I've been making a pound of pasta on Sunday and eating for lunch at work throughout the week, where we just have a microwave.

The first time I did this, I cooked a jar of pasta sauce and combined both the sauce and the pasta in a big Tupperware. Before work I would transfer a portion to a smaller Tupperware and microwave it at work. The pasta I ate on Sunday was wonderful, but what I had at work was dreadful.

The second time I did this, I didn't cook any pasta sauce (except for what I ate that night), only the pasta. I brought the pasta and a jar of pasta sauce to work. At lunch I combined them and microwaved it which was marginally better than before. The next day I microwaved the pasta for 2/3 of the time, and then added the pasta sauce for the final 1/3 of the time. This was much better -- however, it is still nowhere comparable to the pasta I eat Sunday night when it comes straight off the stove.

Given I don't have a stove which I could reboil the pasta for a few minutes or to cook the pasta sauce, how should I consume my left over pasta to maximize its taste?

  • What was "deadful" about it, exactly? No leftovers will ever taste exactly the same...
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:20
  • I prepare the pasta like I always do (cook and tossed in the sauce), and freeze individual portions; IMO it keeps better.
    – Max
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:21
  • @SAJ14SAJ Lets say that when eaten off the stove, it tastes 100% good. If I mix my sauce and pasta and put it in Tupperware, it tastes really bad, like 33%. Separating the pasta from the sauce, then mixing the sauce and microwaving the whole time increases it to 50%. Adding the sauce towards the end of the microwaving cycle increases it to 75%. Mar 27, 2014 at 7:49
  • @Max have you ever tried keeping them separate until you eat it later? Mar 27, 2014 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


No leftover pasta is going to have the exact same quality as freshly prepared.

If you store the pasta with the sauce, it is going to continue to absorb moisture, and the texture will get softer, and the sauce will become thicker and reduced in volume due to the absorption of the water.

The thing is, if you are using jarred pasta sauce, it doesn't really need to be cooked (it was cooked as part of the manufacturing and canning process); it just needs to be reheated to be enjoyable.

Microwaves can also boil water, although you should be very careful due to the risk of superheating. I suggest getting a small electric kettle if one is not already available.

Bring water up to a boil in the electric kettle (its faster and easier than doing it in the microwave, and doesn't have the risk of superheating). Pour the hot water into a microwave safe container, and add one portion of uncooked pasta. Stir for a few seconds to dissolve the surface starches and prevent sticking. Microwave on high, covered, until it is almost done to your liking. It doesn't have to stay at a full boil ; anything above 180 F / 82 C will do. It also does not require a huge volume of water. You may want to stir once or twice during the cooking period.

This is easiest with short pasta shapes like farfalle or penne, which easily can be cooked in a smaller container. Even long pasta like spaghetti will work if you break it in half and allow it to soften so that it all goes into the water--and very thin pasta like angel hair or cappelini will cook more quickly.

When it is almost done, drain it, add the cold sauce, and microwave a little more to heat the sauce through and finish off the pasta.

You will need to experiment to learn the best times (the pasta may cook somewhat more slowly than the stovetop method), but this method is extremely effective.

It will take longer than just reheating food, so be courteous to your co-workers in choosing when to do it, to prevent workplace strife.

Note: this method can be employed without the electric kettle. If you are going to bring the water to a boil in a microwave, take steps to prevent super-heating, by leaving a wooden chopstick, popsicle stick, or similar in the water to provide nucleation points.

  • Thanks for the suggestion, but there are too many people competing for the microwave. I will try it on a Friday however when most people work from home and report back. Mar 27, 2014 at 7:51

First, if you're cooking your pasta only for lunch during the week, cook it very al dente (slightly undercooked) and portion it into containers. Keep your pasta and sauce separate.

To re-heat the pasta use whatever hot water source you have available for making tea, cocoa, etc. and let it sit for a minute or two to get hot. If the microwave is the only thing you have, add water to cover your pasta and nuke it till very hot, let sit a minute, then drain.

Heat the sauce separately and mix with your now hot pasta and enjoy!

  • Ok I like the idea of using the hot water instead of the microwave; I'll give it a test. Shall I heat the sauce in the microwave separately and dump it on? Good point about cooking it less al dente than normal. Mar 27, 2014 at 7:47
  • I'd say that technically/linguistically, you should cook it more al dente....as al dente means "to the tooth", which means harder, chewier. Mar 27, 2014 at 16:03
  • @JoséNunoFerreira good point Mar 27, 2014 at 19:27

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