This leftover spaghetti recipe is a quick and delicious way of dealing with leftover pasta. Fry it in the pan with a few more ingredients, a fool-proof dinner idea, perfect for the family.
What to do with leftover spaghetti? You can use them many ways, but one of the simplest and tastiest ones is to fry them with bacon, onions, and cheese. The result is a comforting and filling dish, a perfect family dinner meal.
Whenever I cook spaghetti or any other type of pasta, there are always leftovers. As they are often already mixed with the sauce, I pack them in my husband’s lunch box, and he will warm them up in the microwave at work.
But whenever they are not already mixed with anything, I make either this simple leftover spaghetti recipe or Fried Spaghetti. These are two of our favorite leftover recipes, and I really do cook them more often than you might think.
Why not? I hate throwing away food; I am always looking for good ideas for using up anything. Day-old cooked pasta is not particularly interesting; it’s kind of dry and dull.
Frying it in the pan with hearty ingredients like cheese and bacon will give it a new life. It will absorb the bacon drippings and the tomato juices; it will become plump and flavorful. And don’t forget the cheese! Melted cheese makes anything better!
What do you need?
- Cooked pasta keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days, so you will have plenty of time to cook it. You will not even have to complain about eating noodles two days in a row.
- You can cook this dish with any kind of pasta you have. I use spaghetti most of the time because my kids love them best, so that’s why I cook them more often than other sorts.
- The recipe is scaled for about 1 lb (450 g) cooked pasta, but you can scale it up and down to fit your requirements; it is very unlikely that you will ever have precisely 1 lb of cooked noodles.
- The other ingredients should be enough for roughly anything between 12 and 20 oz leftover pasta.
- If you don’t have leftovers, but you will still like to try this dish (it’s worth it!), cook 9 oz (250 g) pasta, drain it well, and leave to cool and dry slightly before frying.
- I have already cubed lean bacon most of the time, it saves me the chopping, and they tend to be leaner than sliced bacon.
- Regular bacon is just as fine, preferably thick-cut (easier to slice), but thin-cut is also ok.
- I love cherry tomatoes, but anything you have is fine. If using large tomatoes, chop them into small cubes.
- I have Cheddar or Gouda most of the time; they are tasty, good-melting sorts of cheese.
- However, choose whatever sort of good-melting cheese you like. Try Swiss, Provolone, Colby, Monterey Jack, or a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan. Feta is excellent as well, a completely different flavor.
- I don’t recommend using already grated cheese; the additives it contains will hinder it from melting nicely.
Other ingredients: onion, olive oil, butter, and dried oregano.
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How to fry spaghetti leftovers?
- Chop onion and bacon. Halve the cooked spaghetti and the cherry tomatoes, but keep them in separate bowls.
- Heat a large skillet (cast-iron or nonstick pan) on high heat. Add oil and butter and wait shortly until the butter foams.
- Cook the onions and the bacon on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, often stirring, until the onions are softer (1,2). Add the tomatoes and oregano to the pan (3). Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add noodles and stir well for about 4-5 minutes until they are heated through (4). Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, add some salt and pepper and stir well until the cheese melts; it will take another 2-3 minutes (5).
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper (6).
- Serve immediately.
Can I make the dish vegetarian?
Of course. Leave out the bacon and make sure that the cheese you are using is vegetarian (made with vegetarian and not animal rennet). All the veggies should be cooked in the pan together with the onions until they are soft.
My favorite substitute for bacon in this recipe is small zucchini cubes.
Other delicious vegetarian substitutes:
- Eggplants – make sure you fry them until they are really soft before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Bell peppers of any color
- Small broccoli florets
- Carrots – finely chopped
- Sliced mushrooms
- A combination of several veggies
Non-vegetarian substitutes for bacon:
- Canned tuna – well drained and flaked.
- Cooked chicken or other meat leftovers
- Chopped ham, salami, or other deli meats
- Chopped leftover meatballs
These ingredients should be added to the pan after the onions are soft, together with the tomatoes or the pasta. As they are already cooked, they only need some time to warm up in the skillet.
How to serve?
Serve with a salad with vinaigrette or yogurt dressing. Or with a vegetable salad, steamed, boiled, or roasted vegetables.
What to do with new leftovers?
Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container and reheat them again before serving. Do that in the microwave or on the stovetop. If reheating on the stovetop, add a little more oil or butter and maybe a splash of water while frying again.
More quick pasta dishes:
Quick Leftover Spaghetti Recipe
- Large skillet (cast-iron or nonstick pan)
- 1 lb spaghetti, cooked Notes 1, 2
- 1 onion medium
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter salted or unsalted
- 3 oz bacon lean, Notes 3,4
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes Note 5
- 1 teaspoon oregano Note 6
- 1 cup cheese grated, Note 7
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher, more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
- Chop the onion finely. Chop the bacon if necessary. Set aside
- Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet on high heat. Add oil and butter and let the butter foam gently.
- Add onions and bacon. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are softer.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes, add them to the pan together with the oregano. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the halved spaghetti and stir well for about 4-5 minutes until they are heated through.
- Add grated cheese, salt, and pepper and stir well for another 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- You can use any type of cooked pasta you have.
- If you don’t have leftovers, cook about 9 oz (250 g) pasta, drain well and let cool and dry slightly before frying.
- Already cubed bacon if available. Otherwise, chopped regular bacon.
- For a vegetarian dish, replace bacon with vegetable cubes like zucchini, eggplants, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli florets, carrots, etc. Cook the veggies together with the onions until soft. Add some garlic if desired.
- Or chopped regular-sized tomatoes. But cherry tomatoes have more flavor.
- For a spicier dish, add some red chili flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
- Cheddar or Gouda are my first choices, but any other type of good-melting cheese is fine. For example, try Swiss, Provolone, Colby, Monterey Jack, or a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan. Or Feta.