Tag Archives: pasta

Leftover linguine? Try a quesadilla

I hate – just HATE – throwing out leftovers.

It is such a waste. Food was not grown to be wasted. And there are simply too many hungry people in this country and in the world for any of us to be throwing out food.

There is plenty a person can do to best use the food you have. First, don’t let gluttony get the better of you. Exercise proper portion control and simply do not make more food than you reasonable want or need for a particular meal. That alone will help the obesity problem in this country.

Second, take a page from the environmental/conservation movement and recycle or reuse leftovers into another meal. As a child, I used to love it when we had spaghetti because there was always extra pasta. Usually, there wasn’t extra sauce, but plenty of noodles. The next day I’d take the pasta, add ketchup and dig in. I haven’t done that since my college days, but I always thought it was pretty tasted. And cold pizza leftover from the night before is a fine breakfast. Sort of.

So you have steamed veggies from the night before? Simply warm them in a pan before adding beaten eggs for a spin on scrambled eggs. Or come up with a lunchtime sandwich using something that was dinner the night before – chicken, roast, eggplant. Or combine leftovers from a couple of meals for a quick casserole or hash. All it takes is a touch of imagination.

Getting started

And if you need help coming up with ideas, there are plenty of websites out there with suggestions on how to recycle and reuse leftovers. I did a quick web search and found plenty right away:




That’s three links and good enough for a start. To be clear, I am not endorsing any of these sites, simply pointing out that they are out there and there should be plenty to get you started on avoiding wasting food.

Going too far?

I have to admit that I may have carried reused leftovers a little too far last night. It was early evening and I had not had anything to eat since I purchased a large cookie at the coffeehouse in the afternoon. The cookie was not sustaining me into the early evening so I peered into the frig and found very little – a jug of water, a carton of milk, tortillas, cheese, baby spinach and some leftover linguine mixed with a Trader Joe’s sausage sauce.

I closed the frig door, walked back into the living room, sat down, and took a sip from a can of Simpler Times lager. (Remember, I’ve been out of work since March so Simpler Times is what I can afford to drink. Get beyond it. I am.)

Within moments, I was back at the frig. I had to eat something and I was not about to head out to the store. I fished out the tortillas, cheese, baby spinach and the leftover pasta and placed the various items on the counter and stood back a moment, fists on hips.

“Well, what am I going to do?” (I sometimes talk to myself, usually not loud enough for anyone to hear. … Usually.)

“I suppose I could have a plain quesadilla.” (That’s me still talking to myself. It usually doesn’t get ugly unless I get in an argument with myself … and lose.)

“But I have the leftover pasta. But I don’t want to heat that up. And I am not in the mood for cold pasta. Hmm. What to do?” (Really, this is a process and we are getting near the end of it. Really.)

“OK, then, I could meld the cultures – linguine quesadilla.” (Trust me, I’m a much better conversationalist when I have someone with whom to, well, actually have a conversation. Other than myself, that is. … Really.)

International relations through food

I put a tortilla on a plate, put down a layer of pasta, sliced up cheese and layered that over the pasta. (I’ll use the baby spinach for something else.) I put a top tortilla and popped it in the microwave for about a minute and took it out and quartered it. The cheese had melted to form a bond between the ingredients and the tortillas, which made it much easier to eat than you might expect. And it was taster than you might expect, but I’m not convinced the Simipler Times didn’t help it go down.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you put your pasta in your quesadilla. I’m just saying that you can if you want to. Or you can come up with your own leftover quesadilla.

Pasta sauce for chilly winter’s day or any occasion

I don’t recall when or where I found the lasagna sauce recipe that eventually morphed into this pasta sauce, but it has been pretty popular with some of my friends. Enjoy!

Keith’s pasta sauce

  • 1 ½ lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces (Can use turkey or beef, but chicken seems to be the best.)
  • 1 medium red onion (Yellow or white onions are fine if that’s what you’ve got, but red onions are milder.)
  • 1-1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms (Chop them. Don’t be lazy and get them pre-chopped. Do not chop them too small, either. This is no thin, watery sauce. This is a chucky sauce.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (Get used to chopping, because there’s a bit of it.)
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, chopped (More chopping. I told you so.)
  • 1 can black olives, chopped (Get the chopped olives because these little guys are just too difficult to chop.)
  • 2 large cans of tomato sauce (It helps to open the cans as the olive oil is heating or sooner. Then you won’t have to mess with them at the same time you’re messing with browning chicken and throwing in other ingredients.)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1-1 ½ cups of red wine (For the sauce. Additional wine required by the cook is not accounted for in the recipe, but it does help to have a couple of glasses while the sauce is cooking. Use a wine you would drink, nothing too cheap.)
  • 1 table spoon of brown sugar (Helps cut the bitterness that comes with the wine.)
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed (More if you want.)
  • 3-4 bay leaves (Pick large leaves so you can find them afterward. You don’t want to leave them in the sauce.)
  • Olive oil

Chop everything ahead of time and open cans and wine bottle. Actually, opening the wine bottle should be the first order of business. Have a sip – or a glass – and only then get to work. Put olive oil in a large pot and heat. Throw in onions once the oil is hot and cook until translucent. Then brown chicken in the pot. Add mushrooms, zucchini, squash and seasoning, including garlic. Sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar and wine go in next. (Put sauce, etc., before the garlic gets too hot. You don’t want burned garlic.) Bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 1-1 ½ hours. Serve over pasta and with garlic bread.

Speaking of garlic bread …

Keith’s garlic bread

  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed (More if you want more.)

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add garlic. Warm thoroughly, but do not boil or burn. You do NOT want burned garlic or burned butter. Meanwhile, slice loaf in half lengthwise so that you have the heal and crown separated. (I find that you save hassles and burned fingers later if you lay the halves on their crusts and cross-cut the loaf halves every inch or so, but leaving a bit of the crust attached. This allows you to keep the pieces together, but makes tearing the loaf apart much easier later.) Once the butter is hot, pour into a cookie sheet and lay the loaf face-down in the garlic butter. Cover with a towel and let set while you do the pasta sauce. Turn bread over and broil bread once the sauce is finished and you are about to serve. Warning: I have burned more than a few loafs by broiling the bread. Watch it carefully and pull it out once it is a nice golden color.

Serve with steamed asparagus and lots of freshly grated cheese. Asago is my new favorite for anything Italian, but freshly grated parmesan also works very nicely.

Also, this recipe makes a fairly large quantity. You can freeze some of the extra, send it home with guests or simply invite enough people to finish it off.

Have fun.