Fresh Tomato and Herb Pasta: Feed a family of four for about $11

We got a new puppy this week (who is absolutely adorable), so after getting up a few times each night with him and spending a lot of time carrying him into the backyard, I wanted to make a quick dinner. This evening I decided to make a fresh tomato and herb pasta with a simple side salad. After spending less than 15 minutes to make the entire dinner, I realized that in addition to the meal being quick, it was had also cost me less than $11 to feed my family of four (really!).

The tomato and herb pasta uses fresh grape tomatoes, basil and parsley, along with some olive oil, garlic and nonfat milk. The combination of the tomatoes and herbs gave the sauce a clean sweet flavor, while the milk added some creaminess.

The salad was straightforward to make, with a light and lemony flavor. I also used homemade croûtons, which were essentially just toasted pieces of day-old baguette with olive oil and salt, to add some crunch.

The pasta was tasty and filling, while the salad’s lemony flavor and crisp croûtons accompanied it nicely. Here are the prices of the ingredients along with the recipes. I hope you enjoy this quick, healthy, and inexpensive dinner soon.

Fresh Tomato and Herb Pasta

1/2 pound Capellini pasta (~$1.00)
1 large package grape tomatoes ($2.69 at Trader Joe’s)
3 garlic cloves smashed with a knife (~$.50)
1 small handful of fresh Italian parsley chopped ($1.00 for a bouquet at the farmer’s market)
1 small handful of fresh basil chopped ($1.00 for a bouquet at the farmer’s market)
2 Tbsp olive oil (not sure about the price for only 2 Tbsp)
1/2 cup milk (less than $.50)
Salt and pepper to taste
Top each plate with a little Parmesan cheese (~$1.00)

1. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta until it’s al dente.
2. In a large frying pan, cook tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and herbs until the tomatoes soften (about 3 – 5 minutes).
3. Blend the tomato mixture with the half cup of milk in a blender and then add everything back in the pan. Simmer covered until pasta is ready.

4. Add pasta to the pan, covering all the noodles with the sauce.
5. Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Simple Green Salad with Lemon Dressing

1/2 head of green lettuce cleaned and dried (~$1.50)
1/2 cup of fresh croûtons (~$.50)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (~$.50)
1/4 cup fresh olive oil (~$.50)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut about a 1/4 of a fresh or day-old baguette into 1/4-inch slices. Cover with a sprinkling of olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 3-5 minutes (or until toasted).
2. Place cut up lettuce in a bowl along with the croûtons.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Top the lettuce and croûtons with the dressing and serve.


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