Category Archives: Italian

Roasted-tomato topping for pasta, bread or polenta: 39 cents/serving

Apologies for the late post, but I have officially entered into the late stage of pregnancy where standing on my feet, at the counter, for long periods of time has gotten almost unbearably difficult. I’m still cooking, mind you, but it’s more in the vein of throwing things together based on the garden and pantry and hoping they cohere enough to be edible before I have to go sit down. The resulting “recipes,” if I remember them at all, are rarely innovative or tested enough to warrant inclusion on the blog. The last thing I made that would be worth your time and trouble to re-create was this roasted tomato dish, utilizing what appears to have been the last big tomato harvest of the summer. It’s nothing fancy, just a big ol’ pile of heirlooms and a few handfuls of sun golds (or whatever tomatoes you have on hand), roasted in olive oil to concentrate their sweetness and topped with basil-garlic bread crumbs. I served it over pasta, but it would also be great over polenta or on bread as a sort of bruschetta.

Continue reading

Panzanella: 18 cents/serving

With compliments to the Italians, panzanella is the original budget meal. The O.G. Sui generis. Some stale bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes and basil from the garden, and you’ve got yourself dinner. Provided you made your own bread or are using a loaf that otherwise would’ve been thrown out (and have tomatoes and basil in your garden), it shouldn’t cost more than 25 cents or so a serving. And it’s still tasty even after it’s sat for a while, making it an excellent side or potluck dish.

Continue reading

Baked orzo with sage pesto: $1.04/serving

If you’re like many gardeners this time of year, you probably have (or have access to) a large, lush, healthy bush of sage…waiting for October or November. Sage is usually considered a fall herb, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Combined with a little mint, parsley, and/or basil to offset its medicinal taste, sage makes an unexpected, light, summery pesto. It’s great by itself on pasta, but even better in this baked orzo dish that comes together quickly and makes enough servings to last through the week, for lunches or emergency dinners on days it gets too hot.

Continue reading

Sweet corn risotto: $1.36/serving

Is anyone else having as much trouble as I am procuring decent corn this summer? It happened (albeit slightly early) with the corn & prosciutto crisp last month, and it happened again this week: I go to the store expecting bins overflowing with cheap, fresh, delicious corn and find a sad little pile of overpriced, desiccated cobs that look destined for someone’s bird feeder. I specifically don’t grow corn in the yard because it’s always so cheap, abundant and delicious elsewhere, and this is the first year it looks like that decision is going to come back and bite me in the butt. I might have to do without, or at least play pretend with a few bags of frozen corn. So, dear readers, if you have access to plump, fresh, juicy ears of corn, this recipe is for you. It’s intentionally simple to bring out the sweetness of the corn against the savoriness of the Parmesan.

Continue reading

Gemelli with sungold tomatoes, beans & olives: 63 cents/serving

We had our first harvest of sungold tomatoes this week, and as difficult as it was for me to refrain from eating them right off the plant (although I admit there may have been a few that “fell”), I managed to accumulate enough to make this pasta dish. It’s a light, quick, cheap, and filling warm-weather meal, especially with the beans, and it can, of course, be made with any variety of cherry or grape tomato. I also used fresh oregano, but I didn’t like it all that much with the olives, so I’m recommending you use basil.

Continue reading

Farfalle with bacon, goat cheese, rosemary & arugula: $1.77/serving

As I’ve mentioned before, pregnant folks are not supposed to eat soft cheeses—goat cheese, blue cheese, Brie, et al.—due to the risk of contracting listeria. Never mind that most commercial soft cheeses available in grocery stores are made from pasteurized milk, and that the listeria danger comes chiefly from unpasteurized milk. It’s kind of like the alcohol thing…yes, studies show a beer or a glass of wine here and there isn’t going to cause any harm, but WHAT IF? It doesn’t matter how irrational the claim. If you’re pregnant, you’ve been told not to do something, and you’re even the slightest bit neurotic to begin with, there’s no way you’ll be able to bring yourself to do it. And so it is with me and eating goat cheese that hasn’t been cooked. This means any consumption of goat cheese (and there can’t not be consumption of goat cheese; I’ve given up a lot of things, but that’s not going to be one of them) must be worked into an existing dinner somehow, like the cheese-stuffed mac ’n’ cheese pie, or this pasta, which I admit I was kind of obsessed with even before I went and got myself knocked up.

Continue reading

Gorgonzola- and prosciutto-stuffed chicken breast with strawberry-balsamic sauce: $1.94/serving

The garden strawberries! They just won’t quit! In my zeal to use them, I even broke one of my personal rules against meals consisting largely of one big ol’ hunk of meat. And it was chicken breast, at that. (I usually prefer thighs, as they’re more flavorful and less prone to dryness, but in this case breasts were easier to stuff.) However, this is the best savory use for strawberries—outside of salads—I’ve ever found, and I’ve been making it for years now (pre $35-a-week, of course) to great acclaim. If you want to get real fancy you could even convert this into a roulade, which would make for a much prettier picture than the one above. The sauce also doubles as a salad dressing; feel free to add a mess of spinach leaves or other greens to the other half of the plate. (As I did after this picture was taken.)

Continue reading

Roasted carrot & thyme risotto: $1.19/serving

We buy 10-pound bags of carrots at Costco (only 50 cents a pound!) for juicing, so since they’re always around, I find myself on a neverending quest for creative and delicious ways to use them in meals (see: carrot ragout, carrot ravioli, carrot soup, carrot pickles, carrot muffins, carrot sauce for pasta….). This time up, I decided to use one of my favorite blank templates for flavors: risotto. I simply roasted the carrots with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme from the garden, processed them with a little cream until creamy but still slightly chunky, and stirred them into risotto with some Parmesan to highlight their sweetness. I have to say, it was pretty darn good, especially for only costing less than $2.40 for the entire pot.

Continue reading

Baked orzo with beef & mushrooms: $1.21/serving

Nothing particularly brilliant or groundbreaking about this meal; I had a little bit of beef sirloin and a small bowl of chopped shallots that needed to be used up, as well as a can of whole tomatoes from the pantry that was already two months past its sell-by date (one of the pitfalls of buying in bulk at Grocery Outlet). It would’ve been easy to just grind up the beef and make a simple sauce to serve over pasta, but I added mushrooms and orzo and chose to bake it for something a little different. If this sounds like it might be up your alley, feel free to experiment with different kinds of ground meat, different mushrooms, and even different cheese (I used Parmesan because it’s what I had), as your budget permits.

Continue reading

Parsley-walnut pesto: $1.12/serving

Apologies for the dearth of posts the past few days; we had company over the weekend, and while I did try and cook at least some of the time, I wasn’t keen on interrupting the day’s activities to sit down and write about it. But I’m back now, and with a surplus of parsley growing wild and neglected in the Aerogarden. I’ve had reasonable success growing parsley outdoors, but WOW this stuff loves growing hydroponically. I can hardly keep up, which is exactly why this pesto might soon be in the regular rotation. Even if you don’t grow your own parsley, a bunch is usually less than 50 cents at the grocery store as opposed to $1.99 or more for half that amount of basil, and it works wonderfully with inexpensive walnuts instead of $26.99-a-pound (yes, that’s what they cost at my grocery store…IN BULK!) pine nuts. B. and I both think it tastes just as great as “regular” pesto, plus it gets dinner on the table in less than 2o minutes and makes excellent lunch leftovers.

Continue reading