When cooking pasta, I always cook more than I need for one specific recipe. Then I store the leftover pasta in the fridge and use it in many other recipes. Even if you don't do this deliberately, and there's pasta leftover after making Spaghetti and Meatballs, for instance, store it to save money and for a quick start to another meal.
Here's how to store leftover cooked pasta:
- While pasta is still warm, toss with 1-3 teaspoons of plain vegetable oil so the strands don't stick together when they cool. You can use any kind of oil, but I like to use plain old olive oil for the flavor and health benefits.
- You can do this with any kind of pasta, from spaghetti to penne to small shells. Lasagna noodles and large shells for stuffing do work this way, but not as well as the smaller types of pasta.
- Place the pasta into a food storage bag and set it, unsealed, in the refrigerator.
- When the pasta is completely cool, seal the bag and lightly toss the bag to make sure the pasta is not sticking together and is lightly coated with the oil.
- Use the pasta cold if the recipe calls for it. You can also reheat the pasta by dropping into a pot of rapidly boiling water for 30-60 seconds, just until hot. Do not leave the pasta in the water for longer than one minute or it will overcook! Continue with the recipe.
Use leftover refrigerated pasta in these recipes:
- Reheat pasta as directed above and top with any pasta sauce. You can use tomato sauce, an Alfredo sauce, or pesto.
- Use the cold pasta in a Pasta Frittata, following these Step by Step Directions. The pasta makes an excellent base for the frittata. You can even use leftover Spaghetti Carbonara, in Carbonara Frittata. The cheese and bacon add great flavor to the frittata.
- Reheat pasta as directed above and use in any Pasta Salad.
- For small pasta shapes, like orzo or small noodles, use the cold cooked pasta in a stir fry recipe. Add the pasta in the last couple minutes of cooking time so it doesn't break down.