We cook up 1 lb. of our favorite “big” pasta noodles–rotini or penne. My current fave is the Ronzoni Smart Taste brand. It has extra fiber, but it doesn’t taste gritty or as heavy as whole wheat pasta. You can buy it at Walmart for $1.25 or at Kroger for $1.50.
While the pasta is cooking in well-salted water, I open up a can of kidney beans, rinse and drain.
As soon as the pasta is cooked to our liking, I drain it and pour it into a bowl. Meanwhile, I pour my 1/3 c. olive oil into the pasta pot and heat it up a bit–then I add the garlic and parsley to the pan. If the kiddos can handle it, it is so nice to add a few flakes of red pepper as well. I will cook the garlic just long enough so that it starts to get soft and mellow out, but I don’t want to brown the garlic because it will taste bitter. A very few minutes will do. When all that is just right, I pour it over the pasta, add the can drained beans, and grate fresh parmesan cheese all over the top. The Butter Girl in the house is delighted when I supplement with a little butter. Season with pepper.
The cost: $1.25 for pasta, pennies for garlic and the seasonings, a couple quarters for olive oil, .80 for a can of beans, not more than $1 for the parmesan. Add another couple $ for your veggie of choice. TOTAL: $5
If you have never used freshly grated parmesan, I beg of you to try it. It may change how you cook.