This post first appeared in Fiterazzi Magazine!
A styrofoam box with beads of condensation clinging to the lid. Half a burrito haphazardly wrapped in foil. Yesterday’s pasta getting a little dry around the edges.
Not the most appetizing prospect, is it?
I have always had trouble with leftovers. When I push my plate away from me, I truly believe I’ll want the rest of it later. But when it comes time to eat yesterday’s food, it smells funny, looks weird, and something fresher always sounds better.
But this year, one of my resolutions was to stop wasting food. No more tossing out that last half serving of rice or waiting too long to finish off the last third of hummus. “Operation: Leftovers” commenced.
Pretty quickly, I figured out my biggest leftovers problem. When I open a container of leftovers, this is what I see: a sad shadow of what the food once was. The crispy potato can never be as crispy as it was. The risotto can never get back that delicious al dente bite it had. The broccoli never looks quite as vibrant as it did on my plate last night.
To make the most of leftovers, I learned, you have to see them as something new. That leftover side of beans? Nuh-uh. Use it to make a single serving of hummus. Steamed rice from two nights ago? Say hello to fried rice for one. And that pasta from dinner last night?
Well that’s a tough one.
It’s hard to revive pasta…because pasta is…hard. Or, at least, it gets hard. When cooked pasta sits in the fridge, the moisture vanishes faster than you can say “fettuccine.” To bring it back to life, sometimes a flash in the pan will do, but more often than not, it needs liquid, and stat.
My solution? Soup.
Toss leftover pasta in with some fresh veggies, and you’ve got a meal. A healthy meal. Vegetable broth, hearty beans, sweet carrots, and a squeeze of fresh lemon make this soup nourishing and refreshing, while the starchy shells make it satisfying.
The next time you think about tossing that last bit of noodles, think again. It could be the secret ingredient that takes your lunch routine up a notch. And bonus! Thanks to the pasta you used from yesterday, this vegetable noodle soup comes together in 10 minutes flat.
That’s what you call a leftovers hack. Mission accomplished.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots (about 1 cup), peeled and sliced in ½-inch rounds
- 2 cups leftover pasta (I used shells with mushrooms + Swiss chard tossed in garlic oil)
- 1 cup cooked white beans
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Heat olive oil to medium heat and add the carrots. Sauté 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes to soften carrots.
- Add leftover pasta and navy beans and return to a simmer.
- Divide into 2 bowls and top each serving with ½ the parsley and lemon juice.
- Serve with salt and pepper, to taste.
The Waco Vegan is no longer updated. You can find me over at RandleBrowning.com instead.