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Use a favorite frugal ingredient

By on February 24, 2010

photo by erin.kkr

Pasta is a frugal staple. It’s economical and easy to prepare, and its versatility makes it a budget-friendly favorite. You can serve it hot or cold, make a meal for one or a big crowd, and dress it up for an elegant meal or toss together as a casual dish. Plus, there are so many types of pasta and recipes that it never has to be boring. Here are three recipes to add to your meal possibilities.

Slow Cooker Pasta Fagioli

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
1 jar (16-1/2 ounces) pasta sauce
4 cups beef broth
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup dry pasta, to add at end of cooking time

Use a large slow cooker, or cut the recipe in half. Brown the meat on the stovetop and drain well. Let it cool a bit. Chop up the onion, carrots and celery. Add them to the empty slow cooker. Drain and rinse the beans, and add them. Add the tomatoes and the pasta sauce. Add the beef broth. Add the salt, pepper, oregano and Tabasco sauce. Stir in the meat. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the dry pasta. Cover and cook for another hour on low, or until the pasta is tender. It will swell quite a bit. — Bella, Iowa

Easy Gnocchi

1 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg
2 cups flour

Mix and knead ingredients into a ball. Shape portions into snakes and cut into half-inch pieces. Drop pieces into boiling, salted water. Cook for 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top. Delicious with red, white or cheese sauces, or primavera. — Constance, New Jersey

Springtime Spaghetti

2 medium squash, 1 yellow and 1 green, cut into thin 2-inch matchsticks
2 medium carrots, cut into thin 2-inch matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons margarine, divided
8 ounces spaghetti
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup milk
3/4 pounds cooked shrimp
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt

In skillet, cook veggies and garlic in the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the margarine until tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Get your pasta cooking, and while it is, add remaining margarine to skillet and melt. Stir in flour, cook for a minute, and slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until slightly thickened. Add veggies, shrimp, cheese and salt, cooking to heat it all through. Drain pasta, toss all together and serve. Cook’s note: You can also make this with cooked chicken instead of shrimp, but the pink of the shrimp and the colors of the vegetables remind me of springtime. Or use a mix of the two. You may need to add a bit more milk if it is too thick. — Darlene, New York


  1. Daynna

    2/26/2010 at 7:40 pm

    My family loves gnocchi. I did not realize it was this simple to make. We normally purchase it at Big Lots for $1 a pack. I think it is so much cheaper to make with your recipe for Easy Gnocchi. I can’t wait to try it.


  2. Yasmine

    3/2/2010 at 12:29 pm

    MMhh, love pasta! You can always make a quick sauce to pour over a bowl of hot pasta from the ingredients you have in your pantry and fridge, my favorite comfort food! I learned how to make gnocchi from my mom. I use 2 parts of potatoes with 1 part of flour for nice and soft gnocchis.
    .-= Yasmine´s last blog ..Make Your Own ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ Poster For Free =-.

  3. connie matthews

    3/6/2010 at 3:50 pm

    dear sara, This is the most wonderful fagolli i’ve ever made. My daughter who loves fagolli concured.In fact she said this was the best soup I’ve ever made, and I make a lot of them. I will make it again & again. Thank you. cm wa

  4. connie matthews

    3/7/2010 at 8:18 pm

    Sara, I found the 30 min. chicken noodle soup recipe in taste of home. Please look no further. Thank you so much for your concern, and thank you for the Fagioll soup. It was delicious. CM

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