I constantly find myself with leftover fresh veggies. Sometimes a recipe just calls for two green onions or one carrot, but you have to buy more than that at the supermarket. Sometimes we buy fresh veggies for a recipe and end up not making it for whatever reason. If this has ever happened to you, though, you know those leftover veggies aren’t good for very long. Before you know it, you have a brown, gooey mess at the bottom of your crisper and you’re muttering curse words under your breath because fresh veggies aren’t cheap, and you HATE wasting food.
Making fresh veggies into side dishes is all well and good, but sometimes you just don’t want to eat veggies by themselves or with a little seasoning. Sometimes you want to hide your veggies in some pasta and make yourself feel good knowing you ate them without having to eat just them.
Behold: Two great ways to use those leftover veggies before they go bad.
The first way is a pasta fake-bake inspired by Rachel Ray. Rachel Ray does a ton of these fake-bake pastas that are actually really cool. It gives you the flavor and crunch of a baked pasta dish, but you don’t actually have to bake it for all that long.
Leftover Veggie and Pasta Fake-Bake
- 1 pound short pasta (penne, rigatoni, cavatelli… whatever you want)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- onions (red, white, green… whatever you’ve got!)
- 3 garlic cloves (I really like garlic, but you can reduce this to taste if you want) (Also, I use prepackaged, minced garlic. That’s about three good spoonfuls.)
- leftover veggies, chopped coarsely
- black pepper
- juice and zest of one lemon
- fresh or dried thyme (I used fresh, but dried gives you the same idea)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
Sorry I don’t have all the measurements for the ingredients. It all sort of depends on what veggies you use and how long it takes for them to cook to their desired tenderness.
Veggies I used: green onions, garlic, red onions, fresh broccoli, fresh green pepper, fresh mushrooms, frozen peas.
Cook the pasta as directed. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water before draining.
Preheat the broiler.
Chop and slice your veggies to their desired thickness. It works best if you chop all the veggies to about the same size.
Coat the bottom of a large pan with the olive oil. Add the tablespoon of butter. Heat the oil and butter. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. If you’re using broccoli, add that and let it cook for a bit first. Broccoli takes longer to cook than most vegetables, so give it a head start before you add the rest, and be sure to keep stirring the veggies around in the oil to be sure they cook evenly and don’t burn.
Add the rest of the veggies and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until cooked but still firm.
Remove the veggies from the heat. Season with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir it all together to be sure it is evenly seasoned.
Add the drained pasta, reserved cooking water, and the ricotta cheese to the skillet with the veggies. Toss it to combine and add a little more salt and pepper (and more seasoning if you wish).
Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the skillet. Put the whole skillet under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until browned.
The second way is a veggie and egg skillet. I made this one the morning after the fake-bake with the veggies I had left over and already chopped. It was a super easy and healthy breakfast solution!
- extra-virgin olive oil
- one egg
- one egg white
- milk (for the eggs when scrambling)
- leftover veggies, coarsely chopped
- salt & pepper
- shredded cheese (whatever kind you want!)
Put a little olive oil in a pan. Be sure the olive oil coats the pan. Heat the olive oil.
Combine the egg and egg white with some milk in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add any onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add broccoli and cook for a few minutes first. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for one minute.
Spread the veggies around in the pan, then add in the whisked egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for a little bit, and take a spatula and move everything in the pan around (similar to cooking scrambled eggs) so it cooks evenly.
Once the eggs are cooked, move the whole mixture to a plate. Add more salt and pepper if you wish. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.