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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

3 Creative Ways to Use Leftover Pasta | Authentic Italian Leftover Recipes

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

No Italian cook worth his or her salt would dream of simply reheating some leftover pasta and eating it as is. Pasta is a dish best served immediately, and the gummy mess of reheated leftovers is enough to make an Italian shudder. Not to worry, though! Luckily, there are many creative and delicious ways to use leftover pasta. Here are three of our favorites...

Before we begin, we would recommend that readers familiarize themselves with the proper way to save leftover pasta, which is to keep it white (sauceless) and stir in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Leaving it plain gives you more options when choosing how to use it later, and the olive oil helps it from sticking together.

Already mixed your pasta into a sauce? Not to worry, our third recipe will hopefully provide some inspiration on how to turn it into a delicious next-day meal!

Watch the video where we make these recipes here:

Frittata di Pasta

This is perhaps the most classic and versatile Italian dish using leftover pasta. It's a real "fridge cleaner," as you can use other types of leftovers you may have kicking around. We made this one with ham and smoked mozzarella, but feel free to substitute with other meats and cheeses that you may prefer (or need to get rid of). While this recipe works best with spaghetti, you can adapt it to just about any type of pasta you have.

Frittata di Pasta

As with all three of these recipes, we will in general be providing vague ingredient measurements. Because of the nature of leftover dishes, you'll have to use your judgement depending on how much leftover pasta you have. For instance, a small amount of leftover spaghetti won't need as many eggs to make a frittata as an entire platter of pasta would.

For this recipe you will need:

- Cold cooked pasta

- Eggs (3-5, depending on the size of your frittata)

- Chopped ham (optional)

- Chopped smoked mozzarella cheese (optional)

- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating

- Olive oil

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper

Whisk the eggs with a generous grating of Parmigiano cheese, a pinch of salt and black pepper.

In a non-stick pan, bring a tablespoon of olive oil up to medium temperature on the stovetop. If adding ham or another meat, sautèe for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and stir for an additional 2-3 minutes, just enough to heat and soften it. Sprinkle the mozzarella or other cheese on top, then pour the egg mixture in. Use a spatula, if necessary, to even spread the pasta and egg in the pan.

Cover the pan and allow to cook, using a spatula to check the bottom of the frittata occasionally. When the bottom starts to brown and become crispy, carefully slide the frittata onto a flat plate or pan lid. Place the pan upside down over the frittata, and flip it so that the top can be cooked.

Return to the stove and continue to cook until the bottom is crispy and golden like the top. Buon appetito!

Tortino di Fusilli

These adorable "muffins" are a great way to use short pasta, such as fusilli or rigatoni, and are particularly suited to small quantities of leftovers. We made ours in small springform molds but cupcake trays and other vessels can work as well.

Tortino di Fusilli

For this recipe, you will need:

- Cold cooked pasta (fusilli, rigatoni, penne or similar recommended)

- Ricotta cheese

- Cubed mozzarella cheese

- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/2 cup per tortino)

- Milk

- Cherry tomatoes, halved (we used about 1 cup per tortini, plus a few extra for topping; adjust accordingly)

- Olive oil

- Bread crumbs

- 1 clove garlic

- Fresh basil

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with a generous grating of Parmigiano, a splash of milk, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Use your judgement on the amounts here, you just need enough to thickly coat the amount of pasta you have available.

In a medium skillet, bring 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil up to medium temp on the stovetop. Add the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cover and allow to cook until the tomatoes soften. Mash them into a pulp with a fork. Add a few leaves of torn fresh basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the garlic and add the pasta. Stir into the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes, until the pasta has been heated and softened a bit. Add the pasta and tomatoes into the ricotta mix, plus some cubed mozzarella. We used about a 1/2 cup for two tortini, but feel free to adjust to your preference. Stir all together thoroughly.

Oil the bottom and sides of your springform molds and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the bottoms. Ladle the pasta into the molds, filling them to the brim. Top with slices of cherry tomatoes and grated Parmigiano cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the top has begun to get crispy. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before removing the mold and serving. Buon appetito!

Pasticcio di Tagliatelle

This "pasta al forno," or baked pasta dish, is an excellent way to use leftover fresh pasta that has already been mixed into a sauce. We used fresh tagliatelle in ragù alla Bolognese.

For this recipe, you will need:

- Cold cooked pasta in ragù sauce

- 2 tbsp (50g) unsalted butter

- 2 tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour

- 2 cups (1/2 liter) whole milk

- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

- Olive oil

- Grated nutmeg

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).

Begin by making a besciamella sauce. Warm the milk in a small sauce pan. In another small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour over medium/low heat. Whisk constantly into a thick paste. Add the warm milk while continuing to whisk until the flour paste mixes in thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a pinch of nutmeg. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens into a gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a non-stick pan and bring up to medium heat on the stovetop. Add the leftover tagliatelle and stir until the pasta is heated and has softened slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a pie or small casserole dish, spoon a layer of besciamella sauce, topped with a layer of pasta, another layer of besciamella, and a grating of Parmigiano cheese.

Repeat with one more layer of pasta, besciamella and Parmigiano.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top has started to crisp and brown slightly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Buon appetito!

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1 Comment

Ruth Lang
Ruth Lang
Oct 16, 2021

Thanks for the great video, guys!

I'm making the Frittata di Pasta right now.

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