Too many times you’ve left the restaurant fully expecting to eat your pasta later and never actually doing it. How many dishes of pasta have sat, cold and congealed, on your refrigerator shelves?
Pasta is one of those rare dishes that can heat up well and taste almost the same as it did when it was hot out of the pot. Still, like everything, there are specific steps you can follow to take your day-old pasta from decent to fantastic.
To revive your pasta quickly, add milk or water for moisture, microwave for 2-2½ minutes on half power, stir, and then heat for an additional 30 seconds on full power.
Step 1: Prep the Pasta
Find a Proper Bowl
The microwave is one of the most convenient and efficient inventions in the last century. It’s quick, easy to use, and safe – mostly. Before you pop your pasta in and start it spinning, make sure you have a microwave-safe bowl.
Of course, you know not to use anything metal, but don’t use anything styrofoam or unsafe plastic either. These materials can melt into the pasta and change the taste dramatically. Plus, eating plastic or styrofoam-flavored pasta is in no way healthy or safe. Drop those noodles in a glass or safe plastic bowl before you do anything else.
After you’ve got the pasta in a safe bowl, you’ll want to add a little bit of moisture. Without it, some of the noodles around the edges are going to get crunchy and crusty, which ruins the whole experience.
If your pasta is covered in a cream-based sauce, add a splash (about one tablespoon) of milk to soften it up. If it’s a water base, marinara base, or broth base, add a splash of water to the bowl.
Step 2: Heat the Pasta
Once the pasta is safe, moist, and ready to go, cover the bowl, pop it in the microwave, and shut the door. For this first step, you’ll want to set the cooking time for 2-2½ minutes at 50% power.
To change the power level, enter the cooking time and then hit a button labeled “Power Level” or something like that. Press the ‘5’ and watch the power level change!
After the first round of cooking is done, take the pasta out of the microwave and give it a good stir. If needed, add more milk or water according to the type of sauce used. You can tell it needs more sauce if it has a matte look to it and is no longer shiny. For the second round, recover the pasta, pop it in, and heat it for 30 seconds on full power.
Special Tips and Tricks
For Added Moisture
Adding the milk or water will add back in a lot of the moisture that was lost in the cooling of the pasta. However, if you like your pasta soft and creamy, follow this little hack! Instead of covering the bowl with a plate or a lid, cover it with a wet paper towel.
It shouldn’t be sopping wet and dripping all over the place, but it should be more than damp. A paper towel alone would absorb the steam coming off of the pasta and wick away the much-needed water droplets. To avoid this, you soak the paper towel, creating a moisture-lock as a result. Lock in that moisture!
Sometimes reheating pasta can take away from the beautiful flavor your pasta started with. To add some flavor back in, you can try one of two things. First, lightly season the pasta before you add the milk or water to it in Interval 1. This will add a kick of flavor that will blend throughout both heating intervals.
Second, you can add a bit of cheese or cheese sauce to a pasta you feel would complement the cheesy flavor. If you’ve got a fettucini alfredo dish, add a bit of parmesan cheese and milk to reinstate the original flavors. Heating a baked lasagna? Just add a bit of ricotta or cottage cheese. Bonus tip: cottage cheese adds extra flavor and moisture to the dish!
If Your Microwave Isn’t the Best Quality Microwave Ever
There is another alternative to microwave heating. Grab a pot or pan and place it over the stovetop. Pour about two tablespoons or so of milk into the pan and start it gently simmering. Carefully spoon the pasta into the simmering, warm milk, and stir slowly. Make sure to cook it at low heat!
From there, you can warm the pasta, add more milk or water, season it up, or even add some meat or vegetables of your choice. The microwave is not your only option!
Pasta is a quick fix in the microwave or over the stove! Whatever noodle, sauce, and seasoning combo you’ve got going on, following these steps will bring your pasta back to beautiful perfection. Happy heating!