Let’s face it. Pasta reheated in the microwave can be underwhelming. It can get clumpy and gooey, you can have lava hot spots beside ice cold spots, it can dry out… Rarely is a container of microwaved pasta as good as it was the day it was freshly made.
But, all is not lost! It is possible to reheat leftover pasta so that it tastes good, and you’re actually excited about eating your leftovers.
This works if you keep your pasta and sauce separate. When you cook pasta the first time around, portion out what you will eat at that meal, then rinse the remaining un-sauced pasta under cold water to stop the cooking and prevent it from getting mushy.
When you’re ready to reheat your pasta, simply boil a pot of water, dunk the noodles in for about 30-60 seconds, drain and then you can put the pasta and cold sauce directly back into the hot pot to mix them together and heat the sauce.
If you’re taking your pasta and sauce to work, boil water in a kettle or even the microwave, then (carefully) poor it over your pasta in a container or large bowl. Wait 30-60 seconds, then drain. In this case, you’ll want to zap your sauce in the microwave for another 30-60 seconds to warm it up before topping your pasta.
This is a truly unique and hearty way to use up leftover baked pastas like lasagna or cannelloni as the baked cheese is just so good in a soup. Cut your cold lasagna (or other baked pasta) into bite sized pieces. bring a saucepan of chicken or vegetable broth to a simmer. Add your pasta, stir well, and continue simmering for a minute or two to get it nice and heated through. The cheesy chunks and soft pasta bites are the ultimate cold weather comfort food!
If you’re doing this at work, bring your pasta already cut into chunks and your soup broth in a separate microwave safe container. Zap the pasta chunks 30-60 seconds, stir them up, then zap again for another 30-60 seconds. Next, heat the broth till near simmering. Combine pasta and broth in a bowl or container and stir well. If the pasta didn’t heat through when you microwaved it, the hot broth will continue to warm it up nicely.
For pasta that already has sauce on it, bring a few tablespoons of water to a simmer in a low frying pan that has a tight fitting lid. Add your pasta and put the lid on. Wait about 30 seconds, remove lid, stir it around, then close the lid for another 30 seconds. Continue this process until heated through.
Continually stirring ensures it gets evenly heated and you don’t get any mushy, overcooked bits. The steam from the small amount of water will revive the sauce and noodles so your food doesn’t dry out.
This method can work well in an office microwave, if you’re very attentive. Add a little water to a microwave safe container or bowl, with your leftover pasta. Zap for 30-60 seconds, remove, stir well, zap again, and repeat until well heated. The steam from the water will revive your pasta and give you a more even heating. Stirring often will keep it from turning to a gluey mess.
This method works best if you like a little crispness to your pasta. Spread your leftovers out evenly on a baking tray and bake at 350 for about 15 to 20 minutes, flipping once about halfway through. This will give you evenly heated pasta and some nice crispy bites of toasted deliciousness. To take this up a notch, add a little cheese on top. Yum!
Reheating pasta this way tends to stick to the tray, so you will want to line the tray with parchment paper, or a reusable silicone liner, or very lightly oil a non-stick baking tray before adding pasta.
This option obviously won’t work in your office microwave, but if your office has a toaster oven, you can absolutely do this in small batches on the toaster oven tray. Just be considerate of your office mates and bring a piece of foil to cover the tray, so you aren’t leaving stuck-on pasta bits for eternity.
Leftovers are some of the most commonly wasted household foods. And, with household food waste being the source of about 40% of all food waste, that’s a big problem. Part of the problem with leftovers is that they often just don’t taste as good when reheated… unless we reheat them the right way! When we do, we not only get a delicious meal, we save money, save time, save food and save the planet. When you think about it like that, what’s not to love about leftovers?
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