Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leftover Tuesday: Baked Spaghetti

If you were with us last Friday, you may have noticed that, in a sad bid for attention, I have taken to criticizing shows I've never actually seen, and proposing what I consider better ideas on this blog. Next thing you know, I'll be showing up on reality TV. Or worse--vicious ads for potential Republican nominees. But for now, we'll just stick to this blog. And we'll begin doing Leftover Tuesdays because, frankly, I think they're a fabulous idea. Leftovers are cheap, easy, practical, environmentally friendly. Oh yeah, and potentially quite tasty too.

For Leftover Tuesday we'll be showcasing some of the less-than-perfectly appetizing leftovers hanging out in my fridge and making something (hopefully) lovely and respectable and delicious out of them. See, it really is like reality TV (minus the backstabbing). Only it's like reality TV meets the food channel and then gets a nip and a tuck. Wow, what more could you ask for? Except some vicious political advertisements of course.

Meet the stars of our show today.

Leftover spaghetti sauce:

Leftover spaghetti:

Which actually came out in a gelatinous mound when removed from its container.

It's spaghetti...It's modern art...It's Leftover Tuesday.

An assortment of cheeses--some from the freezer and one from the fridge (on Sunday when I made this, I used mozzarella and Parmesan, but I forgot to take a picture, so you're seeing what I'd use if I made this tonight, which I might):


A few slices of frozen bacon:

I also used a can of olives that I had in the pantry, though you wouldn't have to.

How'd I Make It?

I cooked the bacon good and crispy. Then I drained it and chopped it small. While it was cooking, I mixed the spaghetti sauce with about 1/2 C cream. I added the bacon and some chopped olives to this sauce. Then I mixed the sauce with the spaghetti and spread it out in a 9x13 inch pan (you could easily use a smaller pan if you had less leftovers than we did). I topped it with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (I had about 1 or 1 1/2 C of mozzarella and a few Tbsp of Parmesan). I baked it until it was good and bubbly at the sides and the cheeses were melted and just beginning to brown.

We served it with a salad made from the rest of the olives, 1 carrot, 1 1/2 head of Romaine lettuce and some spinach. And a friend brought over some bread, which we sliced and spread with butter and garlic for a quick garlic bread. Done and done.

How'd it turn out?

Very well. Which is a good thing. Because--oh boy, here's a confession for you--we fed it to friends. Good friends. Friends I invited to dinner on a whim on Sunday. Friends who have 5 kids. Dinner was set for 1 hour after church ended. I needed speed. I needed volume. And kid-friendly-ness. And good-tasting-ness. This delivered all of that.

What could have been better? 

The spaghetti was a bit overcooked the first time around. Had we kept it al dente as good spaghetti ought to be, it would have been better in our leftovers. As it was, it was a little mushy for my tastes, though Kip said he prefers it that way (proving once and for all that, when it comes to food, he is actually a four-year-old stuck in a man's handsome body).

What else could have been used to good effect in this dish?

A lot of stuff.

You NEED some kind of pasta and some kind of sauce and some kind of cheese.

You could have used a variety of cheeses: ricotta, feta, mozzarella, cheddar, jack, whatever you had really.

You could have used a variety of meats or none at all. I used bacon because it was ALL I had. It worked nicely, but chicken, hamburger, sausage, even pepperoni would have worked well too.

We used olives from the pantry to jazz it up a bit. Other vegetables that would have been good include peppers, onions, carrots, spinach, even capers.

A creamy something is nice in baked spaghetti. We had some open cream and thus used that in the sauce. But you could have used cream cheese mixed into the sauce (I often find myself with a couple random ounces leftover from making something else). You also could have topped the spaghetti (before adding the cheese) with can-of-something-or-other soup or a basic white sauce seasoned with pepper or whatever for added creaminess. Or you could have done without added creaminess all together.

You also could have sprinkled the top with bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or potato chip crumbs.

It's versatile. It's fun. It's incredibly sexy (maybe) while still being kid-friendly (maybe). It's Leftover Tuesday.


  1. Mmmmm ... Looks YUMMY! Of course, I've never met a spaghetti I didn't like LOL. I think its Tuesday leftovers for me tonight too. We'll see what I come up with. The other night I did make some BBQ pork hot pockets using dough I had in the fridge and leftover BBQ pork. I put them in the freezer for easy lunches on the run. So far, they're a hit!

    I'll definitely try adding cream or cream cheese (I also have lots of little bits of that in my fridge) to leftover sauce. Sounds delish!

    We have a local restaurant that offers "The Big Easy" which is some kind of spicy sauce with cream, italian sausage, shrimp, peppers, and pasta. Sounds similar to what you made.

    Thanks! I love these posts! I especially love seeing pictures of the "real food" as it leaves the frige and becomes something wonderful. How fun!

    1. Thanks, Gina. It was a really fun post to do. And just the nature of posting it gets me thinking creatively about what I might do with something I might have thrown out.

  2. Following your lead, I made dinner from leftovers last night. I posted about it (and your original post) on my blog: www.athomemyway.blogspot.com. Thanks for the inspiration! Actually, I figure it was a free meal since I made supper with the stuff that might have gotten thrown away. Coooolll!!! Thanks again!

  3. Jeanie, I thought I'd love this series when you mentioned it...and I do. Surprise, surprise.

    Still reading every post, and still laughing out loud. You're the best!


  4. I was so glad to find this recipe! Baking for a church brunch. Love your pictures and your critique and suggestions afterward. Thanks.

    I added some tomatoes from my husband's garden and the lumps of cream cheese!



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