Burning Dinner One Garlic Toast at a Time
This evening my home is filled with that distinct aroma of burnt garlic bread. Without thinking, I was going to toss all of it in the trash, but my husband reminded me of the fact that it might not be an option for someone trying to stretch their grocery budget as far as they could. So, we salvaged the best pieces (the ones in the picture) and scraped the rest. Inside I felt defeated. The garlic toasts were the one thing that I was really looking forward to for dinner and they were ruined all because in keeping in step with this challenge and my commitment to abandon all of the “luxury” items in my kitchen I chose not to use my timer. Thankful this was not a dire mistake, but it did made me realize how important it would be to pay attention to what I was doing. In a real case scenario, one burnt meal could easily send someone to bed hungry especially if the item could not be salvaged and nothing else afforded. Almost as bad, would probably be the need to scrub a pot or pan so it would be fit for something more then the trash. I know I have planned and thought this menu out well enough that we should not feel hungry, but after tonight I am reminded of what a slippery slope poverty can be. I will definitely have to be more careful!
The inspiration for tonight’s dinner comes from something that we eat from time to time especially in the winter when it is too cold to go out and shop and we are rummaging through our pantry for dinner. It is quick, easy, nutritious, and until I crunched the numbers today, I really had no idea how inexpensive it was. The 15 minute prep time might be pushing it, because of the time it takes to boil water for pasta. However if you consider the fact that it will provide effortless leftovers for 2 more nights, I think you will agree, it is a perfect choice for this menu.
Recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Kidney Beans, Red Sauce, and Garlic Toasts
(Serves 6 or 2 or People for 2 nights with leftovers that can easily be frozen for a meal in the future)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove
2. Gather together 1 onion, 1 green bell pepper, 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1 box of whole wheat pasta, the large can of Delmonte Garlic and Herb Chunky Spaghetti Sauce, 1 can of kidney beans, 2 Tablespoons of butter, and some of the French bread. (By slicing the French bread into rounds as soon as you get home from the grocery store and storing it in a plastic bag in the freezer you will be able to extend its shelf life and make it more convenient to use.)
3. Chop up the garlic, onion, and green bell pepper and set aside. Be sure to reserve and set aside some of the garlic for the bread.
4. Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a med size pot over medium to medium high heat.
5. Toss in the garlic and coat with the butter until fragrant.
6. Add the onions and green pepper tossing them well with the garlic. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to low for 2 minutes. This will help soften the vegetables without the additional use of more butter.
7. Remove the lid from the pot and add the tomato sauce. Add a little bit of water to the can to swish out any remaining sauce. Do not worry about the addition of water as it will evaporate as the sauce simmers and not effect the recipe. Mix well and return cover to pot.
8. Hopefully at this point, the water for pasta is now at a full rolling boil and the pasta may be added to the pot. (Do not cover pasta pot with a lid as it will cause the pasta water to boil over. Trust me, this is not fun!) *Pasta will take approximately 10 minutes to cook.
9. Because canned goods contain a high amount of sodium I prefer to wash my beans in a strainer under cold water. If you like, you may avoid this step. Add them to the sauce at this point, mix well, and lower the heat if the sauce seems too bubbly.
10. As you wait on the pasta and sauce, lightly butter the French bread rounds, top them with the remaining garlic, and place them on a baking sheet or tin.
11. Set the oven to broil.
12. Drain the pasta, and toss it with the sauce while it is still hot.
13. Place the garlic toast under the broiler and stand there like a hawk or they will burn. Have a trivet, pot holder, or folded up dry towel ready because as soon as they smell yummy they are done. Leaving them in any longer will cause them to scorch!
*To make this recipe even more affordable and shave off some of the prep time, replace the garlic, onion, and green pepper with a can of diced tomatoes ($.48). Omit steps 3 -6, combine the sauce, tomatoes, and kidney beans in the medium pot and bring it to a low boil over medium low heat. However, you may still wish to chop up some garlic for the bread.
Total Cost for this meal = $3.93 (Roughly $.66 for dinner per person covering a total of 6 meals)