If you’re like a generous percentage of the world, then having pasta for dinner is a common occurrence in your home. As much as we like pasta, our eyes are often too big for our stomachs, so we tend to make more pasta than we could possibly eat in one sitting. No one likes to waste food, so leftover pasta typically gets put into the refrigerator instead of into the trash can. Unfortunately, most people who put leftover pasta in the refrigerator never give it a second glance. That is until they’re throwing it into the garbage can like they could’ve done in the first place. The biggest reason why people don’t finish their leftover pasta is because of how sticky and mushy pasta can be after it’s been put into the refrigerator. If you’re a pasta lover who’s tired of wasting perfectly good food, then keep reading to learn how long pasta is good for, how to keep it fresh for as long as possible, as well as, great ways to implement leftover pasta into other delicious meals for your family.
Storing Plain Pasta in the Fridge
First things first, as long as you follow these instructions and your pasta is properly stored, then the pasta should be good to eat for three to five days. Keeping the pasta in your refrigerator for any longer than that could cause bacteria and mold to grow, which obviously isn’t safe for consumption. With that being said, one of the best things you can do for yourself when it comes to leftover pasta is to make sure that it’s packaged up shortly after being made. Cooked pasta should never sit out for any longer than two hours if you don’t want the noodles to go bad, so make sure that it’s put into a container with a tight-fitting lid or a zip-lock bag as soon as possible.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll have no issues saving your favorite pasta for a second, or even third, scrumptious meal:
1. Place the leftover pasta into a container or zip-lock bag.
2. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil onto the pasta. You could also mix some butter into the pasta if it would go better with the meal that you’re going to use the leftovers for. The choice is up to you. Just keep in mind that the goal is to keep the pasta from sticking to each other, so make sure to put in enough oil or butter to keep the entire thing from sticking.
3. If the pasta is still warm, make sure that it’s cooled all the way down before closing the container. Of course, make sure that the container is completely sealed to avoid air coming into contact with the food, as well. This will prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
Storing Plain Pasta in the Freezer
If you made enough pasta for an army, then you may want to consider storing your leftover pasta in the freezer instead of in the refrigerator. Because of the thicker material that they’re made out of, freezer bags are always the best option when it comes to storing food in the freezer. Just as you did for the refrigerator, you’ll want to mix the pasta with some olive oil or butter before putting it into the freezer. Even though it’s going into the freezer, leftover pasta isn’t good forever, so make sure to write the date on the container before storing it. If put into the freezer, leftover pasta can be stored for three months, but if you want optimal freshness, then you should eat it within two months. Because pasta has high water content it’s at a higher risk of getting freezer burn if it’s left in the freezer for too long. Instead of heating up the pasta to thaw it, it’s best to allow the pasta to dethaw on its own in the refrigerator.
Storing Pasta with Sauce
If you have a sauce that you need to thaw with the pasta, you can choose to thaw them separately or mix them together before storing them. On the plus side, if you choose to store them separately then you have more flexibility when it comes to using them later on. Also, if you were to leave the pasta on the sauce then there’s a good chance that the pasta would become too mushy for you to want to eat. Of course, if you plan on eating it in a day or two, then storing them together wouldn’t be such a problem. Always make sure to use a tightly sealed container or a zip-lock bag with the air removed any time that you store food for later use.
Now that you have a general idea of how to store your leftover pasta, let’s take a look at a great recipe that calls for leftover pasta!
½ teaspoon cornmeal
1 16-ounce package of prepared pizza dough
1 ½ cups cooked spaghetti
¼ cup spaghetti sauce, or as much as you’d like for taste
6 cooked meatballs, chopped (this is to your taste)
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.
2. Roll the pizza dough on a floured workspace into a 9×12-inch rectangle.
3. Mix spaghetti with spaghetti sauce in a bowl until the pasta is coated with sauce.
4. Spread the pasta down the center of the rectangle. Make sure to leave about an inch at the top and an inch at the bottom of the dough uncovered.
5. Using meatballs, make a line down the center of the spaghetti.
6. Roll the dough over the filling, starting at one of the long edges.
7. Pinch the ends and seam together.
8. Transfer the roll to the baking sheet.
9. Bake until the crust is browned and the filling is hot. Approximately 20-25 minutes.
10. Brush the roll with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. It can be served hot or cold.
As you can see, there’s no need to waste any more leftover pasta. Just follow these simple instructions and look for a recipe that’s to die for, and you can say goodbye to forgotten pasta in the refrigerator!