For anyone that thinks you can't make healthy, sophisticated meals on a budget, I present you this pasta dish. It also points out how valuable a garden really can be, all year round.
I'm gonna call this more of a "method" than a recipe, because it's very flexible to what you have and like, and feel like throwing in. We make some variation on this dish pretty often, depending on what we have. Here's what I used tonight:
1/2 box whole wheat angel hair pasta (.40)
1 small zucchini (.40)
1/2 medium vidalia onion, chopped (.25)
8oz. button mushrooms, sliced ($1.29)
1 cup rehydrated and diced sundried tomatoes, reserve the liquid you rehydrated them in (.00- homemade from my garden last year)
1 small red sweet pepper, sliced (.20- I got a 1lb. bag of these for $1.99 and they are awesome- I am actually growing a few of these plants this year- can't wait)
1/2 container of pearl sized fresh mozzarella, drained ($1.98)
2T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, garlic powder
2T fresh chopped oregano from garden
1T fresh chopped basil from the garden
Get your water boiling for pasta. Meanwhile, heat your saucepan to medium-high, add 1T olive oil, onion, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once onion is translucent, around 4-5 minutes, add sundried tomatoes, garlic powder, balsamic vinegar and a little bit of the reserved tomato-water. Let simmer another 5 minutes, then add fresh herbs, and an additional pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat to low. Drop pasta into boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and cook according to time on box. Drain. Return pasta to your pot, add 1T olive oil, your tomato mixture and toss. Add some more of the reserved tomato-water if you need to, then toss in the cheese.
Yum! This made enough for 2 adults, 2 kids that like pasta, and enough leftovers for lunch (or for a hubby emptying the fridge at 1am)
I paired with a light caesar salad kit ($1.50) and bread and butter (.30)
Total for this meal was $6.02. You could reduce the cost by about $1.25 by substituting grated mozzarella or parmesan for the fresh mozzarella. You could also make your salad from scratch, or serve a vegetable. If you don't have sundried tomatoes, you could certainly use canned, diced tomatoes...or you could use fresh roma tomatoes that have been cut in half, placed on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil and baked at 450 for about 30 minutes. I am using roasted tomatoes more and more in dishes, and I just love them!
Check out many more affordable, healthy meals at The $5 Dinner Challenge.
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