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Recession-proof pasta recipes

By on April 8, 2009

photo by Sam Felder

Incorporate pasta into your weekly menu plan. It’s affordable and versatile. Change up your routine by using different pasta shapes, too. Prevent sticky pasta by using the right size pan, plenty of water and a few quick stirs while cooking. Once it’s cooked, don’t rinse the pasta. Not rinsing helps your sauce stick. Rinse for use in cold pasta salads to prevent it from getting mushy. Pasta recipes are easily doubled, too, so you can place an additional meal in the freezer for later. If you’re reheating it in the microwave, heat individual portions rather than all at once for more even heat distribution.
Here are three delicious pasta recipes. Enjoy!

Penne with Sausage

2-1/4 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Crumble sausage into a nonstick skillet. On medium heat, add onion and green pepper. Cook and stir until sausage is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, garlic, herbs and cayenne. In a small bowl, combine flour and milk until smooth; stir into sausage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Drain pasta; toss with sausage mixture. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Optional: Make low fat by using whole-wheat pasta, turkey sausage, no-salt broth and reduced-fat milk and cheeses. You can add in shredded zucchini, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach or diced eggplant, too. — Michelle S., Massachusetts

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

6 cups uncooked bow-tie pasta
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package (6-1/2 ounces) garlic-and-herb soft, spreadable cheese (such as Alouette)
1/4 cup chicken broth, plus a splash

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Saute mushrooms and onion in butter. Add in garlic and a splash of chicken broth to prevent burning. Salt and pepper to desired taste. Add soft cheese and rest of chicken broth, and cook until melted. Add pasta to skillet. Toss to coat. — Emily D., Colorado

Veggie-Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped cooked spinach
8 big leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1 tub (16 ounces) of small-curd cottage cheese
1 egg
salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning to taste
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
4 to 6 ounces shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cook the pasta shells until al dente. Drain all the veggies as much as possible. In a bowl, mix the carrots, zucchini, spinach, basil, Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, egg and spices. Stir until well combined. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, pour enough pasta sauce just to lightly cover the bottom. Fill the shells with the veggie mixture, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all are filled. You may have some extra pasta. Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the top, and spread out evenly. Bake until nice and bubbly. Top with mozzarella, and bake until melted. — Angela, California

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