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What To Do with Leftover Spaghetti and Other Pasta


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I have two kids, 12 and 4 1/2, and they loves them the spaghetti and meatballs. I usually make them a pound of pasta, thinking that I can get another meal out of it, but I often overshoot and have extra pasta that's lightly sauced.

A couple of days ago, I got an idea. I chopped up some homemade pancetta and sliced two garlic cloves. I sauteed the pancetta in a bit of olive oil until it was crispy, added the garlic, threw in a handful of red pepper flakes, got everything aromatic and then added the old spaghetti. Tossed it for a while, adding water toward the end to get up anything that had browned, and ate it with some parmigiano reggiano. It was a fantastic home alone dinner.

What other ideas do you have for leftover pasta in its various states?

Chris Amirault

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You can use it to make a fritatta. If the pasta browns a bit it's very delicious.

I believe that there's a southern Italian dish similar to 'eggs in purgatory' where eggs, carefully cracked to keep the yolks intact, are cooked on a bed of leftover pasta.

There's another Italian dish, sorry I do not recall the name, from the north, IIRC, where all sorts of pasta concoctions are layered into a giant pie/casserole. You could freeze leftovers until you have an assortment, then bake them in a casserole dish, with or without a crust.

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Make a noodle nest or noodle pancake with unsauced spaghetti. My daughter loved it cooked crispy in butter on medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Addictive and couldn't be simpler. If you make some stir-fry and serve it over crunchy noodles that's a nice change from over rice. If for some reason I end up with extra lightly sauced pasta (red sauce) I love it heated up with a lump of butter added, very simple. I also like to add a vegetable that's been sauteed with garlic, such as chard or raddichio or summer squash. Having leftovers is one of my major goals.

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I have two kids, 12 and 4 1/2, and they loves them the spaghetti and meatballs. I usually make them a pound of pasta, thinking that I can get another meal out of it, but I often overshoot and have extra pasta that's lightly sauced.

A couple of days ago, I got an idea. I chopped up some homemade pancetta and sliced two garlic cloves. I sauteed the pancetta in a bit of olive oil until it was crispy, added the garlic, threw in a handful of red pepper flakes, got everything aromatic and then added the old spaghetti. Tossed it for a while, adding water toward the end to get up anything that had browned, and ate it with some parmigiano reggiano. It was a fantastic home alone dinner.

What other ideas do you have for leftover pasta in its various states?

You sauteed the lightly sauced pasta like that? I thought we were the only ones. You've nailed my husband's all time favorite use for pasta, fried spaghetti. He sautees leftover sauced pasta (any sauce, any pasta)in with oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic till it's dry and the pasta has soaked up all the sauce, then covers it in handfuls of parmigiano reggiano, and stirs that in till it just begins to brown. He never thought about pancetta...that's genius. I'll have to pass that along.

I do unsauced pasta like that too, I'll just saute it in a pan with other leftover bits and eggs, sometimes making it into something like lo-mein, or maybe a weird Italian stir fry. If it doesn't get heated that way, someone usually warms it up and eats it with butter, garlic, and cheese.

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An old boyfriend contributed a favorite - his grandmother's recipe for fried spaghetti. Well, not so much a recipe, as a really great idea. A bit of olive oil in a skillet, start to brown some bread crumbs, add the sauced noodles, press down, eventually sprinkle with more crumbs and oil, flip over and when both sides are browned, it's ready to be topped with a little parm. :wub:

It's possible we originally used butter instead of olive oil. It's also possible I occasionally still do.

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Make a noodle nest or noodle pancake with unsauced spaghetti. My daughter loved it cooked crispy in butter on medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Addictive and couldn't be simpler. If you make some stir-fry and serve it over crunchy noodles that's a nice change from over rice. If for some reason I end up with extra lightly sauced pasta (red sauce) I love it heated up with a lump of butter added, very simple. I also like to add a vegetable that's been sauteed with garlic, such as chard or raddichio or summer squash. Having leftovers is one of my major goals.

Lots of fried spaghetti in my childhood home, too. I think my father "The Butter Fiend" actually preferred the fried version.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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I have two kids, 12 and 4 1/2, and they loves them the spaghetti and meatballs. I usually make them a pound of pasta, thinking that I can get another meal out of it, but I often overshoot and have extra pasta that's lightly sauced.

A couple of days ago, I got an idea. I chopped up some homemade pancetta and sliced two garlic cloves. I sauteed the pancetta in a bit of olive oil until it was crispy, added the garlic, threw in a handful of red pepper flakes, got everything aromatic and then added the old spaghetti. Tossed it for a while, adding water toward the end to get up anything that had browned, and ate it with some parmigiano reggiano. It was a fantastic home alone dinner.

What other ideas do you have for leftover pasta in its various states?

You sauteed the lightly sauced pasta like that? I thought we were the only ones. You've nailed my husband's all time favorite use for pasta, fried spaghetti. He sautees leftover sauced pasta (any sauce, any pasta)in with oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic till it's dry and the pasta has soaked up all the sauce, then covers it in handfuls of parmigiano reggiano, and stirs that in till it just begins to brown. He never thought about pancetta...that's genius. I'll have to pass that along.

I do unsauced pasta like that too, I'll just saute it in a pan with other leftover bits and eggs, sometimes making it into something like lo-mein, or maybe a weird Italian stir fry. If it doesn't get heated that way, someone usually warms it up and eats it with butter, garlic, and cheese.

Yep, fried spaghetti, you beat me to it!

I LOVE fried spaghetti.

When I was growing up none of us kids in my family would eat too much spaghetti at Sunday supper at my Grandmother's if we knew we would be at her house the next day as she would take the left-over spaghetti and fry it for us.

The trick to this is the spaghetti must sit overnight in the fridge with the sauce on it so that the pasta absorbs the water from the sauce. That way you can get a good char on the spaghetti when you fry it.

I recall Grandma making it in a cast iron skillet but I use a regular frying pan.

Get the pan hot then add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. As soon as the oil is hot put your left-over spaghetti in the pan, smoosh it down and let it brown/char as much as you like. For me, the more charred the better. I cut what is at that point like a spaghetti pancake into quarters with a spatula so I can flip it a piece at a time.

The best!

Better yet is if you have some sliced, seeded Italian bread, butter two pieces and put the pasta between the two slices for a fried spaghetti sandwich.

Oh geeze, now I am totally craving it!

There is an Italian word for cooking pasta with tomato sauce to the point of scorching. I wish I could remember it. I used to frequent an Italian place that did their linguini with red clam sauce that way.

ETA- Ha! Yesterday I took from the freezer what I thought was a container of chili. After posting this I went to warm it up for lunch only to dicover it is a container of sauce not chili! Woot, woot! What a happy accident. I always label what goes into the freezer but this happened to be unlabled. I am psyched to have fried spaghetti tomorrow!

Edited by LuckyGirl (log)
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Wow. So I was looking at a bag of Kluski noodles and thought what a great lunch from my past. fried noodles. Then this. It was one of my childhood favorites - along with my sister. My mom would make noodles (never called it pasta then) for spaghetti and meatballs or sauce; or for soup (these were never served together - the noodles were separate and you put them on the plate, then the sauce, or you ladled out soup into bowls, and put noodles in). Anyway, there were always a surplus of noodles, often intentionally. And we had our treat for lunch the next day; Fried noodles - Fried inn butter with lots of pepper, and a little salt. After frying, more fresh butter melted on.

So now I sometimes make this myself, but mostly specifically for this purpose. I like the Kluski or spaghetti for this. I've also learned of the egg and spaghetti omelette/fritata (it's really more of a pancake). A few eggs in the pasta, maybe garlic, onion, whatever, fry on both sides till a little crispy. Then some cheese or not. Really good. Mostly I've had this with unsauced pasta, but sauced would probably be fine.

Then - the bread crumb, anchovy, and garlic, hot pepper flake in olive oil method (or lessor combitions of these). Heat up some olive oil, add chopped anchovies (or anchovy paste), cook till they start falling apart, add the garlic and hot pepper flakes, heat till fragrant, then add the bread crumbs and pasta and cook till heated and a little browned. Another surprising dish. A meal with a salad.

The last one comes from a friend who used to make garbage soup! Every leftover in the fridge into the pot - cook far a long time - eat. Her kids were making it and I being a guest was not about to complain, though I did think of excusing myself, and going out for a pizza. But it was good. Not just OK, but pretty good. I'm not sure how picky they were about combinations of things, or how they made additions of fresh foods, but the result was good. I still don't do this. But, upon telling others, a use for pasta (sauced or not - but a great use for sauced as there are few other uses) is to make a broth - with veges etc. as complicated or as simple as you like. Then add the leftover pasta at the end, heat to boiling and you have a great soup. The broth should emulate the sauce - so with a red sauce - make a tomato based broth, or a chicken or beef soup that would be great with a hint of tomato in it. A cream base sauce would go with a cream based soup. You get the picture.

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