leftover rice or pasta

how do you use up leftover rice or pasta? especially when they're either dried out or sort of mushy.

Caroline Lange


Tasha September 14, 2015
My pasta leftovers is mixed with the tomato sauce. Can I still make a frittata with it?
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 14, 2015
Bevi September 14, 2015
Yes, you can. What I recently did was heat a few TBS of olive oil in a frying pan, and added about half of the lightly sauced pasta I had on hand, then, I grated parmesan cheese on top, leaving about a 1-inch edge. Then I added the second half of pasta and pressed down on the whole thing with the back of my spatula. After about 7 minutes, I carefully flipped that pancake, and let if fry up on the second side. To get out of the pan, I carefully slid the spatula underneath the whole pancake. Then, I placed a serving plate over the pan, and quickly inverted it. Gorgeous! The pancake popped right out. It was crispy and delicious.
amysarah September 14, 2015
Marcella Hazan has a couple of frittata recipes with pasta in 'Essentials of...' and she specifically mentions that pasta with tomato sauce, and pretty much any sauce besides shellfish, works well in a frittata. I've improvised with lots of them - never had a dud yet!
sonya August 22, 2015
The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking has a pancake recipe that uses leftover brown rice (I'm sure you can use leftover white rice, too). They were pretty good! There's also a Risotto Cakes recipe that uses leftover risotto rice, from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. And I recall several Asian recipes in Cook's Illustrated calling for leftover sort-of dried out rice, including their recipe for Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng) (delicious!). Pasta, I've no clue!
Susan W. August 20, 2015
I've been hooked on this for breakfast for about a month now. I microwave my rice for one minute and top it with two over easy eggs and sprinkle with soy, gochugaru and homemade chili garlic ginger oil. I think the key to rice that doesn't get mushy is to rinse it well before cooking. I also toast the rice in oil or ghee before adding 1.25 cups of water per cup of plain white rice. It's never mushy even when reheated.
Riddley G. August 20, 2015
++++spaghetti frittata! For leftover rice, make a rice pudding of sorts! Combine rice, milk/some cream (or coconut milk) and whatever else you like in rice pudding and simmer till the rice absorbs the milk a little and thickens.
AntoniaJames August 14, 2015
I also use it in this bread: https://food52.com/recipes/10662-savory-cooked-rice-sandwich-bread The rice adds texture and flavor.

Please don't forget that rice can be frozen; if your rice is dry to start with, you can freshen it up a bit by sprinkling a teaspoon or two of water on it, and then microwaving on medium heat, covered, for about 45 seconds.

I often make a double batch and freeze half because it's so handy to have it on hand.

My favorite way to use cooked rice - and both dry and mushy rice work just fine for this -- is to make one of the meals I've made most often over the 30+ years I've been making dinner every night. It's a Julie Sahni recipe for a "pilaf" that's not truly a pilaf, but turns out like one and comes together quickly on a weeknight. Here's my adaptation:

Lightly brown a good handful of raw cashews in some ghee or oil in a large skillet. Remove as soon as some of them have turned a rich brown hue.

Dice a medium onion and add to the same skillet. Saute until translucent. Add 3 cloves garlic, chopped, along with a cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces, 2 bay leaves and a good shaking of ground cumin (or a good pinch of whole cumin seeds) and a good pinch of salt. Stir to coat the aromatics with the cumin over medium heat. Add about a cup of water and simmer until the water is reduced but not all evaporated.

Meanwhile peel and chop the stems from 2-3 broccoli stalks Cut the tops into florets. When the water in the skillet is reduced, add the broccoli stalks and cover; I also chop up the stems from the cilantro leaves I'll add later and add them here.

Cook for about a minute over medium heat; add the broccoli tops and cover and cook for another 2 minutes, adding water if the onions are dry.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups of cooked rice and cook to heat through. Stir in the cashews and a couple tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves.

I serve this with dal.
AntoniaJames August 14, 2015
I also enjoy leftover rice (especially Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley, as well as brown rice, any kind, and wild rice) for breakfast. Start with about 1/4 cup, or a couple tablespoons; stir in 2-3 tablespoons of ground flax seed, about 1/3 cup of vanilla almond milk. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then top with chopped fresh fruit and, occasionally, chopped toasted nuts. It's good cold in the summer, though you should let it sit for a few minutes, while making coffee, for example, to let the rice and flax seed soak up the almond milk. Here's the "not recipe" recipe I posted some time ago: https://food52.com/recipes/31933-no-recipe-quick-breakfast-porridge-aka-fridge-forage-porridge
Also delicious made with leftover quinoa or freekeh or barley . . . . or a combination of any of them . . . or leftover steel cut oats or nine-grain hot cereal: https://instagram.com/p/voTyPVmB_5/
https://instagram.com/p/5k7LqmGB1z/?taken-by=howmothercooks ;o)
Windischgirl August 14, 2015
I eat leftover rice like oatmeal--add milk and reheat, then top with fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Fried rice, of course--great way to use leftovers and clean out the crisper.
My daughter made tabouli this week with the leftover rice...well, she thought it was bulgur...it tasted fine!
We panfry leftover pasta to form a large cake, brown and crisp on both sides, and cut into wedges to serve as the starch for a dish with a sauce...some saucy stir fries go well with that. If the pasta doesn't hold together, it's still tasty...we all love the crunchy brown bits that form.
boulangere August 14, 2015
That fried pasta cake sounds delicious
Kristen W. August 14, 2015
You could also mix the rice with sautéed veg and/or ground meat or sausage and use it to stuff peppers or zucchini, or anything you want to stuff, really.
klrcon August 13, 2015
Somehow I never have leftover pasta but the frittata idea also works well with rice. The traditional way to do it would be to sauté onion, garlic and greens, add your beaten egg and a little cheese and the rice and then make your frittata. But I do it all the time with lots of other leftovers as well. Good luck!
AntoniaJames August 13, 2015
This Marian Bull dish, but I use half the cheese called for (or less) and twice the "greens" - adding extra fresh herbs and kale or chard that's already cooked and squeezed almost dry, and coarsely chopped. Make it. https://food52.com/recipes/28027-green-rice

boulangere August 13, 2015
I love cold pasta, so regardless of what it was and how I served it originally, i'm fond of chopping it up to grace a lunch salad with it. I'll even deliberately make extra for that very reason. Whenever I make rice, I routinely prepare twice as much as I need. I freeze serving sizes of the remains in ziplock bags so on a late night home, I can pull a rabbit out of the hat easily. I freeze black means the same way. I always have corn tortillas on hand. Some beans, some rice thawed, stacked on a tortilla toasted under the broiler, a poached or two perched on top, some salsa or Cholula, an avocado on the side if I have one........a pretty divine way to end a long day. And all of one pan to wash.
boulangere August 13, 2015
Please make that a poached EGG perched on top
HalfPint August 13, 2015
With leftover pasta, like spaghetti, I make a 'pie' by combining the pasta with beaten eggs, some grated parmesan, and salt/pepper. Fry it like a frittata with a generous amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cut into wedges and serve. You can add-in whatever else you have leftover. Serve warm for breakfast or lunch.

If you are tired or don't like fried rice, add leftover rice to soups and stews. When the rice has dried out, steam it to rehydrate. The Vietnamese call it broken rice (which is cooked rice that has been purposely dried out, then steamed) and serve it with an assort of grilled meats. It's called Com Tam and there are restaurants that specialize in it.
amysarah August 13, 2015
I often use leftover pasta for a frittata(ish) pie as well. Remnants of vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, etc.) get quickly sauteed and thrown in as well. In fact, sometimes I intentionally make more pasta than we need, for leftovers to turn into a quick dinner pie the next night, with a salad.
ChefJune August 14, 2015
Frittatas are a great way to use leftover pasta. Might depend upon the topping you'vve used, but most convert well.
QueenSashy August 13, 2015
With rice you could make arancini or suppli (Italian rice croquettes). Just rewarm the rice with a little bit of soup or milk, so that it is creamy, and add grated cheese or cubes of mozzarella and egg, then grab a handful of rice with wet hands and form little balls. Dip the suppli in beaten egg, and then in breadcrumbs and deep fry until golden brown. (If you are really decadent, you can enrich your suppli with tomato, sauteed onions, mushrooms, even bacon.)
702551 August 13, 2015
Fried rice is a popular way of using up leftover rice for a few billion people on this planet.

As for pasta or any other noodle product, the centuries-old peasant way to deal with this has been putting it in soup. Just look in any old Italian cookbook for recipes with the title/phrase "in brodo,"

I don't think pasta by itself reheats particularly well. Some restaurants will par-cook their pasta, then finish it to order, but I don't think that's what you are asking about.

In more recent times with refrigeration, pasta and rice salads have been a way for modern consumers to deal with some leftovers.

Of course, leftover rice and other grains have made it into soup for millennia. Same with leftover potatoes even stale bread (pancotto).

Here's a Food52 recipe of pancotto, the classic peasant bread soup: https://food52.com/blog/12144-italian-bread-soup-pancotto
702551 August 13, 2015
It's worth adding that any culture that consumes rice also has rice soup dishes. The Japanese have so many of them, they give them different names like chazuke, zosui or ojiya. Congee is just one similar Chinese preparation.

In Italy, leftover cooked pasta is less commonplace since they traditionally cook small portions that are intended to be immediately and entirely consumed. They don't cook it like Americans (pounds and pounds of spaghetti heaped on a huge platter).

What Italians (and many others) do is to not cook pasta that won't be consumed immediately. In the old days, you'd just dry it out and store for future cooking (like in soups, brodos). Today, with the convenience of refrigeration, you can store uncooked pasta in the fridge or freezer.

Ultimately, that's the best way of handling fresh noodles: just cook what you are going to eat right away. If you have more fresh noodles than you can eat at one sitting, don't cook all of it.
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