Today I bring you five simple pasta recipes to try on a budget
You don’t need to be an experienced chef to make a delicious bowl of pasta. In fact, anyone can cook up a simple pasta dish without going to too much effort. What’s even better is that it’s an incredibly versatile ingredient — pasta can be meaty or veggie, covered in light tomato-based sauces or a creamy base, and garnished with helpings of cheese, herbs and seasonings.
Five simple pasta recipes to try on a budget
You also don’t need to worry if your kids are fussy eaters, because there are pasta dishes to satisfy even the pickiest of children. Pasta is always a winner at the dinner table, and since a packet of your favourite carb can cost as little as 50p, it’s also naturally budget-friendly. To help you cook delicious meals for you and the family, here are five simple pasta recipes for you to try.
1. Fresh tagliatelle with aubergines, tomato and basil
Tagliatelle is a safe bet in the kitchen, as it’s particularly quick and easy to make. It’s also budget-friendly meaning you can cook for the whole family without leaving a dent in your wallet.
For this dish, you will need:
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large aubergines, cut into discs 1cm thick
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- Pinch of dried chili flakes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 250g fresh or dried egg tagliatelle
- 75g pecorino cheese, grated
Heat five tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine discs in batches until they appear light golden on the outside and soft all the way through. When each batch is cooked, place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Heat the remaining oil, add the garlic, and cook until softened. Then, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, simmering until the liquid has reduced by half. Next, cut the fried aubergines into 2cm strips and mix into the tomato sauce, along with the basil, dried chili and seasoning.
Cook the tagliatelle until al dente. For true al dente perfection, the experts at Pasta Evangelists recommend boiling fresh tagliatelle in generously salted water for approximately 3-4 minutes. Drain the pasta, not forgetting to reserve a little water, which chef and TV personality Lidia Bastianich says acts as a medium to extract and blend the seasonings and sauce ingredients. Then place the pasta in the sauce and toss well, adding spoonfuls of the reserved water to loosen up the sauce if necessary. Cook the mixture gently for a few minutes, then serve with grated pecorino and black pepper.
2. Leftover veggie pasta
This dish is perfect for a healthy midweek meal, as well as being a fantastic way of using up any leftover veg in your kitchen, saving you another trip to the supermarket.
You will need:
- 150g penne pasta
- Leftover roasted vegetables, like aubergine, pepper, onion and butternut squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 3 tbsp ricotta cheese
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated
- 100g Roquefort cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Sourdough for the croûtons
First, brush your sourdough slices with oil, cut them into squares, then pan-fry until crisp, before putting them to one side. Cook the pasta in a pan of salted, boiling water, according to the packet instructions. When cooked, drain and keep a little of the water. Then, fry the roasted vegetables in oil until warmed through, and add thyme leaves. Remove from the heat and gently stir through the ricotta cheese and lemon zest, and mix with the pasta and reserved water to loosen it up. Finally, crumble three-quarters of the Roquefort cheese, stir, and season with black pepper. To serve, spoon into bowls, crumbling in the remaining cheese, and garnish with croûtons.
3. Spaghetti carbonara
Pasta carbonara is a heavenly creamy pasta dish that all the family will enjoy. This traditional recipe is simple to make, requiring just a few basic ingredients.
You will need:
- 150g quorn bacon, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
- ½ a onion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 100g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Pinch of sea salt and grind of black pepper
- 400g spaghetti
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 150ml single cream
- 50g parmesan, finely grated
- 1 sprig of parsley leaves, finely chopped.
In a dry pan, cook the bacon until crispy, then set aside. Using the same pan, fry the garlic and onion in a tablespoon of sunflower oil until soft and translucent, and set these aside too. Next, fry the mushrooms until cooked through, then season with salt and pepper and take the pan off the heat. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water, according to the packet’s instructions, until al dente.
While the pasta cooks, combine the egg yolks, cream and parmesan in a bowl with salt and pepper, and mix well. Drain the pasta and place back in the saucepan with olive oil, along with the egg yolk mixture. Then add the bacon, garlic, onion and mushrooms, using tongs to distribute the ingredients. To serve, sprinkle with black pepper, and finish with parsley and extra parmesan.
4. Spinach gnocchi
This recipe is simple, delicious, and can be made in just 15 minutes. The spinach is a cheap way of adding nutrients and flavour to a meal, and with just a few other ingredients, you can whip up a storm on a budget.
You will need:
- 125g spinach
- A splash of oil
- A dash of butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ½ a lemon
- 400g gnocchi
To start, melt some butter in a large frying pan and add the gnocchi. Fry until it becomes golden brown on each side, then throw in the garlic and spinach leaves, remembering to keep the ingredients moving in the pan to prevent them from burning or sticking. Continue frying for 3-5 minutes, or until the spinach has started to wilt and the gnocchi is crispy. To serve, sprinkle some parmesan and season with black pepper.
5. Creamy chorizo penne
Quick and cheap to prepare, this recipe is bursting with tasty flavours. Give it an extra kick of spice with some more dried chilli if you wish, or bulk it out with some chopped button mushrooms.
You will need:
- ½ a quorn sausage sliced
- 125g spinach
- 3 tbsp of crème fraîche
- Sprinkling of parsley
- 400g penne pasta
- Parmesan to finish
In a boiling pan of salted water, cook the penne according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a small amount of oil or butter for around five minutes, turning occasionally. Then add the spinach, and keep stirring to help it wilt. You may need to cook the spinach in small amounts to prevent it from taking up too much space in the pan. Drain the pasta and add the chorizo and spinach mix, then combine with the crème fraîche, and season with a little salt and pepper. To finish, spoon into bowls, and sprinkle the chopped parsley and grated parmesan over the top.
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