The Simple Tip For Reheating Leftover Pasta Dishes In The Microwave

There's no comfort meal quite like a hearty bowl of pasta. Combining rich sauce with noodles — no matter their shape — is a great dinner route to take. But if you're only cooking for yourself (or a small number of people), don't think you should cut down your sauce recipe. Whether you're taking the quick-and-easy route with jarred sauce or simmering a sauce you made from scratch for hours on end, it's best to make a larger batch to enjoy in the days to come. But this extra sauce will also come in handy when you go to reheat your leftover pasta.

Pasta sauces, especially tomato-based ones, fare well when frozen or stored in the refrigerator. So, if you keep a bit of your prepared sauce on the side stored in a separate container, you can add some of it to the leftover pasta before putting it in the microwave. Any dried-out bits of pasta will be readily revived by the extra sauce, making for a more moist, appetizing texture so it can taste almost as fresh as when you made it on day one. And if you want to get fancy, you can even add a new ingredient to revive the leftover sauce.

Tips for reheating pasta in the microwave

Storing cooked pasta and sauce together in the same container can result in a clumpy, cold mess when you go to reheat and enjoy it the next day. However, if you're pressed for time and know that having already-cooked pasta on hand is the quickest path to leftovers, there are a few storage tips you can follow for having great-tasting leftover pasta with your sauce. First of all, store the sauce and pasta separately, coating the pasta in a bit of oil to prevent sticking.

This trick of adding a little extra sauce applies whether you're reheating a simple bowl of pasta and sauce or baked pasta dishes like stuffed shells or lasagna. Reheat the pasta dish in individual, single-serve portions for the best result, making sure to cover the dish so the sauce doesn't splatter all over the microwave. Start by heating the pasta for about one minute. Stir it so the extra splash of leftover sauce evenly coats the pasta and the dish can evenly heat up. Then, heat it again in 15-second increments until it's as hot as you'd like. 

The power of pasta water in storing and serving pasta

Don't underestimate the power of the starchy pot of water you used to cook your pasta originally. Using just a spoonful of pasta water at a time can thin out your leftover sauce to form a not-too-clumpy, not-too-watery texture, especially if the contents of the sauce have separated during refrigeration. Start with a little at a time and add more until you reach your desired texture.

Using a dash of starchy leftover pasta water before storing and reheating your pasta can also make a huge difference. That water can help restore some of those starches to your pasta, making it easier for the extra sauce to cling to it, creating the ideal sauce-coated spaghetti slurp with each bite. And if you've upgraded your spaghetti sauce with additional ingredients like parmesan cheese or a pat of butter, that splash of starchy pasta water is necessary to help emulsify these ingredients. As long as you properly store and reheat it, you certainly won't regret making a bit of extra sauce to revive your leftover pasta dish in the microwave.