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Grains, Pasta & Bread


Grains, Pasta & Bread
  • After cooking and draining pasta for salads or casseroles, spin the drained pasta in a salad spinner. This removes excess water from the noodles and will keep the dish from getting water-logged.
  • Cook large pasta shells for stuffing by boiling them in a large pot of water for 30 seconds. Cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes before draining. This helps keep the pasta from sticking together and tearing.
  • When cooking lasagna noodles, drain them on a rack coated with nonstick spray and placed over a baking sheet. They’ll cool quickly and won’t stick together and tear like they could when drained in a colander.
  • To store leftover lasagna, cut into serving-size pieces, then wrap in plastic followed by foil; freeze or refrigerate. To reheat, unwrap completely and place in an ovenproof dish. Cover and reheat in a 350° F. oven until warmed through.
  • Leftover garlic bread makes perfect croutons for the next day’s salad. If the bread is already crisp, simply cut it into cubes and store in an airtight container. If the bread is soft, cut it into cubes and toast in a 350° F. oven until crisp.
  • To freshen slightly stale slices of bread, place them on a splatter screen and set over a skillet of simmering water. The steam will revive the bread in a minute or two.
  • To steam corn or flour tortillas for easy rolling, wrap them in a clean, lightly damp towel and heat in a microwave for 20 seconds.
  • Leftover cooked rice can be stored in resealable plastic bags and frozen to use later in fried rice dishes or to make rice pudding.
  • To give rice subtle flavor, add a few sprigs of hearty fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, to the pot when cooking. Remove the sprigs before serving.
  • Before freezing a package of tortillas for storage, place a piece of wax paper between each tortilla. This way you can remove the number you need without having to thaw the whole package.
  • To keep bread warm in a basket, wrap dried beans in a large, clean tea towel or napkin and heat in the microwave until hot. Place the bean bundle in the bottom of the bread basket, then add bread and cover with another towel.
  • An easy way to make buttered bread crumbs—butter slices of soft white or wheat bread on one side, tear into pieces, then buzz in a food processor until crumbs form. (One piece of bread equals 1/2 cup crumbs.) Use to top casseroles before baking.
  • To make about 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, buzz one slice of soft white or wheat bread in a food processor until crumbs form. Use whenever recipes call for soft or fresh bread crumbs.
  • Give bread dough a boost as it rises by setting the bowl on top of a heating pad set to medium or low.