As a chef, I LOVE fresh ingredients. I’d rather hit the farmers market over the mall any day. But as a mom, I love using leftovers… In this post, I’m going to show you how easy it is to take last nights leftovers and turn them into a whole new meal…
Kids are hungry. I have nothing “planned” for dinner and needed to whip up something fast. I had leftover ziti pasta and marinara sauce from the night before but I knew they wouldn’t go for that meal again. I tried, I did..
Kids: Mom, whats for dinner?
Me: hmm, how about pasta from last night?
Kids: We’re not in the mood for that.
What can I say? My family is spoiled. I can’t blame them, I personally am not a fan of leftover pasta. The textures change.. But I had a LOT of pasta leftover and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I love getting good deals and making something out of nothing.
So here goes…
Let me tell you a secret. I kind of play my own version of Food Network’s “Chopped” in my head. Except Ted Allen is not giving me a basket of ingredients like frog legs, cheese & twizzlers. I get to pick my own mystery basket ingredients. This round it is “leftover pasta” Which by the way, would be a great future mystery basket ingredients in Chopped – Have you seen Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown? You can bid for your competitor to use some of the less fresh ingredients, take away their utensils or cook with a microwave. Worst part, when they are judged.. The critic can only taste the food – No explanation of anything.. Just a straight up food tasting.. Cruel, just cruel. I would NEVER compete on that show. My anxiety levels go through the roof for these contestants, I almost need a xanaz to watch it. On one episode, They had to make a lobster sandwich and with 30 minutes left they bid on who has to make their bread from scratch. Bread in 30 min? Not happening. The contestant made a quick flatbread.. Genuis.. However the judge says “I just don’t understand why you chose flatbread instead of a roll” I know the guy was wanting to scream “because I couldn’t, My competitor took my rolls away and I had 30 min to make bread.”
So I play chopped at home and I used to do the same thing in the restaurant. Customers would say, What’s on the menu for tomorrow? I never knew until the next morning when I walked in to the market, looked at all the gorgeous produce and got inspired. Now in my kitchen, I don’t have this market full of produce for inspiration. I have leftover pasta,Hungry kids and time ticking away. So I look in the fridge. OK, I have eggs, ricotta cheese & some mozzarella. Fresh basil in the backyard and Viola it comes to me.. I can mix all these things up, coat them in panko and have a pasta burger.
You will either think this post is genius or insane. I say Genius.. Every single one was devoured with NO leftovers. It was a much better meal than the plain ziti pasta we had the night before.
To my leftover pasta, I added 1 cup ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella and a handful of fresh basil.. Mixed it all together. Used a cookie scoop to make semi-uniform shaped patties. Patted them out like a burger and coated in panko..
P.S. If you haven’t noticed.. I LOVE panko..
Lightly coat the skillet with olive oil and fry until brown on both sides. 3-4 min
You end up with this crunchy crispy goodness on the outside with a creamy melt in your mouth goodness in the middle.
You could really makes these look Elegant by drizzling some marinara sauce on a plate – Eat these on a burger , yes a super high carb meal, but who doesn’t love a spaghetti sandwich. That was not a joke. I was serious.
I named this the pasta “burger” because I really don’t like to use the word Patty. It reminds me to much of SpongeBob and with 6 kids, I have made more “crabby Patties” than I would like to admit. It’s kind of like the word “Casserole” – I really don’t like that word since my mother was the casserole queen with chicken surprise every night. I prefer to call them “Bakes” Much sexier than casserole.. Don’t you think?
- 4-6 cups Leftover Pasta
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
- 6 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs for coating
- Olive oil for frying
- Mix pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, breadcrumbs & basil. Using a cookie scoop form into balls. Pat out to a burger shape and coat in panko. Lightly coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil & fry 3-4 min until brown. Allow to drain on a paper towel.
I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have Panko & vegetable stock in the pantry and eggs & cheese in the fridge. You can make just about anything into a Leftover Makeover dish by adding egg and frying or baking in panko.. SERIOUSLY.. I’ve done this with soooo many leftovers..
Here are just a few other Leftover Makeover’s to inspire you:
Stale Cookies – Grind into crumbs in a food processor – mix with butter and use as a base for pies or cheesecake or use as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, Parfaits. Dip pretzels in chocolate & then in cookie crumbs.
Stale Brownies – Same as above or cut into mini squares & add to your favorite cookie recipe for a “Brownie Cookie”
Leftover Baked/Mashed or Roasted Potatoes? add vegetable or chicken stock, onion/leeks or Bacon, cheddar & scallions with some half & half or heavy cream for a quick delicious soup
Leftover Fruit Salad? add pineapple juice or coconut milk and/or yogurt for a chilled fruit soup or smoothie OR Blend fruit salad add egg, sugar & flour and bake into a fruit custard.
Leftover BBQ items? Baked Beans, Pulled Pork, Ribs, BBQ Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Baked Potato all taste fantastic in a soup together. Just add a can of tomatoes, chicken stock & BBQ sauce OR omit stock add cheddar cheese + eggs and pour into a casserole dish. Top with a corn muffin topping and bake.
Leftover Pot Roast – turning it into “Pot Roast Poppers” I will be sharing all these recipes on future blog post
Leftover Chicken? Layer ingredients between flour tortillas in a spingform pan and bake. Cut into wedges. Philly Cheesesteak Stack – Buffalo Chicken Stack – BBQ Stack – Fajita Stack
Leftover Chicken could be its own post – Depending on what type of chicken & how it was prepared you can make 100’s of dishes.
Chicken Salad – Buffalo Chicken Quiche – Chicken Quesadilla – Chicken Noodle Soup – Chicken & yellow rice – Chicken pot pie – Chicken & mushroom swiss bake – Chicken burgers – Chicken croquettes – Cheesy Chicken Bake
Using leftovers is the best way to save time & money in the kitchen. Wasting food is not an option in our house. Try using up some leftovers in a creative dish. Share your leftover makeover dishes or ideas in the comments, I would love to hear them.
Have leftovers and no idea what to do with it? EMAIL me – I would be happy to help.