7 Ways to Use Up Leftover Pasta Sauce
You just whipped up an amazing penne with fresh tomato sauce and Parm, and while you've finished the pasta, you still have sauce left in the pan. Of course, you don't want to toss it out (what a waste!), but you also don't really know how to use it. Sure, you can dunk some sourdough or Italian bread in and eat as is, but there's got to be more creative ways to use it. So, what is there to do with leftover spaghetti sauce?
Of course "pasta sauce is a great way to elevate the flavor of a pasta dish, giving more of an emphasized essence to the bland-flavored noodle," says Top Chef alum Chef Fabio Viviani with DineAmic Group in Chicago, which has restaurants including Bar Siena and Siena Tavern. Sometimes pasta dishes do not require all the sauce that is made, so you get some extra sauce, he says. Save it to use another time. The use of pasta sauce can enhance your next meal to provide bolder flavors and more depth.
"Leftover pasta sauce can taste even better the second time around as time allows the spices and herbs to marinate and provide a more flavorful sauce," he says. And the even better news? "Pasta sauce can be used in other ways than with just pasta."
Read on for ideas about what you can do with extra tomato sauce, Alfredo, and more, from chefs happy to share their tips.
1. Use it in a vegetable casserole:
Chef Viviani loves making a pasta dish like truffle gnocchi with a creamy Alfredo sauce, which is served at Siena Tavern. If making a pasta dish at home and using Alfredo, he says the leftover sauce is great for repurposing into any kind of vegetable casserole. "Toss the Alfredo sauce with cooked broccoli or cauliflower and add it to a baking pan. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 30 minutes (or until they are cooked to your liking)," he says. It'll be creamy, rich, and delicious.
2. Make a potato gratin:
For white cream sauces, like Alfredo once again, Viviani says "to mix thinly sliced potatoes with sliced onions and the leftover Alfredo sauce. Then, add cheese to the potato dish and bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) until the potatoes are cooked through." This will make the cheesy potato dish taste super flavorful from the addition of sauce.
Try This: Kat's Alfredo Potatoes
3. Use the sauce as a dip:
Use leftover tomato-based sauce like a spicy arrabbiata or tangy puttanesca as a dip, which can be utilized with chips or vegetables. Viviani suggests taking the sauce and adding either chili flakes or sautéed chilies to add a little heat to the dip. Then, simply pour into a bowl and serve at any preferred temperature. You can then dunk anything in it, and you can even add more herbs and spices, too.
4. Make a soup:
"To make a traditional Italian papa Pomodoro soup, utilize the Pomodoro sauce as a tomato base and include it in a saute pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add in the desired seasonings and bread to complete the soup," says Viviani. It'll give some delicious tomato flavor, and it's a healthy soup to enjoy on a chilly night. You can also add some protein to it if you like.
Another method is to add cream in with the leftover sauce for a tomato soup, says Chef Chris Gawronski of Acanto, Beacon Tavern, and The Gage in Chicago. "In a bowl, heat up a quart of leftover tomato sauce along with one cup of chicken stock, one cup of cream, and two cups of diced tomatoes. Add it all together, bring to a boil, then serve," he says.
And you can also modify this soup with squash for chilly months. "For fall, my top way to use leftover pasta sauce would be to add roasted delicata squash, cream, and tomatoes to make a seasonal, hearty soup," says Gawronski. Heat the quart of tomato sauce with one cup of cream, one cup of chicken stock, and two cups of roasted squash. Stir together as it comes to a boil.
5. Serve over polenta:
Pasta sauce tastes great with fluffy grains, like polenta. "Another easy recipe is to use tomato sauce on polenta. Simply bake polenta in the oven, add a tablespoon of butter along with parmesan cheese, and top with sauce," says Gawronski. How easy is that?
6. Use as a bread topper or pizza sauce:
Leftover sauce naturally works well as a topping, like for bruschetta by adding it to toasted bread, or for pizza, says Gawronski. "Spread the cold sauce on top of a rolled-out 12-ounce dough ball (you can get this at Whole Foods or make your own). Top with buffalo mozzarella and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes at 475 degrees F (245 degrees C)," he says. You can even make a "kitchen sink" pizza by using other leftover odds and ends in your fridge, from the grilled chicken you made last night to the half green pepper that's been waiting for its next act.
7. Add it to other pasta dishes:
Flip the script a bit by using that pasta sauce as a filling inside more pasta, like ravioli. "Tomato sauce also can be used as a stuffing by putting it in along with mashed potato and Parmigiano cheese into ravioli," Gawronski says. Use two cups of leftover sauce plus two cups of mashed potato along with a handful of Parmigiano. Mix together to combine.
Next, add a few dollops of olive oil onto a baking sheet lined with pasta dough. Insert the balls of mixture onto the pasta dough, then top with another layer of pasta dough, and cut to make individual ravioli. Boil the ravioli for four minutes and then serve with a little bit of fresh olive oil and chopped sage, he recommends.