Top 5 Things to Make with Leftover Spaghetti

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It happens to the best of us. We boil a pot of spaghetti, stew a pot of tomato sauce, eat, refrigerate, heat and eat again.

Even though I prefer only a spoonful of sauce to my gigantic mound of pasta, everyone else I feed likes to drown their stuff in sauce. This means I always end up with that notorious Tupperware container full of leftover spaghetti noodles. I admit to having thrown away many servings of perfectly fine spaghetti, and each time, a mini version of my mother appears on my shoulder and wags her finger at me.

My conscience (and my mini-mother) got the better of me, and now I've come up with a repertoire of things to do with leftover spaghetti. Tuck these Top 5 tips away in your noodle (like how I formed that pun?), and not only will you reduce waste, you'll never go hungry again.

5. Toss with butter or olive oil and sprinkle with herbs.

Dried herbs and butter or olive oil are usually pantry staples, so why not whip up something quick, easy, and delicious? Reheat the spaghetti in a pot or microwave, toss with melted butter and basil, oregano, or parsley Extra points if you've got fresh herbs. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top for a simple vegetarian pasta dish. Or throw in some bacon, chicken, or shrimp for more protein.

4. Stir-fry noodles with garlic, egg, and soy sauce.

Last night, you had Italian. Tonight, you can have Chinese. Mince a garlic clove and using a wok, saute the garlic in a tablespoon or two of oil. Add the leftover spaghetti and stir-fry to heat thoroughly. Toss with soy sauce and chili pepper flakes to taste. Add a scrambled egg for protein.

3. Bake a spaghetti casserole.

Dress your spaghetti up in a new outfit: make spaghetti casserole. Toss the leftover spaghetti in egg, parmesan cheese, and butter. Spread half the spaghetti mixture at the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese, ground beef, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese over the first layer. Then repeat with the rest of the spaghetti, meat, sauce, and cheeses. Cover and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and slightly browned. The nice thing about this dish is, like with many casseroles, it can be frozen and baked another night for a no-fuss dinner.

2. Make pan-fried noodles.

Another Chinese favorite is pan-fried noodles. Make sure to heat the oil (use peanut oil for best results) to high heat (about 385°F), and don't overcrowd the pan with the noodles. Fry in multiple small batches if necessary; this will prevent your noodles from becoming a greasy, soggy mess. For the vegetable topping and sauce, try Shirley Fong's recipe which was featured on "Good Morning America." Add assorted meats like slices of round eye steak, pork loin, chicken, or shrimp for added protein.

1. Make garlic noodles.

Ever since my visit to San Francisco's Thanh Long, I've been dreaming about their famous roasted crab and garlic noodles. While not all of our budgets can afford Dungeness crab for everyday dinners, we can afford the ingredients for garlic noodles. Here is a copycat recipe of Thanh Long's garlic noodles along with a recipe for roasted crab, too, in the case you get your holiday bonus and want to splurge. Not in the mood for crab? Serve these tasty noodles with salt-and-pepper prawns or even just by themselves. Who needs food from the Bay when we can do it ourselves?

Got additional ideas for getting rid of that pesky leftover spaghetti? Leave them in the comments section.

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