Let’s say you made short ribs recently, browning them and braising them with a copious amount of red wine and aromatic vegetables. You have, of course, saved not just the uneaten meaty bits, but the rich liquid and tender vegetables as well.
So you shred the meat off of the bones (tossing the bones into the freezer for future stock-making) and toss it into a pan with the leftover braising liquid and vegetables. You add half of a big can of San Marzano tomatoes (squished up), with the juice, and a splash of olive oil. And when everything is warm and soft, you pass about 3/4 of it through a food mill. You put it all back in the pan, taste it, adjust the seasoning, add a palmful of fresh herbs (thyme and marjoram leaves, in this case), and let it continue to cook and reduce while you make the pasta.
One cup of flour, a good pinch of salt, one whole egg plus one golden yolk. You stir, then knead, then roll out sheets, then slice into imperfect, rustic ribbons. You toss them with a bit of flour so they don’t stick together, then you boil them ever so briefly in salted water. They’ll cook quickly, because they’re so thin.
Scoop about half of your ragu out of the pot, put it in a container, and freeze it for another meal. Then take your barely cooked pasta ribbons and add them to the pot of sauce, ladling in a bit of the starchy pasta water for good measure. Toss to coat. Turn off the heat. Add a generous amount of freshly grated cheese. No green cans allowed. Add another sprinkle of fresh herbs if you’re feeling sassy.
Plate up some for your sweetheart, and then for yourself. Sit, clink your glasses, sip, taste, smile. Leftovers do not have to be boring.