This recipe comes directly from the kitchen of my dear friend Lisa, who found it in One Handed Cooks magazine. Lisa is such a wonderful old soul – she carefully loves the people around her, thinks hard about everything that’s important in life and wastes no time on what isn’t. She looks after her family simply but diligently, with a heart full of wonder at all God’s given her. She put me onto this tasty, simple, and affordable meal and in addition to all these things, it’s so very her: warm, generous, and hearty. Once cooked, this crowd-pleasing one pot dish can be pureed with a stick blender for babies and frozen for future baby meals – no need to make the little ones a separate meal. And if you need a gluten free meal, simply exchange pasta for the gluten free variety. This dairy free recipe costs around $7 to make and serves 6. Thanks Lis, when I grow up I wanna be just like you.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 340g dried linguini (any pasta is fine though)
- 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1 large chicken breast, diced very small
- 4.5 cups chicken stock (powdered is fine, but check for gluten if need be)
- ½ cup basil leaves (but dried is totally fine too)
- Heat oil in a large pot/frypan. Sauté onion and garlic together over low heat. Gently fry chicken pieces in this mixture.
- Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through and liquids have reduced to a risotto-like consistency. Enjoy with crusty bread and/or salad.
Friendship has got to be one of the most precious things in life – just one of God’s many graces, but one of his best. A writer I recently stumbled upon, Katherine Sonderegger, says that for her “…friends have turned each day and season into golden joy.” I can’t help but agree. Years ago, a friend texted to ask when we’d be home from our summer holiday. When we arrived home this Penne alla Matriciana was waiting in our fridge, along with a bottle of milk, and the air-con had been switched on for us so we would arrive home to a cool house. A month ago she did much the same thing for us (and countless times in-between), and tonight when I finally tried this recipe for myself, as they always do when my pantry lacks an ingredient, our champion neighbours provided me with what I needed – this time, a tin of tomatoes. So for me, this authentic Italian recipe from Diane Seeds The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, is all about friendship. And it tastes simply out of this world – so much better than any store bought pasta sauce in a jar, because the high cook temperature produces lovely bit of caramelised tomato that end up running throughout the sauce, giving the whole thing a rich and rustic flavour. And this kid-pleasing dish is so cheap and simple to prepare. Make it for friends new or old, using the quantities below and this classic recipe will feed 6 and cost around $6 to make.
- 500g penne pasta (or whatever you prefer)
- 30ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 250g middle bacon, thinly sliced
- 60g parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat the oil and gently fry the chopped onion and garlic until softened, cover the frypan to avoid browning. Add the tomatoes with their juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cook on a high flame, uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce is reduced and thick, check the seasoning and puree roughly with a stick blender. In the same frypan, fry off the bacon and set aside.
- Cook the pasta following the directions on the packet. Drain the pasta and stir the sauce and bacon through with the pasta in its cooking pot. Serve with toppings of grated parmesan and with a salad or garlic bread as desired.
Pasta has to be one of the easiest and cheapest things in the world to make. As is the case for many of us I’m sure, pasta dishes in my kitchen are rarely based on a recipe but on whatever happens to be in my cupboard and rapidly going off in the bottom of my fridge. This was the case one weekday a few months ago, coming home from a long afternoon of after school sport. The freezer yielded a chorizo or two and everything was tossed in to make this simple dinner that the whole family enjoyed. If you decided to make this, do make any exchanges that take your fancy: passata can be replaced with any variety pesto and chorizo with bacon or chicken – use whatever floats your boat. I’ve costed this recipe at $13 using Woolworth’s prices, but I do find it much cheaper when I shop at my local grocer instead. Serves 6.
- 130g chorizo, diced finely (approximately 2 sausages)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 2 cloves, freshly crushed
- a drizzle of olive oil
- half a bag of mushrooms, peeled and sliced, stems and all
- 1 medium capsicum
- 60 gram bag baby spinach
- 500g pasta (whatever you prefer)
- 1/2 700g jar of passata (I use homebrand)
- shavings of fresh parmesan
- Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta and add the uncooked pasta as soon as water is rapidly boiling. Keep checking and stirring so pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- In a large frypan gently fry up the diced chorizo and garlic with the olive oil
- When pasta is close to al dente, add mushrooms and capsicum to the frypan with the chorizo. Continue frying until just soft.
- Drain pasta, turn back into the pot, add the chorizo and vegetable mix, the bag of baby spinach and the passata. Toss until combined well and spinach has wilted.
- Serve immediately and top each offering with shavings of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Oh my goodness life is busy at the moment. My five year old has started school and there’s so much to get my head around (news, library books, computers, home readers, buddies, making friends at the school gate, getting out the door on time and the endless cycle of making lunches – I could go on). The uni year which has been amping up began to reach one of its crescendoes with O week which started today (exciting times!). There’s been lots of slack dinners lately but thankfully my friend Belinda shared this recipe with me and it lasted us three nights in a row – economical on both time and money. And it’s a sensational tasting dish too. This mexican beef and pasta bake was scoffed down by my kids (perhaps because it wasn’t Weet-bix?) and us grown ups loved it just as much. And don’t worry, it’s not hot in the spicy sense at all. The pictures above represent a double quantity and using those listed below this dish will set you back between $10-12. Serves 6. Thanks Belinda – this one’s already part of our family.
- 200g spiral pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion
- 1 red capsicum
- 400g beef mince
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30g packet Taco Spice Mix (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup water
- 400g can diced tomatoes (generic is fine)
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 400g can red kidney beans, drained (generic is fine)
- 310g can corn kernels, drained (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees or 160 degrees fan-forced. Lightly spray a 2L oven-proof dish with oil. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until softened. Add mince and cook, breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Stir in taco spice mix and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini and 1/2 cup water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender and mixture has thickened. Add pasta, beans, corn and mix to combine.
- Combine mixture into prepared dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden.
This awesome recipe comes from my friend Kate, via taste.com.au. A tasty, cheap, easy and filling dinner for 6 people. Using around half a BBQ chicken, this recipe pairs well with Open Chicken Sandwiches with Lemon and Almonds during a working week or a weekend of having people over – 2 yummy meals that use just one chicken between them. Kate suggests adding a handful of pine nuts to the the zucchini fry-up and if zucchini doesn’t float your boat, add half a bag of baby spinach leaves to the hot pasta mixture at the end and watch them wilt up beautifully. Totalling around $8 to make this is a recipe I’ll be using again and again. Thanks Kate!
- 500g bowtie pasta or similar
- 100g butter, chopped
- 2 zucchini, coarsely grated
- 2 yellow zucchini, coarsely grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about half a chicken)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- grated parmesan cheese, optional, to serve
- Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 30g butter in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until heated through.
- Add pasta, remaining 70g butter, green onions, lemon rind, 1/4 cup lemon juice and parsley to chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, over low heat until heated through. Sprinkle with parmesan, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
The other night I was in need of a quick dinner option that would use what I already had in the fridge/cupboard and save a trip to the shops. Taste.com.au came up with this answer and having never before made Carbonara properly, that is, traditionally – I decided to give it a go. The whole family chowed down on this dinner and asked for more. This yummy ‘sometimes’ dinner would be an easy end to a day gone wrong or a simple, achievable meal for a large group. Total cost $3 and serves 6+. Enjoy!
- 500g spaghetti
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, bruised
- 150g piece pancetta or bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 40g (1/2 cup) grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve
1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 125ml (1/2 cup) cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pancetta, and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until both are light golden. Discard garlic and remove pan from heat.
3. Whisk eggs, parmesan and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper in a bowl (don’t add salt as cooking water and pancetta are salty). Add reserved hot cooking water and whisk until well combined.
4. Return frying pan to medium heat. Working quickly, add hot pasta and toss for 2 minutes or until well coated with oil and pancetta. Remove pan from heat, add egg mixture, then toss for 1 minute or until egg mixture is creamy and warmed through (the heat from the pasta and pan will cook and slightly thicken the egg mixture without scrambling it).
5. Divide carbonara among plates and scatter with extra parmesan. Serve immediately.
I am a big fan of stir-through pasta sauces and regularly use store-bought ones for ease of use and lowering stress when it comes to meal times and hospitality. There are some really great tasting ones out there and I heartily encourage their use if it means making hospitality easier. Having said that, the recipe that follows for home-made basil pesto is just so easy and yummy that I had to share it with you. The bright green and powerfully flavoured pesto that results is worlds apart from its perfectly-fine supermarket counterparts. This Stephanie Alexander recipe is one that I’ve cherished for many years because of its taste, ease, affordability and versatility: make it ahead of time and store in fridge for a later use, such as a main pasta dish or on sandwiches or even as a dip with crackers and cheese. My favourite way to use it tossed through hot spirals of pasta with pan-fried chorizo cut into half-moon shapes with chunks of fresh capsicum. The quantities that follow make 250g of pesto and the photo above is a double quantity in a 500g jar. Depending on where you source your basil from, this little jar of basil bliss will set you back around $4.
- 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to seal
- ¼ cups pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Sea salt
- 60 grams parmesan, grated
- Put basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth. Stop the machine once or twice and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Remove cutting blade and change blade to a fine grate. Put parmesan through the processor into the bowl on top of the basil mixture. Remove blade and mix well (or grate cheese with a grater and add to basil mixture and mix well).
- Spoon pesto into a clean and dry 250 ml-capacity screw-top jar. Press down with the back of a spoon to ensure there are no air pockets and seal with a film of olive oil. Store in the refrigerator.