Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recipe: Caprese Salad

Recently I did something I would consider pretty stellar: I got two weeks of groceries with one weeks grocery budget.
It was amazing.
I stood there at the check out counter with baited breath, watching the total add up, just hoping it would ring up at least 1 cent under the 100 I had decided to try to stretch twice as far as it normally does. Not for any big reason other than my life is boring and playing games with myself in the grocery store is a source of entertainment for me these days.
Anyway, when the total popped up $98.76, I almost cried.

One of the things I attribute to my success was when I planned my menu, I planned in 3 meatless meals.
Meat, in any form, be it fish, chicken, beef or sausage-basically any food with a face-is getting higher and high in price it's unbelievable!
So, three of the 14 meals I planned would be meatless, and I think I saved at least 20 bucks by just doing those three meals that way.

One of the meatless dinners I planned was Caprese pasta.
Bill and I love Caprese, and we find excuses to make it as often as possible. It's delicious, it's good for you {except the cheese, but who's counting} and in hot summers it's so refreshing it's ridiculous.
So, I figured why not throw it in some pasta with butter and Parmesan and call it a meal?
So I did.

What You Need:

About 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese {by fresh I just mean the softer stuff, not the shredded or block stuff they sell at the stores. Look for those squishy balls of it in the produce/deli section}
1 carton cherry tomatoes {firm ones are better}
1 box of your favorite pasta {we like Rotini}
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Minced Garlic
Butter and Parmesan cheese.

This is so easy it's hardly even a recipe, but here you go:

Cube up about 1 cup of mozzarella-or really however much you want. We're cheese people, so I did more. Heat some olive oil in a skillet with a little minced garlic. Throw the tomatoes in and rip up the basil. Throw that in too. Mix it up and add a splash of Balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper {sea sea and cracked pepper are best} Let that saute/simmer until the tomatoes are soft {but not mushy} and hot. Remove from burner and cover until your noodles are done.
When the noodles are done, drain but don't rinse, and then add a couple good heaping tablespoons of butter {or some olive oil, whatever you like} and mix it up until the butter melts.
Douse with Parmesan cheese and toss until the noodles are lightly coated {this is more to taste, however much cheese you want}.
Now throw in your tomato/Basil mixture and as much chunked up mozzarella as you want, and enjoy!
We ate this with piping hot garlic bread since I didn't think I'd get the kids to eat this, plus more veggies in a salad.

In case you're wondering how much this meal cost:
Pasta: %1.00
Tomatoes: $2.00
Cheese: On sale for $2.50
Basil: .97 cents
Garlic bread: 1.99
Parmesan cheese: $1.77, which will probably last another 20 meals, easily.
Total: $10.23
$1.70 per serving 

It fed all three of us once, and there are plenty of left overs for a second meal for each of us which makes it a six serving meal at least.
This was the most expensive meal we planned for the two weeks of groceries we bought, but considering it made enough for two meals, I'd consider it about average per serving with all the other meals.

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