The Best Thing to Make With Leftover Pasta

This tasty meal comes together in 30 minutes or less with leftover cooked pasta (or uncooked noodles)

Baked Shells and Greens
Photo: Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

The best weeknight dinners should not only be delicious and quick to prepare, they should also make the most of whatever random ingredients happen to be hanging out in your refrigerator—like leftover pasta. Which is why I love this recipe for Baked Shells and Greens. It checks all those boxes and more.

Sure, you could just toss leftover pasta with some melted butter and cheese and call it a meal. No shame in that. But you could also top that same pasta with a hearty mixture of marinara sauce, ground turkey, sautéed greens, and melted mozzarella. I think I know which one you would choose.

Most of us have pasta somewhere in our kitchens—either leftover noodles packed away in a storage container in the fridge, or a box of uncooked noodles in the pantry. This recipe tastes great with either. And although the recipe calls for shells, which cradle the tasty sauce and crumbled turkey, you can use any tubular shaped pasta instead. You can even use long, thin noodles in a pinch.

WATCH: Comforting Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

You can also swap out the turkey for ground chicken, textured vegetable protein, sausage (out of the casing), or ground beef. You can replace the Swiss chard with fresh spinach, or chopped cooked (leftover!) vegetables such as broccoli, broccoli rabe, or asparagus.

The cheese on top is flexible too. If you don't have fresh mozzarella, you can top this pasta with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese or even shredded Monterey jack, or a handful of crumbled feta.

Basically, if you have pasta in your kitchen, you can make this dinner happen—and maybe even use up a few more leftovers in the process!

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