Laura Vitale's Kitchen Saves

Next time you overcook your pasta or the chicken is too dry to serve at dinner, don't throw it away — use Laura's tips and tricks to save the day.

Photo By: Nataliya Arzamasova

Photo By: Christopher Kimball ©Christopher Kimball

Photo By: Giuseppe Esposito

Photo By: Catherine Murray ©Catherine Murray. All Rights Reserved.

Salty Soup

If you oversalt a soup or a stew, add a potato during cooking; it will absorb the extra salt.

Overwhipped Potatoes

You’ve accidently overwhipped your mashed potatoes and they have developed that ever so unappealing glue texture. Nobody wants to eat gluey mashed potatoes, right? Simply turn them into patties. Refrigerate the mashed potatoes, fold in some shredded cheese, then form them into patties and dredge each one in some flour, then some beaten eggs followed by some breadcrumbs. Fry them in some vegetable oil until crispy on both sides and enjoy!

Dry Cake

If you overbake a cake, the best way to use it is to turn it into bread pudding or a trifle. Both ways introduce moisture to the dry cake and completely transform it into something delicious.

Soggy Salad

If you’ve overdressed a salad, simply add some cooked grains (or even cooked pasta) to it. The grains will absorb the extra dressing and also bulk up the salad, which means it'll feed a larger crowd.

Too-Tart Vinaigrette

If you’ve added too much citrus or vinegar to a vinaigrette, instead of adding extra oil, add a teaspoon or so of agave nectar. Regular sugar will settle in the bottom of your vinaigrette, so I opt for agave nectar. Honey is also a good option, but it imparts too much flavor. Agave nectar is somewhat flavorless.

Overcooked Chicken

If you’ve overcooked chicken, as we all have, simply slice it the way you’d like to serve it, place it in a shallow skillet, drizzle some chicken stock over it and cook it over medium-low heat, covered, for about 10 to 15 minutes. The chicken stock will soak through the meat, giving it the flavor and texture of a perfectly cooked chicken.

Mushy Pasta

If you’ve overcooked pasta (don’t even think about serving a plate of overcooked pasta to an Italian), transform it into a pasta frittata, a traditional Italian dish made from leftover pasta. This disguises the overcooked pasta perfectly. Simply add the pasta to a bowl of beaten eggs (six large eggs to 1/2 pound pasta), a handful of Parmesan and, if you have some in the fridge, some diced salami or prosciutto. Mix everything together, then pour it into a hot oiled skillet that is nonstick and ovensafe. Cook the mixture, covered, for about 10 minutes over medium heat, then transfer to a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy this childhood favorite of mine hot, warm or cold out of the fridge.

Overdone Vegetables

Overcooked vegetables can be unappealing in both flavor and appearance. I like to blend overcooked veggies with some stock and a little milk or cream, as it instantly turns those veggies into a velvety soup with hardly any effort. Finish with a fresh grating of Parm and you’re set!

Fiery Food

If you’ve accidently added too much spiciness to your dish, when you’re ready to serve it, add a dollop of sour cream, some mashed avocado or even a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. The tanginess from the sour cream or yogurt (or the fat from the avocado) will instantly cut and balance the heat.

Underseasoned Dough

If you forget to salt any kind of rolled dough (like pizza dough, bread dough or pie crust), after you’ve rolled it out, mix the salt with about 1 tablespoon of warm water and mix until the salt dissolves; use a pastry brush to brush the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. The water allows the salt to seep through the dough, rather than coat the surface and leave the center of the dough bland. My grandmother gave me this tip years ago and it has saved me many, many times.

Get More Kitchen Saves

Watch Laura Vitale on Simply Laura to see even more of her tips and recipes:

Simply Laura