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TIP OF THE DAY: Recipes For Leftover Pasta

We made one box too many of pasta last night, thinking our guests would eat as much as we did. Now, what to do with all that leftover pasta?

If it hasn’t been sauced, there’s got lots of flexibility. Whether you have long form pasta (fettuccini, spaghetti, etc.) or short forms (elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.), you can turn it into a completely different dish.

  • Buttered noodles. Season with garlic and/or fresh parsley and serve them as a side or a bed for grilled meats, fish, or stew.
  • Casserole. Casseroles are a catch-all for all types of ingredients. Toss the pasta in with whatever else you have in the fridge.

    Leftover pasta is a delicious addition to soup.
    Photo courtesy House Foods.


  • Cold sesame noodles. There’s no reason you have to use spaghetti in an Italian-style recipe. Thai peanut sauce, traditionally served with spaghetti, tastes equally delicious on bowties, wagon wheels and other short cuts.
  • Frittata. Combine the pasta with eggs, veggies and some cheese for a breakfast, lunch or light dinner dish. Here’s a recipe.

    A spaghetti frittata. Photo courtesy

  • Green salad. Mix short cuts in with the greens, and trim long cuts into shorter bites.
  • Pasta cole slaw. Mix cut-up long form pasta with shredded cabbage and your favorite cole slaw dressing.
  • Pasta salad. Cut long pasta into bit-size pieces as needed. Mix the pasta with your favorite veggies and a delicious vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar or Dijon mustard (how to make vinaigrette). Fresh herbs add the magic. Here’s are recipes for an easy pasta salad with tomatoes and spinach, and a Caprese pasta salad with mozzarella.
  • Soup. Long cut or sort cut pasta works well in any soup or broth.
  • Tuna-pasta salad. Pasta stretches that can of tuna very nicely. Here’s a southwestern-style tuna pasta salad recipe.
  • Sauce switch. Serve the pasta with a completely different sauce—a white sauce like clam sauce if you originally served a tomato sauce, or a vegetable puree—they’re all delicious atop pasta, and pumpkin purée is a nice touch any time of the year.

  • Stir-fry. Toss the pasta into the pan or wok with the veggies and protein. If you’re using long cut pasta, trim it into manageable strands.

    Instead of simply reheating and serving, look for way to enhance the dish. For example:

  • Top with grilled, sautéed or steamed bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and/or onions.
  • Stir in sautéed spinach or chard.
  • Add capers, olives and optional anchovies.
  • Add a protein: crumbled bacon, diced chicken, prosciutto or ham, sliced sausage, etc.
  • Switch up the heat with minced chiles, hot sauce or salsa.
  • Use a non-traditional cheese, like crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese; or add diced mozzarella cubes.
    Do you have a favorite use for leftover pasta? Let us know.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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