Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegetarian Garlic & Olive Oil Barilla Plus Spaghetti & Tomato Salad with Fat Free Homemade Balsamic Vinagrette

This is an easy one & a very cheap one to make. You can use whatever veggies you like or happen to have on hand. Tonight, all I had was garlic, red pepper & onion. So that's what I used. Mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, spinach? All fantastic.

I was just informed that my husband's unemployment has run out today. I'm sure we'll be having this as a staple more often as money gets tighter. This meal only costs about $3 to make and it makes A LOT of pasta.

Ingredients/Directions for the Balsamic Vinagrette
You can use ratios for this. It's 1/2 good balsamic vinegar (you can often get it cheap at TJ Maxx or Marshalls) to 1/2 honey + a squirt of dijon mustard, a good pinch of kosher salt & black pepper.

(Yes...I am wearing an old Geyser shirt. Rock!)

 For this I used 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tbsp dijon, salt/pepper. Just whisk the vinegar, honey & dijon together. Add a pinch of salt & some pepper. Taste it! Add more salt/pepper if needed. DONE!

I suggest investing in a squeeze bottle or two, I just label them with marker on scotch tape. I never buy salad dressing anymore now that I have learned how simple it is to make. It'll keep in the fridge for a while, so just bottle it up and use it all week - it's fantastic on regular old salads! I invented it while I was pregnant & craving balsamic vinegar. 

Ingredients for the pasta
1 package of Barilla Plus Spaghetti (or any other pasta you like...we like this one best b/c it has the best flavor & consistency for a high fiber pasta)

about 1/2 cup of olive oil (maybe less/maybe more depending on your pasta...spaghetti & angel hair need more than rigatoni or penne)

6 cloves of garlic...minced/pressed
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
Any other veggies you like sliced in a similar manner. 
kosher salt/pepper

Get a big pot on & get the water boiling. Slice the peppers & onions (and prepare any other veggies) - cook the pasta according to directions. 

Drain & leave in strainer for a minute. Take the same pan & cover the bottom with a decent quality olive oil. Add the veggies & get them sizzling. 

When they are nearly cooked, add in the pressed/minced garlic and let cook for a minute more. Toss in the pasta (you will need some good tongs) and dress with a bit more olive oil and a hearty bit of kosher salt & pepper (about a tbsp of salt & a tsp of pepper) - really get in there and toss it well. TASTE IT! 

It may need more salt. This is a lot of pasta and there isn't much going on in it, so you have to make sure that we can taste the garlic & pepper. DONE!

Ingredients for the Tomato Salad
2 ripe tomatoes or a pint of small tomatoes  (whatever is on sale)
Basil (if you have it...I did not tonight)
1 bunch green onions, sliced on a bias - OR thinly sliced red onion
good strong cheese - I'm using Grana Padano b/c it's what I have on hand - a little goes a long way when you splurge & get the imported cheese. Feta or parmagianno reggiano is fantastic also.
1/4 cup of the balsamic vinagrette
kosher salt/pepper

Dice the tomato, slice the green onions on a bias, combine. Shave (with a veggie peeler) or crumble in some good strong cheese. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Drizzle with vinagrette (about 1/2 of recipe) and toss.

I hope you all give this a shot. It's so simple yet so delicious. Very very very economical.
The kids will love it!

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