8 Ideas For Leftover Pasta – Inspired by Elf

“Jamie Oliver would not approve of Elf, a Hollywood spin-off, which opened on the West End this week. Boy, it’s sugary.

To stave off a diabetic high at the interval, I ordered myself a Diet Coke – the first time I have ever done that. It was little more palatable than the show.”

Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail


I recently went to see Elf with my 26 year old daughter.

There is not that much to be said for this musical – none of the songs were very catchy, and part of the plot concerns a search for a plot, but they should probably have gone on looking.

From a culinary point of view, aside from the fact that, as Letts comments above, it is enough to put you off sugar for life, there was little of interest either, except when the two heroes connive on the excellence of eating cold pasta for breakfast. It sounds wholly disgusting to me and so I suddenly felt the crying need to consider the various uses of left over pasta which really are good to eat.


How to keep and reheat leftover pasta

You can reheat pasta of course, re-presenting it in its more or less original form. You just need to rinse the pasta in cold water (this stops it from continuing to cook), drain it, leave in the open air for fifteen minutes or so to cool and dry and then keep it in something airtight – I use a tuppa.

Reheat either in a microwave on high for a minute, or by pouring over boiling water, and serve with leftover original sauce, or with a jar of pesto, or simply with garlic, oil, salt and pepper and a green salad.


Other things to do with leftover pasta:
  • Add at the last minute to stir fries – especially one made with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, a little dry sherry and some cooked prawns and diced chorizo – this is a meal in itself
  • Variation on the stir fry theme – reheat as described above and serve with sesame oil, good quality soy sauce and chopped spring onions…. You could also add peanuts. This is especially good with thin pasta – chopped spaghetti or spaghettini
  • Make a bake with condensed mushroom soup (or if you don’t have any of this try a mix of cream cheese and chicken stock), leftover broccoli. Grate over some cheddar, or whatever other hard cheese you have to hand, and bake for fifteen minutes or so.
  • Make it into a store cupboard tuna and sweetcorn salad, adding some yoghurt, mayonnaise, spring onion and chopped peppers, also chopped watercress or rocket
  • Defrost some frozen peas in olive oil for a couple of minutes, add chopped mint, the pasta, some feta, and some gently warmed yoghurt
  • some good ideas for what to do with leftover pasta
    frying the first side is easy…. it’s the flipping that’s flipping impossible….

    You can make a sort of pasta version of rösti if you have a couple of cups of pasta, a frittata di pasta: In a small, round frying pan fry a chopped onion in olive oil and add it to a mixing bowl in which you have beaten one or two eggs (2 eggs for 200g/1¼ cups of pasta) – the secret is to use as little egg as possible. It should just hold the pasta together. Add the pasta, salt and some parmesan and stir. Add a little more oil to the pan and get it good and hot. Tip in the pasta/egg mixture. Fry for four or five minutes, then slide onto a plate and flip, returning to the pan to cook the uncooked side – fry for another couple of minutes. Season generously. Personally I find this very difficult. Even if you can’t manage to flip it over, just bear in mind that the idea is to have some crispy egg mixture along with the heated up pasta. Getting the oil hot enough is another key.

  • The best use for left over pasta to my mind is as a sort of replacement to croûtons on salad. Less is more in this situation – the salad should remain a salad, not become predominantly pasta.


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