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4 smart ways to turn barbecue leftovers into delicious new meals

Transform burgers and buns into pasta Bolognese and French toast.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Justin Chapple, the test kitchen pro behind Food & Wine's Mad Genius Tips, shared four creative ways to use leftovers from a barbecue.

1. Leftover cooked hamburger patties

Next time there are a few extra cooked hamburger patties, make a cheater's Bolognese sauce!

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Cheater's Bolognese recipe hack: Finely chop four to six 4-ounce hamburger patties. In a large saucepan, combine the finely chopped burgers with one 24-ounce jar of high-quality marinara sauce and simmer until tender. Spoon over cooked spaghetti, top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

2. Leftover chicken and barbecue sauce

Leftover grilled chicken makes a wonderful sandwich, but it also makes the best pizza topping.

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

BBQ chicken pizza recipe hack: In a bowl, mix 1½ to 2 cups shredded or chopped grilled chicken with 1/2 to 3/4 cup leftover BBQ sauce. On a lightly oiled baking sheet, stretch 1 pound of store-bought pizza dough into a large oval. Sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese, leaving a 1-inch border of dough. Scatter the chicken on the pizza and season with pepper. Bake at 450 F until crusty and hot. Top with baby arugula before serving.

3. Leftover watermelon

Didn't eat all those watermelon wedges? No problem! With just a few ingredients it's possible to make a refreshing watermelon soup.

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Watermelon soup recipe hack: In a blender or food processor, combine 1 pound of chopped watermelon with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar, and puree until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped dill and crumbled feta cheese.

4. Leftover hot dog or hamburger buns

Let's face it, at some point or another there will be extra buns after a barbecue. Rather than stick them in the freezer, try transforming them into French toast.

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Hot dog bun and hamburger bun French toast recipe hack: In a shallow bowl, beat 3 large eggs with 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. In a large nonstick skillet, melt some butter. Working with 1 split bun at a time, dip the buns in the egg mixture to coat lightly. Add to the skillet and cook, turning, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining buns. Transfer to plates, dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with maple syrup.

This article was originally published on May 31, 2016.