Give Leftovers a Pasta Fix

Give Leftovers a Pasta Fix

 Jazz up leftovers into delicious second meals. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to stretch a food budget is to use leftovers. With a little imagination, you can create entirely new dishes that no one will ever suspect are mere leftovers.

Just Add Pasta

One of the best ways to increase the quantity of leftovers is to add other ingredients. Pasta is a fantastic addition to many leftovers.

Chicken Leftover Pasta Meals

First, select type of pasta, either an angel hair or spaghetti pasta If you have leftover chicken, try this easy recipe:

  • Cube the leftover chicken and set aside while preparing pasta.
  • 12 – 16 oz Pasta or appropriate amount for your family, cook according to box instructions.
  • Reheat chicken leftovers either in the oven or microwave.
Ingredients for Oil Mixture*
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley (freshly chopped)
  • 5 Garlic cloves (minced or chopped)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)


While the pasta cooks, take out a medium sized sauce pan, add olive oil, parsley and garlic. Sauté over low heat stirring occasionally to ensure it’s blended.

  • Once pasta is cooked, drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Add reheated chicken and oil mixture. Mix well so oil coats pasta and chicken.
  • Add grated Parmesan cheese and mix into pasta/chicken mixture.

You may want to place additional grated Parmesan cheese in a bowl on the table for those who wish to top off their serving.

*You can substitute the oil mixture with pesto is you prefer.

Penne Cajun Shrimp

If you find yourself with leftover shrimp or other seafood, but not quite enough to go around, you can still use it for a family meal by adding pasta and few ingredients to transform into a wonderful Cajun dish.


  • 12 or 16 oz Penne pasta (adjust for number of family members)
  • Leftover shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 Tsp Black pepper (ground)
  • 1/4 Tsp Sea salt
  • 2-3 Tbs Old Bay seasoning (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 Tbs Louisiana Hot Sauce or similar (add more if prefer greater heat)
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 Cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs All-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun Seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)


Cook Penne pasta according to box directions. While pasta is cooking, over medium heat melt butter in a large skillet and add olive oil, chopped onion and minced garlic until onions become translucent. Don’t allow the garlic to brown or it will be bitter tasting.

Add pepper, salt, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well until ingredients are thoroughly blended.

In a bowl, whisk flour into half and half or cream. Whisk until blended.

Slowly add the milk mixture into the skillet mixture, whisking until thoroughly blended and the mixture thickens. Add Cajun seasoning and tomatoes, use a large wooden spoon to stir mixture until all ingredients are blended.

Reheat shrimp in microwave. Remove pasta from burner and drain. Transfer pasta into a large serving bowl, add skillet mixture and shrimp. Mix well and serve.

Create Your Own Pasta Dish

There are many choices that can be used with various types of leftovers. You may simply choose to create a vegetable pasta by mixing with your favorite Italian dressing. Cold or hot pasta dishes are ideal ways to extend your budget for delicious leftovers.

photos: PrayitnoAlpha and Ruth Hartnup


AuthorSally Painter

"Everyone can have a beautiful home decor. It just takes a little creativity," says author and freelance writer Sally Painter. This former commercial and residential designer is also a Feng Shui practitioner and believes that, "Everything you choose to put in your home should resonate with you emotionally. If it doesn't - get rid of it!"