Leftover Spaghetti Casserole

Growing up, my parents taught us not to waste food, as much or more by example than by words. We froze the surplus from the garden to use during the year, composted vegetable scraps, frequently ate leftovers, and my mom often planned meals around bits and pieces that needed to be used up.

I am not as accomplished as this, and frequently find bits of food falling by the wayside. It frustrates me, though, and I try to move closer and closer to being very low waste.

I am bothered not just by my waste at home, but also by waste at my synagogue. We serve lunch every Saturday after services, and depending on the meal and attendance, there are varying amounts of leftovers. Certain leftovers can be frozen for another meal, and other times leftovers are taken to the local fire station or to the Jewish seniors program.

Some leftovers are left in the kitchens to be eaten during the week by staff and volunteers. However, this can be spotty, and not everything gets eaten. Twice in the last year, we’ve had leftover spaghetti that has languished in the fridge. The first time, I was told to take it home so it wouldn’t be tossed, and ended up with almost a full pan of angel hair.

I tried to come up with something to make, that would allow me to freeze most of it, and brainstormed this casserole. I wasn’t sure what I thought about it at first, but I came to crave the herby carb goodness, and quickly went through my freezer stash one lunch at a time.

This week, I came in at night to bake challah and a cake, and was in need of a quick dinner. The leftover spaghetti was a welcome sight, and I was able to tweak a few things that I learned the hard way the first time around.

This is much more of a technique/idea than a specific recipe. Basically, find a baking dish that fits all your leftover spaghetti, coming near to the top. Move the spaghetti to a mixing bowl, and spray the baking dish with nonstick spray. Add a bunch of dried herbs (or fresh if you have them) until the spaghetti is nicely covered. Trust me, more is better than less, as this is where the flavor in the dish comes from. This batch I used oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, granulated garlic, and the mix Herbes de Provence. This would also be good with an Italian herb mix, or Penzey’s Mural of Flavor, or really anything else that you like.

Add a handful of grated cheese, and then enough eggs to coat the spaghetti. Just break the eggs into the mixing bowl, use tongs to lightly scramble them, and then use the tongs to toss the eggs and the spaghetti together. If you have leftover garlic bread, crumble some into the pasta and then crumble a layer on top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees F until the eggs are set, at least 30 minutes, sprinkling more cheese on the top halfway through.

I know it sounds strange, but it is really addictive. Enough so that I’ve been tempted more than once to make spaghetti just so I can make this dish, taking it out of the leftovers camp and into the meal rotation.

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