Patriot pasta salad

I’m thinking of June as “recover our finances” month. Also known as “live on the cheap” month. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that we’re celebrating our anniversary and both of our birthdays over the next five weeks, which means three dinners out, and I guess some presents or something. I also refuse to carry a credit card balance, especially since they jacked up my interest rates. So, I’ve set us up a complicated system of envelopes for receipts and a grocery budget of $40 a week. I wanted to cut it to $30, which represents a more than 50% reduction from our typical $75 or so a week, but Matt made a compelling argument that we had to live that way in college and when I was in graduate school and really shouldn’t have to now that we’re both gainfully employed. So, $40 it is.

The first meal of this experiment was a financial and gustatory success. Matt jokingly came up with the name when I was putting it together and pointed out that that it had the colors of the Italian flag. Okay, if I’m being honest, I had to confirm that with him. I’m just not good with flags. Plus, he lived in southern Switzerland for 5 years, so I defer to him on most things European.

red, white, and green

red, white, and green

Patriot Pasta Salad (serves 4)

you need:

  • 1.5 cups of cannellini or other white beans, cooked from dried (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
  • 3/4 lb of asparagus, cut diagonally into 3 inch slices
  • 1 serving of dried tomatoes (about 5 tomatoes), chopped
  • 9-10 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, rotini, etc)
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • red wine vinegar

and then you:

  1. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Add dried tomatoes and pasta to water.
  3. When the pasta is almost done, add the asparagus. You want it to be bright green and crisp, so don’t overcook it. Rubbery asparagus has no place in this pasta salad.
  4. Drain the pasta/tomatoes/asparagus. Fill the pot with cold water to stop the cooking process, and drain again.
  5. Put pasta in a serving dish. Add beans. Season with oregano to taste. Add a little olive oil and red wine vinegar, just a glug of each.
  6. Toss and serve.

I’m no stranger to pasta with white beans, though I usually add spinach and stewed tomatoes when I’m serving it hot. These flavors made the whole thing feel more late spring/early summer, and it makes for a great weeknight meal for a hot day. It takes less than 15 minutes of stovetop cooking, it’s light, and you eat it cold.

All that for…

1.5 c white beans @ .75
2/3 box of whole wheat penne @ 1.50/box = 1.00
1/5 bag of dried tomatoes @ 2.99/bag = .60
3/4 lb asparagus @ 2.99/lb = 2.24
and some pantry staples (red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano)

grand total = $4.59

That’s $1.15 a serving. And more math than I’ve done in months.

BAM. Welcome to lean-living June.

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