The sauce – this can be as extravagant as homemade cheese sauce or as hackish as pesto. It could be lemon juice and sage-infused brown butter or jarred marinara sauce. It just has to loosen up the pasta and coat the other components of the pasta bowl.
PRO TIP: Finish off your cooked pasta in a pan of heated sauce and cook for a minute or so more to REALLY INFUSE SOME FLAVOR INTO IT.
Vegetables – most commonly for me, the vegetables take form in leftovers. Specifically, vegetables in the fridge that reheat relatively well, like bell peppers, string beans, broccoli, cauliflower…
Are beans a vegetable? Separate category for things like black beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, etc.
Protein source – often leftover chicken for me, sometimes an egg (here’s a simple Spaghetti Carbonara recipe), sometimes Subway meatballs, sometimes bacon. Whatever I have.
Pasta – I normally have this with long pasta, but it’d be interesting to test this out with short pasta or shells. I wonder how it would change the dish’s personality.
Just realized that a pasta bowl would probably also taste pretty good chilled. Woah…
The way I cook fried rice is very similar to my approach to pasta bowls, except for a few nuances.
I almost always cook the bowls with eggs, with meat being just a supplementary ingredient.
You can fry the egg separately before you cook the vegetables and proteins, and either leave it in the pan for a broken up, crispy egg texture, or take it out before you add the other ingredients to keep the edges and sides nice and clean.
If you add it to the pan after cooking your veggies and proteins, it will meld with the leftover bits in the pan for an interesting pan-roasted taste.
You can also scramble the egg into the vegetables and proteins – after heating up your leftover veggies and protein, push them to one side of the pan, spray the other side with another coating of oil or Pam, and then crack an egg or two in.
Let it sit for just a few seconds and then just start messing with it. When it starts to clump up like scrambled eggs do, incorporate them into your veggies and protein and let it all heat through thoroughly.
How to reheat leftover rice – Add to a bowl, pour a bit of water over it, and make a well in the middle of the rice so that it heats up evenly when you microwave it for about 30 seconds to a minute (see this article) to heat it up just a bit, but mainly to make it soft and pliable again.
If you really like sticky rice…
Most of the time, my leftover rice will come from the Americanized Chinese restaurant that’s closest to me at any given time, stuck in the fridge after I’ve binged on everything but the rice because that’s how Chinese people do it, cold, hard and very very long-grained.
Sticky rice, on the other hand, is short grain rice that gets sticky and a tiny bit mushy that makes it taste overall less grainy.
To make sticky rice from leftover restaurant long-grain rice, simply add a bit more water to the bowl. Heat it up for a longer amount of time (1:30 max) and then stir well, which will make the rice soften up. Heat for a few more thirty second intervals and stir in between until the consistency of the rice brings comfort to your authentic roots.
Instead of sauce, I add soy sauce, mirin, hoisin sauce, mix it all together and drizzle a bit of sriracha on top.