Have you caught yourself in front of the fridge, sighing & closing the door? Refashion those leftovers into something marvelous! Here are ways to use leftover pasta, rice and grains.
Keep in mind your leftovers might not be an exact amount a recipe calls for. Baking is more of a science, cooking is an art and art is always open to interpretation! Feel free to scale & estimate.
Store in the fridge for two to three days, but for the freshest tasting rice, freeze. Ziploc bags work great for family size or individual portions. Thaw just long enough to get the bag off then reheat, lightly covered, in the microwave. Make sure to quickly refrigerate or freeze rice or certain pathogens may grow.
1. Fried Rice:
A no-brainer. Leftover rice, an egg or two, some meat or veggie. The sauce can be as easy as just Soy or more complex . Fried Rice is best made with old & cold rice. Here’s a basic recipe with lots of tips & a fun recipe to get you started.
2. Chicken & Rice Soup:
I mean c’mon. Chicken & Rice Soup is a classic. I figured out a long time ago that cooking rice separate from the soup keeps it all gorgeous and beautiful, so leftover is perfect.
3. Rice Pudding:
Many rice puddings start out with raw rice. Here’s a Healthier Rice Pudding that starts out with 1 cup of cooked rice. And it’s easy. You’re usually looking for equal parts rice and liquid.
4. Add it to a Bowl:
Yes. Any kind of a bowl. Meat or Veggie or Meat & Veggie ‘Coz Rice can take you so many places. To Mexico with shredded beef, pork, chicken. To Cuba with black beans and veggies. To Asia with stir fried veggies. You get the idea.
5. Season & Reheat:
Give leftover rice a second go by adding a little butter or oil large skillet, cooking the rice for a minute, stirring it around, then add in a little liquid if needed, your fave seasonings or seasoning blend. Cajun anyone? Maybe Italian Blend? Turn it out when it’s piping hot.
6. Stuffed Bell Peppers:
Many recipes for Stuffed Peppers like these Old World Peppers (they’re cooked in the microwave and super fast!) call for a little cooked rice in the recipe. Why not take a shortcut?
7. Tomato & Rice Soup:
Add rice to any tomato-based soup. It’s especially good in this Zucchini and Tomato Bisque. If the rice thickens the soup too much, just add a little water or dairy.
8. Egg & Rice Breakfast Skillets:
The easy method for Egg & Rice Breakfast Skillets works for just about any leftover rice or rice dish you have. It’s a great back pocket recipe.
Stir the rice into whatever filling you’re using. Try it with plain old refried beans. Or with beans and another filling. No filling and want something really quick? Saute bell pepper strips and add a little cream, like this recipe for Rajas con Crema.
10. Forbidden Rice Salad:
While normally made with a specialty rice, any cooked rice could be the basis for Forbidden Rice Salad. The dressing would make anything taste good.
Leftover Pasta & Noodles:
Store by draining, tossing with a tablespoon or two of oil and refrigerating, uncovered, until cool. Once cool, cover and keep for three to five days. Reheat in boiling water for a minute or reheat in the microwave.
1. Pasta Salad:
There are a zillion ways to make pasta salad from Classic American Macaroni Salad types to this Cold Asian Peanut Salad, to well, you name it.
2. Pasta Frittata:
Check out the basic Pasta Frittata and all the variations at the Spruce. Don’t let the name fool you, the dish looks amazing.
3. Creamy Garlic Pasta:
There are endless variations, but for a basic one, saute a clove of garlic in a tablespoon of butter, add a little cream cheese and sour cream and toss. Add a few herbs, leftover ham, maybe some peas.
4. Spaghetti Pie:
The flavors of lasagna with leftover spaghetti. Some are huge extravaganzas but a simple recipe can easily be scaled down. Take a look at this recipe by Wholefully.
5. Pasta & Cheese:
Mix pasta with cheese, cover with a well seasoned White Sauce and bake until hot and bubbly.
6. Fried Ravioli:
Just a few leftover and not enough for a meal? Bread by dipping into flour, then an egg wash (egg mixed with a tablespoon of water), cover with seasoned bread crumbs and deep fry 350 degrees.
7. Lasagna Roll-ups:
Use a little sauce if there’s some left over, spread it down the noodle. Layer with whatever you’d like, pepperoni, prosciutto or other thin meat. Sprinkle with cheese and warm through in the oven, with or without more sauce.
8. Toasted Spaghetti:
Mix with egg and Parmesan cheese, 1 egg to a cup of noodles, 1/4 cup of cheese. Coat a skillet with oil, heat and in small patty shaped rounds, turning when golden brown and slightly crunchy.
9. Mee Goreng (Spicy Fried Noodles):
It’s said every cook has their own version of Mee Goreng. Some believe that spaghetti noodles work better than the authentic ones on our US stoves. Our stoves just do not run hot enough.
10. Fresh Pasta Sauce:
Toss leftover pasta with a quick sauce made with cherry tomatoes (or chunks of tomato) garlic and herbs for a Fresh Sauce.
Grains typically take awhile to cook. I’m used to dealing with leftover because I’ll make more than I need for a recipe and freeze in small quantities for recipes.
There are so many grains, I can’t cover them all, but many can be treated in the same way.
1. Add to Salads & Bowls:
A no-brainer. I love adding grains to my salads. Here’s a Spinach & Quinoa Salad with Blueberries, Pears & Candied Pecans for some inspiration.
Add grains to any tomato-based soup. Try this Zucchini and Tomato Bisque. You can’t go wrong adding to a Vegetable Soup or Minnestrone.
Stir grains into whatever filling you’re using. Try it with plain old refried beans. Or with beans and another filling. No filling and want something really quick? Saute bell pepper strips and add a little cream, like this recipe for Rajas con Crema.
4. Mix with Veggies:
Give leftover grains new life by mixing them with your veggie sides like in this Southwestern Protein Mix. It’s a great budget way to mimic those expensive protein mixes in the frozen food aisle.
5. Stuffed Bell Peppers:
Many recipes for Stuffed Peppers like these Old World Peppers (they’re cooked in the microwave and super fast!) call for a little cooked rice, but any grain works just as well in the recipe. Why not take a shortcut?
7. Fritters or Cakes:
Add a little egg and binder and make Fritters; here’s a recipe from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook for Farro Cakes. Serve as a quick lunch along with a salad.
Add right into your frittatas or scrambled eggs.
Grains ARE cereal, after all. Reheat, sweeten with honey and serve with milk.
10. Goodness Balls:
- Mix with dried fruit and honey for goodness balls.