pasta mushroom

photo by framboise
Affordable pasta is a staple in any frugal pantry. With so many types and recipes available, you could eat it throughout the year and not grow tired of it. Pasta is versatile and can be made elegant even on a budget. Ever serve pasta that didn't seem quite right for your recipe? Shaped and heavier pastas are best with heavy or chunky sauces, and thinner pastas are best paired with lighter sauces. Next time you want pasta, try something new.

Pasta Medley

1 pound pasta (linguine, tagliatelle, penne, etc)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cups tomatoes, chopped, or large can of diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, chopped or sliced
4 cups spinach leaves, packed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pinch red-pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, or feta cheese for added flavor

Boil pasta in water according to package directions. Cook al dente. Drain. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook until softened. Mix in tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and spinach. Season with salt, pepper and red-pepper flakes. Cook until heated through and spinach wilts. Mix in pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta on top before serving. -- Kim, e-mail

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 to 8 ounces angel-hair pasta
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a pan, saute garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat. As they begin to soften, add mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are softened. Add chicken broth and wine, and cook until mixture reduces to half initial volume. Blend in cream, and continue to cook to desired thickness. Stir in chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, and toss with sauce until coated. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley before serving. -- Rochelle G., Michigan

Spaghetti Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, sweet and mild, casings removed
1 pound ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
3 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine
1 pound thin spaghetti
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

In large pot, add olive oil. Put heat on medium high, and add onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, sausage and ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up the sausage. Continue stirring until vegetables are softened and meats are browned. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Add basil, oregano, parsley, brown sugar, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Stir in red wine. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for 1-1/2 hours. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. -- Dina K., e-mail