So this weekend, I inadvertantly wasted 30 minutes of my life watching Sandra Lee’s new show on the Food Network. It’s called “Money-Saving Meals.” It really should be called “Sandra Lee’s Trying-to-Make-Cheap-Meals-But-Really-If-You-Made-These-You’d-Be-Even-More-Poor-and-Probably-More-Fat Meals.”
Whew! Sorry. The people who know me, know that I am not particularly fond of Sandra Lee. I mean, seriously, the word “tablescape” never made its way into the English language until its unfortunate introduction on her show. And Sandra, I don’t care what you say, I’m not going to serve guacamole out of a miniature lawn chair. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
However, my beef with this show has less to do with her and more to do with the message of the show. Seriously, she didn’t make one single vegetable - unless you count potato chips as a vegetable. Also, her “cost” of each recipe is clearly calculated assuming that the average at-home cook is able to purchase 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish at the store for $0.32… this entire time I’ve been buying the whole jar! HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT THESE OPPORTUNITIES?
So, in the spirit of Recession-Friendly Recipes, I am sharing this pasta dish with you. It’s cheap, it’s good for you, and it’s quick. It’s made of win!
Note: I wish I had taken a better picture of acini di pepe. It is a kind of pasta that is small and round, that looks like couscous. If you’ve never seen couscous, then they look like little seeds or peppercorns. This dish is made to use acini di pepe, but if you can’t find that kind of pasta, use orzo (looks like rice) or any other small-ish shape of pasta. Heck, you could even use a large size pasta, but I would stay away from the spaghetti shapes… it might get messy.
Acini di Pepe with Spinach, Garlic, and Scallions
Adapted from Gourmet
- 1 lb acini di pepe pasta (can also use any other tiny pasta shape, such as orzo)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only, sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 16 oz chopped frozen spinach
- 1/2 cup feta
Follow package directions to cook pasta. When draining the pasta, either use a sieve (as I have in the picture below) or line your colander with paper towels. The pasta will only be the size of peppercorns when fully cooked, so ensure that the pasta won’t fall through the holes in your colander when you drain it.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in scallions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic and scallions are soft. Do not let the garlic burn.
Add frozen spinach directly to saute pan, and cook until spinach is heated through.
Empty drained pasta into saute pan, and stir to combine spinach mixture and pasta. Empty pasta and spinach mixture into serving dish, and add feta to dish. Serve immediately.