The Cheap-Ass Gourmet: (Re)using Your Noodle
One of the most annoying things about working outside the home (aside from bad bosses and that guy in the next cubicle eating carrots with his mouth open) is stumbling in the door after a long day and trying to figure out what the heck to make for dinner.
Making stuff in advance and then dining on leftovers for a few days is ideal, of course (whereas dining on a litre of Ben & Jerry’s is NOT), and one of my favourite things (especially because I do a lot of exercise) is pasta. Mmmmmmmmm…carbs.
However, reheated pasta generally has the delicate mouth-feel of pencil erasers. What’s a girl to do?
Well, after a whole lot of trial and error, I discovered that you do this.
First, hit the dollar store and invest a buck in one of those plastic microwave covers. (Yeah, I know, people are having thrombos about cooking stuff in plastic. If you’re nervous, use a plate instead. Me, I figure we’ve all got to go sometime, and with luck I’ll go eating delicious reheated pasta!)
Next, invest in a smallish microwaveable glass dish. Many of the larger grocery chains sell them, as well as places like Kitchen Stuff Plus. I got a nice set of ceramic bowls dirt-cheap at an Asian grocery, actually, with a pleasing Happy Kitty motif.
Finally, store your plain cooked pasta and your sauce separately — otherwise you get reheated mush, and that’s what we want to avoid at all costs.
OK, let’s recap: plastic cover thingy, ceramic or glass dishes, separate containers of plain pasta & sauce.
All righty then. Now that you are armed and ready (I am presuming, of course, that you own a microwave… if you do not, stop reading here unless you wish to be jealous of the noodly goodness I am about to describe)… anyway, now that you are set, simply do the following.
a) Put about a cup of sauce in a microwaveable cup — a coffee cup is ideal, but I actually use a glass (Pyrex) measuring cup. Cover the cup with a little plate or your Plastic Cover of Handiness, and nuke it on low for a couple of minutes.
b) Meanwhile, place a clump of plain pasta in your glass dish — you may need to wet your hands with water and fish around in the pasta a bit to separate it. Pasta is VERY sticky and will resist its fate like crazy.
c) Once you have a nice serving-size clump of pasta captured in your dish, add a couple of tablespoons of water to it. Yup, just right out of the tap. I push the pasta aside (I really am unkind to my pasta sometimes! Tsk…) and make sure there’s a nice little puddle of water at the bottom of that dish.
d) Remove the heated sauce from the microwave & set it aside. Now put the dish of pasta in, cover it with your Plastic Cover Thingy or plate (do NOT use the rubber seal-lined lid that comes with those dishes!) and nuke that for about 2 minutes on medium or high (depending on how powerful your microwave is).
e) Remove heated pasta from microwave and uncover it carefully or you will get the steam-scald of your life. Because what we’ve done here, ladies and germs, is STEAM that leftover pasta, meaning it maintains its structural integrity and is just the way you made it fresh the night before.
f) Transfer your hot pasta into your serving bowl using a couple of forks, just like you do when it’s freshly cooked (if you just dump it in, you dump the dregs of water in too… gross!) Slather in the heated sauce & whatever toppings you like (I am partial to a wee bit of Parmesan cheese, steamed broccoli, and a couple of PC “Memories of Kobe” meatballs** myself), and devour.
Seriously, what could be simpler?
**Just to be clear, no, I don’t work for Loblaws/President’s Choice. I just shop there a lot because it’s nearby & their stuff is good. Just to even things up, though, I have to say that their PC “oat rings” (generic Cheerios) suck pretty bad. There. Believe me now?