I can’t think of a more budget-friendly meal than pasta. How much are those cup-o-soups? 30 cents? Truth: I’m no longer eating like I’m in college (sorry, Ramen), but that doesn’t mean we adults don’t find ourselves in situations when we need to pull the pursestrings a little tighter and cut down on the spending in the checkout line. In those stressful, ‘weight-on-your-financial-shoulder’ moments, I look for penny-pinching ways to make economical pasta dishes.
Let’s be honest, pasta and jarred sauce can get a little boring after a while…even when you’re trying to ease the strain on your bank account. I love sprucing up my pasta dishes with some fresh, sliced vegetables. Zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms are my favorites! I combined a big pile of summer veggies to put a twist on a Goat Cheese and Portobello Pasta to create a new dish that has a little pizazz, but won’t break the bank.
1 box whole wheat pasta
1 yellow zucchini, sliced
1 green zucchini, sliced
2 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned, de-capped, and cubed
1 small bunch asparagus, cleaned and cut into pieces
1 4oz container of goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup half n half
1. In a large, deep skillet add 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon of sugar on medium heat. Once warmed, add chopped onion to the skillet and caramelize the onion stirring often until onion is golden brown. Remove onion from skillet and set aside.
2. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. (Wheat pasta takes a little longer than enriched pasta to cook) Drain pasta, but RESERVE 1 1/2 CUP OF PASTA WATER.
3. At the same time, in the same skillet as you made the caramelized onion, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter. Once warmed, add zucchini, mushroom cubes and asparagus. Stir until veggies begin to become tender. Add dashes of salt and pepper, add cooked onion to skillet, and continue to stir until veggies are tender but not mushy. I like my veggies with a bit of a crunch still in them.
4. Toss the pasta with the veggie mixture, the goat cheese, the parmesan and the cream until cheese is evenly distributed and melted into a “sauce”. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to help thin the sauce.
7. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.