There are some items I suspect we’ve all stocked up on recently, like rice, beans, and pasta. We’re all about those non-perishables. Whether you eat all your quarantine supplies during actual quarantine or after, you’ll probably find that you have a surplus of some things, like pasta, and if you don’t find creative ways to use it, you’ll grow tired of it before it expires.
Pasta is actually a very versatile food. It can do so much more than the traditional spaghetti and Bolognese or macaroni and cheese. There are so many different types of pasta, from the dozens of shapes like fettuccine, tagliatelle, rigatoni, and lasagna to the many different ingredients like, of course, white flour but also brown rice, potato, lentil, and chickpea. The rise of the gluten-free diet has borne many delicious gluten-free pastas that actually offer more nutrition than the traditional stuff, and present interesting flavor profiles that open up the possibilities for recipes.
If you are staring down boxes and boxes of pasta that you bought for your quarantine, but now couldn’t possibly stomach one more bowl of spaghetti in red sauce or fettuccine Bolognese, know that there are other ways to use this food. It tastes great in several types of cuisine—not just Italian—and can be cooked in a lot of ways other than simply boiled. You can fry it, you can eat it cold, you can turn it into a casserole, and you can put it in a soup. It’s important to be creative with your recipes so you don’t throw away an ingredient, just because you think you’re out of ways to use it. Throwing away food is always a shame. I’m regularly looking for ways to minimize that. Here are creative things you can do with your pasta and noodles.
All you need to do to make these is toss your cold pasta up with some beaten eggs to help the noddles stick together. Form little cakes with the mixture, and fry. You can add things like cheddar cheese, chives, or bacon bits. Just flip the small fritters over when they become brown and crispy.
Noodles add a nice consistency and heartiness to soup. If you’re already making a vegetable soup with broth, zucchini, carrots, celery, and your choice of protein, just throw a few ounces of your preferred pasta in the mixture when it’s simmering and it will cook with the soup.
Why not try a baked pasta dish? You can put macaroni in an oven-safe dish with ricotta, peas, pancetta, crumbled sausage, diced tomatoes—really anything you want—and cover the mixture with mozzarella cheese. Sometimes, just reshaping a familiar food makes it exciting again.
Turn that spaghetti and meatball dinner into a pie. This recipe shows you how to turn spaghetti into a piecrust and put the meatballs in the center. The result is a crispy pie that you can cut into slices, and garnish with things like parsley or parmesan cheese.
There are so many ways to make pasta salad. You can go with a simple penne, olives, ham, tomatoes, cucumber, and feta, for a Greek/Chef’s salad combo. You can do a cold pesto pasta with spaghetti and chickpeas. You can do a classic macaroni salad. Or how about rotini with broccoli and salami and jack cheese.
Noodle quiche cups
Use a muffin tin to make flaky and tasty noodle quiche cups. Put your preferred quiche mixture in a bowl, and then whisk in some noodles. The noodles will come out of the oven crispy, adding a nice texture to your quiche. Dress these up with things like ham pieces and chopped vegetables.
If you don’t want to see another plate of ravioli smothered in marinara or alfredo sauce, you can always drop your ravioli in your soup. The soup makes the ravioli pasta extra tender. Just drop, for example, chicken or beef tortellini in a vegetable soup for a full meal.
Eggs over pasta
Fry your noodles in a pan with some bacon pits and throw your sunny-side-up eggs over them. You can add ketchup, hot sauce, or whatever you’d typically put on breakfast potatoes. You can also fry the noodles up with red onions and bell peppers.
Remember that a noodle stir fry starts with noodles. And it doesn’t have to be the ones you’d find in an Asian market. Most types of noodles will taste good with sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, and your favorite meats and veggies.
Pile your pasta on top of your pizza. You can either make your pizza from scratch, make a frozen one, or even order a plain cheese one. Then just dump your spaghetti and meatballs, shrimp pesto pasta, or other leftover pasta right on top of the pizza. I promise you won’t regret it.
Spaghetti and meatball sub
Upgrade your meatball sub to a spaghetti and meatball sub. Or, put your fettuccine alfredo in a roll for a different kind of sub. There is something very satisfying about the combination of pasta and bread. You usually dip your bread in your pasta dish, so why not reframe it this way?
If you haven’t put spaghetti and meatballs inside a crispy taco shell, then you haven’t lived. There are a few ways to use pasta in Mexican food. Put spaghetti inside enchiladas. Add penne, cheese, and chicken inside a quesadilla. Put rigatoni and shrimp inside of a burrito.
Mix it with spaghetti squash
You can create a reduced-carb dish by combining spaghetti squash and regular spaghetti. It’s an easy way to get more vegetables, and spaghetti squash tastes good with most things regular spaghetti does. Have it hot, or have it cold as a salad.
If you’re making a frittata, whisk some pasta into your egg mixture. It’s like the bigger version of the mini quiches. Make sure to put a layer of pasta on the very top of the baking pan, because it will brown in the oven and add a nice crispy texture.
Mini lasagna rolls
If you’re over regular hot lasagna, consider making mini lasagna rolls. Get your lasagna noodles ready, and rather than laying them in a baking dish, fill each one with things like pesto and shredded chicken or ricotta and ground turkey, roll them up, and eat them by hand.