Casserole Magic for Leftover Pasta Dishes
Serves 4 with a large salad, 2-3 without
½ a recipe of leftover sauced pasta – use one that started with 1 pound of dried pasta, such as Linguine Carbonara, Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce (remove the clam shells), Pasta Bolognese, or Spaghetti with marinara.
Vegetables: 2 stalks broccoli, or ½ of a large head of cauliflower, or a dry pint of brussels sprouts
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray
½ of a large onion, sliced into thin half moons (you can skip this if you start with Carbonara)
¼ to ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock, or water
½ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano – and/or — ½ cup dry bread crumbs mixed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Set a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: for broccoli, trim the bottom of the stalks then cut the stalks off. Slice crosswise into 2-inch lengths and peel off the outside skin, then slice ¼ inch thick. Cut the florets into ¼ inch slices as well. For cauliflower, break into florets and slice ¼ inch thick. For brussels sprouts, trim off the bottom and then slice ¼ inch thick.
Combine the vegetable and the onion if you’re using it in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil, plus ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss to coat everything. Add another tablespoon of oil if you need it. Carefully take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, quickly spray it with nonstick spray, then pour the vegetables and onions on. You should hear a good sizzle when the vegetables hit the pan. Working quickly, spread the pieces out and put the sheet in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then stir everything up and roast for five more minutes if things aren’t getting a little browned. Remove the sheet and let the vegetables cool slightly, but keep the oven on.
Heat the pasta for 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave to loosen it up. (I leave it in the container it was stored in, although I don’t normally microwave in plastic this makes things easier and it’s not in there long.) Spray a 2-3 quart souffle dish with nonstick spray. Gently stir the vegetables and pasta together in a large bowl (or the souffle dish if it’s big enough) with ¼ cup of stock or water. The mixture should be moist. If not, add up to another ¼ cup of liquid. Pour into the greased baking dish. Top with the breadcrumbs and/or cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.