Cooking with leftovers, the recipe for pasta with fish


Cooking with leftovers is an ancient wisdom of popular cuisine, where imagination and frugality are the basis of a large series of home dishes. Here is a recipe for you: pasta with fish

Without vices and without waste. Virtue in the kitchen and a passion for leftovers is the title of the book with which Fabio Picchi, a well-known Florentine chef, soul of the restaurant Cibrèo, declares his love for what remains on the table after lunches or banquets. Massimo Bottura has made the war on waste a mission, a philosophy of life, as well as of cooking, and theorized it in Bread is gold, recipe book entirely dedicated to recovered dishes; Bread is gold is also a recipe, a three-star example of how leftovers can be treated by maximizing their gustatory dignity. Also Antonino Cannavacciuolo devotes attention to this topic in his book Christmas lunch. The holiday dishes and the cooking of leftovers.

Cooking with leftovers, an art

The reuse has always been a virtuous popular habit and, from dumplings to ribollita, dishes with leftovers are an integral part of our regional cookbooks. Today, therefore, the cooks who dedicate volumes of recipes to the kitchen of reuse, moved by the urgency and the ethical obligation not to waste, do nothing but return to the wisdom of ancient dictates.

Already there Master’s rule, a text addressed to the monks of the sixth century, recommended to the friars on duty at the canteen service to collect the bread crumbs from the table every day and to keep them in a vase. At the end of the week, i monks «With these crumbs they will cook a dish, mixed with flour or eggs and in the evening, before drinking the last glass of hot drink, they will put it on the abbot’s table».


Outside the monasteries, i farmers they have always relied on the wisdom of the family cooks in order not to waste even a crumb. A practice certainly born of necessity, but which in our imaginative country has been able to express itself with innumerable variations, coming to deserve to be called “art”. Thus, in fact, the first great theorist of reuse talks about it, Olindo Guerrini: writer and poet of the late nineteenth century, in the last years of his life he was passionate about recipes of reuse, which he had found scattered in various cookery books and magazines. Urged by nothing less than by Pellegrino Artusi, he decided to collect them in a volume which he titled The art of using leftovers from the canteen, with the intention, after “having written many useless and insipid things in life”, of “ending with a serious book, or at least capable of obtaining some gratitude from the cooks”, as stated in the opening of the volume. Certainly the work has established itself as a milestone, a first organized collection, one theorizing of the surplus as an ingredient that has gone through the twentieth century, to reach our days, an era in which attention against waste is no longer just a question of domestic economy, but a real moral obligation. Welcomed, in fact, by contemporary cooks and cultural institutions such as the Italian Academy of Cuisine, which has included it in its Ethical code, where she declares herself “against the waste of food”.

The recipe inspired by Olindo Guerrini

We too of “La Cucina Italiana” in ours Manifest we have dedicated a central importance to the theme of reuse in the kitchen, and in this service we wanted to pay homage Olindo Guerrini, a somewhat eccentric man of letters, sometimes irreverent, amusing even in telling recipes. Of course, he was a poet, not a gastronome, and in the book, as he himself admits, doses and measures are lacking. But with his usual irony, he absolves himself, trusting that “if whoever holds the handle of the saucepan has some practice of the art, he will immediately horizons”. We grabbed the handle, and let ourselves be inspired by some of the recipes in his volume, interpreting and renewing them for our readers.

How to prepare pasta with fish leftovers

Inspired by Olindo Guerrini, it is an easy recipe ready in just 20 minutes.

Ingredients for 2 people

300 g fish or vegetable broth
200 g leftover white fish
160 g short pasta
Tomato concentrate
Fresh chilli
Spring onion
Extra virgin olive oil


Fry in a saucepan 1 clove of crushed garlic with a drizzle of oil and 1 chilli pepper cut into small pieces.
Add 2 tablespoons of concentrate, the broth and the shredded fish pulp.
Cook for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the pasta in boiling salted water, drain it and toss it in the sauce.
Complete the dish with the green of a chopped spring onion and a few fresh basil leaves.

To know

In his book, Olindo Guerrini uses fish with pasta to prepare a kind of pie which he entitles Macaroni of lean. We preferred a fresher version, which replaces the béchamel sauce with a sauce, to be prepared entirely in a casserole rather than in the oven..


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