Apr 26, 2010

Vegetarian: On The Cheap

Sorry I have been gone for so incredibly long.
There are no excuses just blatant blog neglect. I am contrite to your outrage and bring you a humble, healthy apology.
The cost for this meal is a lot up front when we talk about supplies if you don't keep Olive Oil on hand or vodka or wine. It is about $25-$30 if you do not already have this stuff on hand. If you do, it is about $11.00 for the whole shebang. This recipe feeds 4-6 people. Double down and you get 8-12 servings for about $15.00 total. Or roughly $1.25 per serving. Please make this food and feed a bunch of people a really healthy meal. Think of the children!!!

Vegetarian Pasta ( PS...must love tomatoes)

Shopping list:
Tomatoes- any kind will do, about 1.5- 2 pounds worth. To make this super special grab heirloom tomatoes cause holy pretty purple and green tomatoes! ( roughly $6 total depending where you buy them. farmers markets or co-ops have the least expensive highest quality 'maters)
Olive Oil- but you already have this on hand right? The green kind, not the yellow kind. This is important. ( you already have this so it is free. Or about $10 for a really good bottle.)
Penne- about a pound, maybe you want to grab the whole wheat kind? Nummers. ( $3.00 for the whole wheat, less for white flour)
Garlic- fresh. Make sure that bulb is good and tight before you buy it. ($.50)
Vodka- if you are adventurous, white wine if you are Lutheran, nothing at all if you prefer.
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. ( what ever you have is fine, if you are not a sloppy drunk like me, buy a bottle of Vodka for about $15.00 or wine for about $3.00- the 3 buck chuck chard from Trader Joe's is REALLY good)
Heavy cream, NOT half and half or similar. ($1.49, I <3 Market Pantry)
Fresh basil if you feel like it ( free from your herb garden, about $1.00 to buy the plant from a green house or about $3.00 if you buy fresh herbs at the grocery store. Grow your own already)
Parmesan cheese if you want it ( we call this shakey cheese in our house) ( $2.50)

So now we advance to cooking.
Grab a big old skillet/ saucier/ sauce pan
grab a jumbo pot for boiling your pasta
a sharp sharp sharp knife

1. Start large pot of water on to boil.
2. In saucier add about 1/4 + a smidge of olive oil
3. with sharp knife sliver or mince ( whatever you prefer) the garlic, about 4 cloves should do.
4. add to the olive oil on low heat.
5. cook garlic until aromatic ( it smells like garlic). Just about 1-2 minutes. Do not over cook the garlic. yuck.
6. While the garlic cooks cube and seed your tomatoes. This is gross. Do it any way. ( Note.... to seed a tomato, cut in half and either squeeze the seeds out or scoop with a spoon.)
7. when the garlic is done take your wine/ vodka and add to the mix. You want about 1/4 cup of either. Don't do both, sheesh.
8. let the boozey garlic mess simmer a bit till it reduces by half.
9.Toss your 'maters in with the garlic/ booze mix and let cook about 15 minutes. Maybe 20 if you use heirlooms since they are beefier.
10. Is your pasta boiled? Good.
11. add a splash of heavy cream to the tomato slop, heat through.
12. Toss the strained pasta into the sauce and coat.
13. Toss the pasta con sauce into a large bowl.
14. Sprinkle fresh basil on top.
15. Maybe a dash of shakey cheese to the top? Real parm works great too.

I hope you like this. It is a variant to vodka pasta from Williams Sonoma. This nukes really well and is delicioso. Enjoy this fresh, delicious, hearty and inexpensive dish.

Apr 5, 2010

Lemony Caper Pasta: On The Cheap

Here is a fantastic, inexpensive, mostly vegeterian dish that makes my heart sing, my tummy rejoice and my budget stay in tact. I use chicken stock in mine but you can surely use veggie stock if you prefer. I won't lie, chicken stock is way better flavor wise in this dish so think hard about if you are a vegetarian or a sometimes omnivore and plan this recipe accordingly. Did I just cause you to question your every food related conviction? That is what I am all about, making you think the hard thoughts. And cooking food. I am also about that.

I have never had leftovers of this dish because the recipe is for 2 big bowls of pasta. Plan accordingly if you need to feed a larger crowd or like to nuke pasta for lunch. Not sure on its nuking abilities, I have a hunch it gets really dry...let me know your results if you try to nuke yours.
To double this recipe you only need one extra lemon and one extra cup of stock. The rest of the ingredients call for 1/2 or less of the container so you would just use what ever extras you have.
This recipe for 2 huge bowls of pasta is not super cheap, I'll be honest. About $6.50 but I think it is an indulgence worth taking. To double it, add about $2.50 to the bill. So for $9.00 you can feed 4 very happy people.

Shopping List:
One cup of chicken stock ( comes in a small box in the soup aisle)
One small jar of capers in brine ( non flavored and non vinegar packed)
One large lemon
2 shallots ( not two cloves if you are thinking of shallots being like garlic, two full shallots. Think of them like onions even though they have cloves in side. You need two full purple shallot bulbs)
About 1/4 to 1/2 box of thin spaghetti ( not angel hair, it won't hold the sauce as well as a thicker noodle)
Some thyme ( fresh or dried or not at all)
1/4 cup olive oil
2tbsp butter ( I just grab a hunk out of the dish, there is no exact science when it comes to butter)

To cook:

Boil a mondo pot of water for your pasta. This is a very quick sauce so you want to toss your noodles in as soon as the water boils. The pasta should be al dente- set the timer to whatever the box says and ignore your noodles till it beeps.

Grab a large pan ( sauce pan or saucier if you have one) You will need a fair amount of room because the noodles will join your sauce for a few minutes at the end and you need to have about 4-6 inches of depth and preferably about 12- 14 inches of diameter. A pan that meets these criteria is a fantastic investment. I bought mine 2 years ago on Mother's day special at Macy's for about $15. I use it is a wok and all sorts of other things.
Moving on....

1.In this pan over medium heat add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
2.Chop your shallots up finely.
3.Before you toss the shallots in your oil add your butter. You don't want to add it too soon because butter burns super easy. The olive oil helps prevent the burn so wait till the last second to add it.
4.Once your butter is melty toss the shallots in and saute for about 2 minutes until they are tender. ( Note: If your oil is spattering you need to turn down your heat, it is too hot to cook the shallots properly and they will burn).

5.To the butter/ shallot/ Oil mix, add in your cup of stock. Give it a stir and then let it simmer and burble until it thickens up, about 3 minutes. Maybe a smidge more.

6.While this is burbling, grab your lemon and a micro plane ( teeny bladed cheese grater) or zester or your regular old cheese grater ( use the fine blades) and zest up that lemon. You can skip the lemon zest if you want, I just think it adds more flavor.
7.After you have zested your lemon, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into your sauce. Careful to not get any seeds in there, it makes for a nasty surprise. Give your sauce a good stir.
8. Drain your perfectly cooked pasta, toss it into the pan with your sauce.
9. Toss the pasta with the sauce and let simmer in the sauce for about a minute.
10. While the sauce is simmering, drain and rinse 1/4 cup of capers. This is about 1/2 the small bottle.
11. Toss the capers and a pinch of thyme into the mix and toss it all around.
12. Serve immediately.
13. Enjoy the very satisfying yet light and delicious pasta.

ps....if you like meat with your pasta, a grilled fish seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice would go awesome with this dish... just saying...

Did you like it? Let me know!!
Got a good idea for a meal on the cheap? Shoot me a message and I'll tell you how to be a guest cheap skate. I don't just do entrees and the like, if you have any good food ideas for deserts, side dishes etc...I want to hear them and the internets want to read them!