Sunday, June 26, 2011

Very Veggie Creamy Summer Pasta

In trying to dream up new ways to use up some plain, unsweetened yogurt plus make use of the summery veggies I found on sale, a creamy tomato-based pasta dish popped into my head, and this is the result. It's fairly light for a pasta with sauce, as I try to go heavy on the vegetables and a bit lighter on the pasta.

As usual, it's a recipe with options for your tastes and budget. If you don't/can't do dairy, leave out the yogurt, and you will still have an amazing dish. If you don't care for the vegetables I used or find different ones on sale, use what you like--carrots, broccoli, asparagus, etc. The pasta can be a big variable here--I am slowly switching my pasta stash over to mostly quinoa pasta (which is gluten-free), but you could use brown rice pasta (also gluten-free) or whole wheat pasta, organic or non-organic. I used whole wheat tonight since I have a few boxes left. I prefer a penne pasta for this recipe, but you can use any variety/shape. I hadn't realized the crushed tomatoes I grabbed already contained basil, so I didn't need to add the basil this time. The tomatoes are organic and were on sale for the same price as the non-organic. As in my previous post, my real splurge here was an organic red bell pepper, which I had to buy in a package of two for $5.00. The non-organic variety were on sale for the lowest I had ever seen them, $.77 each, so that would have really dropped my bottom line, though I am content where I'm at. I only used garlic from the garden today, but when my tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, yellow squash, onion and zucchini are ready to harvest, this will be a ridiculously cheap recipe for me!

Very Veggie Creamy Summer Pasta

4 - 6 oz dry pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups eggplant, peeled and diced (about 8 oz by weight)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced/diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 - 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
4 - 6 fresh basil leaves, torn (or 1 tsp dried)
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Optional: red pepper flakes to taste

Step 1: Place diced eggplant in a colander, place colander over a large bowl or in the sink, and sprinkle eggplant generously with salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. This will draw out a brownish liquid and get rid of the bitter taste eggplant can have. Rinse very thoroughly to remove salt and pat dry.

Step 2: Begin preparing pasta according to package directions. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini and squash. Saute for 3-5 minutes.

Step 3: Add pasta, basil and crushed tomatoes to vegetable mixture in the skillet. Heat through, remove from heat, stir in yogurt, do a quick taste for seasoning and serve.


Whole Wheat Penne: $1.22/box, used 1/3 box = $.41
Eggplant: On sale for $.88/lb, used 8 oz = $.44
Zucchini: On sale for $1.19/lb, used a 5 oz zucchini = $.37
Yellow squash: On sale for $1.19/lb, used a 7 oz squash = $.52
Red bell pepper (organic) = $2.50
Mushrooms: 8 oz package white buttons on sale = $1.00
Red onion: $.75/lb, used a 5 oz onion = $.23
Crushed tomatoes w/ basil (organic): On sale for $1.99/28 oz can, used 1/2 =$1.00

Total Cost: $6.47
Six Servings: $1.08 per serving

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