I’m really bad with leftovers. Of any kind. I hate eating leftover meals; I never know what to do with the extra sour cream, odd number of vegetables, or buttermilk (actually, anyone have suggestions for that one?). So when I made Chris lasagna with homemade noodles (oh, why yes, I AM tooting my own horn), I was not about to throw out the extra noodles. Not after all that work!
I consulted my Mom and Chris’s mom, and they both suggested some form of “lazy” noodle dish. Lasagna or pierogi dishes are what they both came up with. When I Googled recipes, I realized I couldn’t make either of these casseroles with what was already in my house. I felt like going out and buying ingredients was cheating, so I charged into my kitchen and decided to challenge myself to make something edible using ONLY ingredients I already had on hand.
Here’s what I pulled out of the refrigerator:
- Lasagna noodles (mostly stuck together, entirely irregularly shaped)
- Leftover canned diced tomatoes
- Half used, already opened spaghetti sauce
- Tomato from a friend’s garden
- Giant zucchini from my cousin’s garden
- Parmesan cheese
- Cream cheese
I had almost all the ingredients for a lazy lasagna, but cheese was certainly lacking. I thought adding oil and focusing on the noodles as the main part of the dish would help take this away from a lasagna-without-enough-cheese dish to something different.
I started by sauteeing the onions and garlic. Classic move. I then cut the noodles into pieces, generally trying to keep each piece about the size of a one-inch square. But I certainly wasn’t methodical. I chopped up the tomato and added that to the noodles.
I debated shredding the zucchini; I had it on the brain since I had intended to use the zucchini for a bread anyway. But then I thought by keeping the zucchini pieces bigger, it would give a little more ‘meat’ to the dish. I chopped the zucchini up, and at the last minute, threw the pieces in with the sauteed onion and garlic. The pan was clearly too small, but I really just wanted to coat the zucchini with the flavors from the onion and garlic.
I dumped the contents of the pan in with the noodles and the tomatoes and tried to even everything out. At this point, the cream cheese and I held a staring contest. I’m not sure who the “winner” really was, but in the end, the cream cheese didn’t make it into the dish. The flavor would have been too sweet with everything else going on (although I have seen lasagna and baked ziti recipes that include cream cheese, there were no other cheese flavors to counteract the cream cheese).
From here, I dumped some sauce and went to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top. But my hand wasn’t so steady, and I dumped almost the entire container of cheese onto the top of the dish. I took this as a sign, and just finished the cheese.
I crossed my fingers and put the casserole dish in the oven; baked at 350 for 35 minutes.
In the end, the verdict is: Meh.
Not so good, not so bad. With a little extra salt and a little extra sprinkle of grated cheese at the time of serving, it’s not half bad. More like a lasagna than I would have thought. The best part about this was the true cost of this dinner for Chris and I: $0. Everything we already had in the house, and in all honesty, would probably have spoiled before we got around to using it. So I’m happy with how that turned out. And I think I’ll challenge myself to do this again sometime.
Do you have a knack for using leftovers at home? What is your secret?