January 9th, 2011

Monnezzaglia: The Leftovers


One of the most charming gifts I received this holiday was a package of Leftovers. Yes! In Italy, they are known as “Monnezzaglia.” Pastas in all manner of shape and flavor, odds and end bits, are gathered from different runs and packaged together. My Leftovers came from a pasta factory in Puglia.

These delicate cast-offs, tomato-orange butterflies, pinstriped bonnets, tight-petaled flowers, nautilus twists, made me think of the little treasures you collect, while strolling the beach after high tide.


In the package were spinach rigatoni, beet-based radiatori, multi-colored bow ties, wheels, flowers, tubes, striped ribbons—-so pretty and festive. I wanted to cook them immediately, and had to consider what I had in the kitchen to complement them. With all the colors and textures at hand, it needed to be something with a light touch. I didn’t want a thick sauce to mask their vibrancy.

Without question, I could simply boil them, toss them with some good olive oil and dust with a little sharp cheese, done! Simplicity is my preference—but these Monnezzaglia deserved a tetch more attention, and we deserved a more rounded meal.


Had there been seafood of some kind in the house, say, shrimp or crabmeat, I would have made a thin shellfish-based velouté to coat the pasta and incorporated the sweet fruits of the sea into the toss. As it was, I had a large head of cauliflower and a bundle of fat green onions from our Fresh Harvest Co-op.

Have you ever sliced cauliflower into slabs and roasted it? It’s quite tasty—the florets sweeten and mellow, and get caramel-brown, crispy edges. They make rather meaty, substantial fare, too. Roasting a few handfuls of chopped green onion along with them adds another welcome savory-sweet element.


I could imagine these vegetables, seasoned with just salt, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of green olive oil, as fine partners to the Monnezzaglia. Once, I had prepared them in similar fashion with some orzo–a different textural experience, but the visual white-on-white worked, and all the flavors were in easy harmony. The point being, if you don’t have the odd package of Leftovers, then pick out another fun shaped pasta in place.

The Monnezzaglia package directions say that all the varieties miraculously cook in the same time–about 12 minutes. I cooked them slightly less, maybe 10 minutes, and reserved a little salted pasta water, in case I needed more liquid when I added my roasted cauliflower.

But, it didn’t need it. The oil and “sweat” from the roasted vegetables were just right for coating the quirky and elegant shapes. A simple garnish of finely sliced green onion adds brightness and a few strands of shredded gruyere a little creamy gilding.

Quick to prepare, delightful to behold, and delicious to eat:

Fresh Leftovers!

I’d love your suggestions on how to use my remaining Monnezzaglia….


1 head Cauliflower, washed and sliced into 1/2″ slabs
1 medium Onion, sliced
2-4 Scallions, rough chopped
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 lb. “Leftovers” or other Pasta
Shredded Gruyere (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay out slices of cauliflower on a baking sheet pan. Place sliced onion and scallions around the cauliflower. Drizzle with good olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, and dust with red pepper flakes. Place in hot oven and allow to cook to a toasty-brown, about 15 minutes. Flip the cauliflower pieces over and allow to roast on the other side.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the pasta and cook according to package directions—in our case, about 11 minutes.

Drain and toss pasta well with roasted cauliflower, onions, and the oil in which they cooked. Garnish with finely sliced scallion and shredded gruyere. Serves 4.


Posted in Pastas, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables

29 Responses to “Monnezzaglia: The Leftovers”
  1. Karen Says:

    This dish is so beautiful in its simplicity! I love how you created this from “leftovers” and whatever you had at home. The pasta is almost too pretty to eat! :-) Roasted cauliflower is so tasty – I like using it as a base for soup.

  2. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Before reading your post I hadn’t heard of Monnezzaglia. Now I want some. I love roasting cauliflower as you mentioned and have enjoyed it in pasta and on pizza. I can see the challenge in deciding how to use the remainder of your package, they have such personality on their own. What about tossing some fresh spinach and olive oil into your warm pasta and topping with some warm anchovy breadcrumbs. Kind of like Rachel’s Spaghetti with sardines, rocket, lemon, chili and anchovy crumbs http://racheleats.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/oh-crumbs/, but skip the garlic and sardines…or something along those lines. Have fun.

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    You’re right, Denise, those Leftovers do have real personality!
    Yes, I remember Rachel’s anchovy crumbs–great idea–they are such sparks of flavor.

  4. Fluffy Says:

    i agree with the personality! terrific meal

  5. Tracy Says:

    I can honestly say that I’m vexed over the cooking time. I keep looking at the different shapes and sizes…Scratching my head. We often combine leftovers, but usually have to add the 11 minute pasta a couple minutes before we add the 8 minute pasta. You know the drill, I’m sure. That said, different pasta shapes working together makes for the most delicious pasta meals. It just tastes better. Crazy chemistry. Finally, this looks delicious :)

  6. Wendy Says:

    That is the most beautiful pasta dish I’ve ever seen—it would be wonderful too with little bay scallops or pretty pink shrimp.

  7. Faith Says:

    That pasta is the prettiest “leftovers” I’ve ever seen, and what a thoughtful gift it was! The dish you made looks really delicious, especially with the roasted veggies!

  8. nancy Says:

    I’ve never seen monnezzaglia before – how fun! They remind me of confetti – a party on a plate :) Next time I make roasted cauliflower I will try tossing it with pasta, great combination.

  9. Barbara Says:

    I love this, Nancy! Can’t we get Monnezzaglia here? (Although I suppose we could make it ourselves.) You’re right…it does look like a lovely box of pretty beach shells.
    I’ve roasted cauliflower…what a super addition!

  10. Barbara Says:

    Well, I found it online!

  11. Patsy Says:

    A friend of mine has been lauding roasted cauliflower for a couple of years, buuuuuuuuuut now you have convinced me to try it!

  12. Brett Says:

    looks yummy.

  13. FOODESSA Says:

    A perfectly festive and healthy alternative which is certainly very different than what most are used to seeing.
    This pasta, coming from a one of Italy’s most gorgeous coastline…does have a lively population, hence the festive leftover pasta ;o) Not many regions carry this product.

    Cauliflower roasted with onions is a favorite of mine…especially when puréed with some roasted Roma tomatoes…yum.

    Nancy, you did very well to honour this special product.

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tracy–I understand your vexation—but for whatever reason, all the pasta cooked together nicely in the same time. Maybe their thickness is similar enough?

    wendy–yes, bay scallops would be delicious—and repeat that seashell-beach motif!

    nancy—confetti, yes! that word came to my mind too. Love it–party on a plate!

    Barbara—Glad you found it on line! Here’s one link: (there are a few)

  15. Kath Says:

    What gorgeous leftovers they are! I like the idea of the cauliflower, delicious.

  16. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    this is the prettiest pasta i’ve ever seen!! and you created such a lovely plate of out it. thank you for sharing this and have a nice day.

  17. Sruthi @ Exercise, Food & Beyond Says:

    Oh my god I am in love with that pasta, its the prettiest pasta I have ever seen.

  18. Anna Johnston Says:

    You know, I’ve never roasted off cauliflower, but I’ll certainly be doing so soon, I’ve only this last year or so discovered what a versatile little vegetable it is & I can imagine how it’d taste with this stunning package of Monnezzaglia’s. What a fabulous Christmas present.
    I’m with you on choices, I’d go for shrimp or a mixed seafood to compliment this, but your idea has got me thinking…. why stop at roasting off just cauliflower? There’s a whole world of vegetables that would go well with these, or just a simple fresh herb too. Wow., the ideas are endless huh :)

  19. Juliana Says:

    Monnezzaglia? First time in my vocabulary…the various pasta are awesome…the colors and shape are just so pretty and colorful…I sure would love to get my hands in one of this package :-) Looks SO SO yummie!

  20. mark Says:

    Julienne of Fresh Roasted Red Peppers, capers and raisins, sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes and a splash of white wine. Toss and served with grated stagionato and aged balsamic.

  21. Joyti Says:

    Those are the most beautiful ‘leftovers’ I’ve ever seen. How delicious, I love the dish you made with them…I’m really ‘into’ cauliflower at the moment.

  22. Michele Napoli Says:

    Beautiful pasta. I agree that roasting is the way to go with cauliflower.

  23. Renee Says:

    I want leftovers!

  24. Tammy Says:

    The leftovers is such a great concept. Did you know that gazpacho was sort of the garbage bits? But most of all, I love roasted cauliflower!

  25. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    The pasta shapes and colors remind me of candy. What a great gift you received Nancy. I love what you did with them with the roasted cauliflower and onions(I thought those were leeks they’re so big!)

  26. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Oooh, so pretty and I feel so happy that you turned those “leftovers” into a most beautiful of beautiful pasta dishes. I am passing this blog onto Tom Lazzaroli at Lazzaroli’s Pasta so he can see what his beautiful pasta became…Fab! T

  27. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    These eclectic pasta pieces are so beautiful! I like the zany shapes and colors all tossed together. This was a great Christmas gift idea. Leftovers never looked so good.

  28. Madeleine Says:

    Made it and love it! Substituted israli couscous for monnezzaglia. Not as pretty, but oh so tasty!

  29. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Hey to all who live here in Nashville, TN or close-by, Lazzaroli’s Pasta on 5th Avenue North is where I buy my Monnezzaglia…he has carried it for 3 or 4 years in his wonderful little shop. He might be out (it’s popular with certain folks) but if you call first he will get some in for you. Lazzaroli’s is a small Italian grocery, complete with cheeses, olives, fresh and dried pastas made on site daily, sauces, olive oils, bread….everything you need to make a delicious meal from one store right here in Nashville.
    The first time I saw the beautiful Monnezzaglia in his shop I fell in love.

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