12 ways to save like an Italian

Posted by Ella Buchan on 7 September 2016

Pasta, pizza and risotto are go-to favourites for simple suppers. But there’s much more to Italian food than that.

In traditional Italian cooking very little goes to waste. Many of the most delicious dishes are rooted in rustic frugality, using up everything in the cupboard and packing it full of Mediterranean flavour.

Here are some very tasty ways to save like an Italian...

Get in a stew

From leftover Italian sausage, to tins of butter and flageolet beans and odds ‘n’ ends of veg - throw it all in a casserole dish and simmer into a flavourful stew.

Use this recipe by Homemade as your inspiration.


Whip up a store-cupboard sauce

From an oh-so-simple pasta sauce with onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes and a pinch of dried oregano to puttanesca – a store cupboard sweep of capers, anchovies, olives, tinned toms and garlic. 

Spaghetti in pasta sauce
Agnese Italian Recipes

Frittata it away

Stretch a few eggs into a family meal, chucking in leftover cooked veg, potatoes and even pasta or rice dishes.


Turn leftovers into minestrone

This hearty soup is traditionally made from bits ‘n’ bobs of veg left in the fridge, from courgettes to cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

Throw in leftover pasta, roasted or boiled veg (chopped into smallish cubes) and canned beans too.


Take stock

Meat bones, fish heads, vegetable scraps... It all goes into the pot to make broth or stock in an Italian cucina

This stew is also a great way to use up fish and seafood.

Seafood stew
Cooks With Cocktails

Make pesto from (almost) anything

Don’t fork out for pricey pine nuts only to use a handful and leave the rest languishing in the cupboard. Walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios and almonds work equally well.

Use whatever herbs you like too - coriander and parsley are delicious blended with the nuts, olive oil and parmesan. You can even whip up a delicious green sauce with rocket, spinach, cavolo nero (black cabbage) or broccoli.

Prawns with pesto
Gimme Some Oven

Use your rinds

Italians know better than to chuck parmesan and other cheese rinds in the bin. They can be stored in the fridge or frozen and used to flavour soups, stews and broths.

Discover other ways to use up leftover cheese here.

Shutterstock via: Salvomassara

From stale to soup

Pappa al pomodoro, a thick bread and tomato soup, uses up stale bread and calls for the ripest tomatoes possible.

Tomato soup
Real Epicurean

Make panzanella

This Tuscan bread salad uses up bread that has become too stale to chew, but comes back to life soaked and combined with tomatoes, onions, herbs and olive oil.

Slightly stale crusty bread is also perfect for bruschetta. Slice into doorsteps, lightly toast, rub with garlic and top with chopped ripe tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms.


Have porridge for dinner

Farinata is thick cornmeal porridge with kale and beans (sometimes turned into pancakes). Experiment with different toppings, from asparagus and mushrooms to leftover roast chicken.

A Way To Garden

Think risotto

That unctuous dish of creamy deliciousness is the perfect home for pretty much anything that needs eating up. From wilting spinach to spoonfuls of pasta sauce, risotto loves your leftovers. Try this butternut squash recipe.

Check out other risotto recipes using leftovers 13 delicious recipes that prove everything works in risotto


Make arancini

And if you have any of that risotto left, roll into little balls, breadcrumb (more leftovers, see?) and fry to make these nuggets of gooey delight.

RecipeTin Eats

Liked this? Then try these:

Simple endings make great beginnings: 10 store cupboard recipes

Crunch time: Use our decision map to help plan your dinner

Saucy saviours: 5 classic sauces to bring leftovers to life