressure cooker setting (the Instant Pot slow cooker setting works great, too!).

It’s simple, start by choosing one main recipe: Ginger-Coconut Pork with Butternut Squash, Tuscan Bread Soup With Beans (Ribollita), or Turkish-Syle Beef and Eggplant Stew. Each one can be served as is, straight from the pot the day it’s made with rice, a sprinkling of cheese, or some light and airy couscous, respectively—or freeze for future-you to thank you. The fun part: each recipe can turn into an entirely different meal, whether it’s leftovers, pre-made a day or two before, or defrosted. You pick. There are pulled pork nachos to be had or a warm kale salad! A soup can even turn into patties that we like to call Ribollita pancakes by just adding panko breadcrumbs! And a stew turns into a bowl of pasta reminiscent of Pasta Alla Norma and Bolognese!

You can only make so many slow cooker chilis, so grab some ingredients, pile them on, and press “start.” Kick back and you’ve got plenty of time to choose your own adventure.

Credit: Victor Protasio

1

Here’s proof that stew doesn’t have to be boring and flavorless. This coconut-infused pork and butternut squash stew is simmered until meltingly tender and deeply flavored. The base of the broth is coconut water, for a lighter option than coconut milk.

Get the recipe: Ginger-Coconut Pork With Butternut Squash

Credit: Victor Protasio

2

Even though this salad is packed with vegetables like butternut squash, onions, and of course, the kale, the dish manages to taste rich and decadent. Basically, it’s a win-win situation.

Get the recipe: Warm Kale Salad With Pork, Squash, and Sesame Dressing

Credit: Victor Protasio

3

Sure, you’ve had chili-doused nachos, and now it’s time to meet their sophisticated cousin: nachos made with Ginger-Coconut Pork With Butternut Squash. Shredded pork is standard fare, but it is the fork-tender butternut squash that steals the show with its gentle sweetness and creamy texture.

Get the recipe: Braised Pork and Squash Nachos

Credit: Victor Protasio

4

Ribollita is a recipe for steaming-hot comfort in a bowl. This Tuscan-style soup is packed with good-for-you vegetables (kale, carrots, tomatoes) and white beans to keep you full. Oh, and did we mention the bread? Yes, there’s half a loaf of bread in the broth, and a generous serving of Parmesan, too.

Get the recipe: Tuscan Bread Soup With Beans (Ribollita)

Credit: Victor Protasio

5

Here, leftover Ribollita (a bread-infused Tuscan soup that’s packed with vegetables and beans) becomes the base of shakshuka, a delicious, tomatoey poached-egg dish. Thanks to the chock-a-block ribollita, which already has a tomatoey broth, all you have to do is heat up the soup with a little water and pop the eggs right into the broth.

Get the recipe: Ribollita Shakshuka

Credit: Victor Protasio

6

When you’ve got leftover Ribollita (a Tuscan-style soup made with bread and vegetables), then you’ve got the makings of delicious savory pancakes. Yes, it might seem like an unlikely thing to do with extra soup, but the bread-infused broth is just three ingredients away from a batter.

Get the recipe: Ribollita Pancakes With Greens

Credit: Victor Protasio

7

This Turkish-inspired stew is proof that delicious, elegant flavors can come out of a slow cooker. The beef and eggplant simmer in a tangy and spicy tomato-based sauce until the meat is fork-tender and the eggplant is so soft it’s almost creamy. It’s an upgrade on everyday beef stew, making a bowl elegant enough for a dinner party and comforting enough for cozy, chilly evenings.

Get the recipe: Turkish-Style Beef and Eggplant Stew

Credit: Victor Protasio

8

Leftover Turkish-Style Beef and Eggplant Stew gets a second life in this quick and easy recipe, perfect for evenings when you can hardly bear the thought of cooking. The deeply flavored stew does the heavy lifting, since it’s already packed with spices, vegetables, and tender, braised meat.

Get the recipe: Beef and Eggplant Pitas With Garlic Yogurt

Credit: Victor Protasio

9

Classic pasta al ragù gets the Turkish treatment in this easy dinner recipe, which makes use of leftover Turkish-Style Beef and Eggplant Stew. It’s as simple as shredding the beef and simmering the stew with some tomato paste and butter (because, deliciousness) and stirring in wide tagliatelle noodles to sop up the tasty sauce.

Get the recipe: Beef and Eggplant Tagliatelle