Tonight I was craving beef for dinner, which is crazy because I hardly ever eat red meat these days. So I walked into Trader Joe's to grab the ingredients for a meat sauce when I saw the most beautiful yellow local zucchini. I knew then and there that I must have it! But how to eat it?...
Why with pasta of course! I love adding zucchini into my pasta dishes. They help bulk up the nutrition, plus, since they have such a light flavor, they don't really alter the flavor of the sauce. Win win! Although, I actually like to eat zucchini raw, so I may be a bit biased....
What do I love about this dish?
1.) I made it with local fresh ingredients.
2.) I spent less than $4 (see my calculations below).
3.) It took me less than 30 minutes to make.
4.) I got to use my fun-shaped orecchiette pasta (aren't they the cutest?!)
Orecchiette & Zucchini in Meat Sauce
Servings: 2 larger dinner servings, 3 medium lunch servings
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 1/4 cup (or a heaping cup) dry orecchiette pasta
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into quarter moons
- 1/2 jar marinara sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt & pasta, then cook according to the directions. I like my pasta very al dente so I cooked mine for 9 minutes instead of the recommended 12. Drain and set aside.
- TIP: orecchiette pasta likes to stick together due to the shape of the pasta. To try to avoid that, stir continuously for 30 seconds after adding the pasta to the water.
- While the water is coming to a boil, chop the garlic and toss it into a large skillet with the olive oil. Heat on medium high heat until fragrant then add the meat. Separate the beef with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until there is no red color to the meat.
- Add zucchini and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes or until softened. If you like your veggies more well done, cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the marinara sauce and the drained pasta, then cook until heated. Check the seasoning and you're good to go! I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top of mine to finish it off.
Cost of my Dinner
When I do my calculations I don't include pantry items. This includes things like seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs, etc), garlic, oil (olive, coconut, sesame), soy sauce, dry pasta, rice, flour, etc. This is because all of these items are minimal cost in the total of the recipe, especially cooking for one.
$1.845, ground beef - $3.69 per pound; I used half a pound and put the rest in the freezer
$0.645, marinara sauce - $1.29 per jar; I used half in the recipe and put the rest in my fridge for later
$0.25, orecchiette pasta - $0.99 per bag; I used approximately 1/4 of a bag
Total cost of tonight's pasta dish - $3.58
Price per serving (3) - $1.18
That's cheaper than fast food! Isn't being a Graduate Gourmet fun??
This recipe may seem too simple to be gourmet, but some of the best dishes simply enhance the ingredients so that they can shine. I really wanted beef tonight, and this recipe let the meat take the lead. Plus I get to enjoy it for two more meals...how yummy will this be tomorrow?!