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Cheesy Peasy Penne

 This recipe was spontaneously a very appropriate meal. I had it planned for lunch last week but it got pushed back. So it was planned for today (I had ricotta to use up). Then I ended up getting 8 boxes of Healthy Harvest and Smart Taste pasta (4 each) for like .58 each. I stock up on whole grain pasta whenever I can find it on sale for under $1 a box (which is roughly the price of non-whole grain "budget" pasta). It proves that you can eat healthy on a budget. You don't even have to coupon- Walmart's store brand of whole wheat pasta is usually $1 a box. Of course, their selection of pasta shapes isn't great. So I stocked up today on shapes the generic brand doesn't carry- lasagna noodles and elbows.

Not that I needed more pasta- I had enough to make the penne for lunch today. I just thought it was a happy coincidence.

This is adapted from a kid friendly recipe I found in an issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray a while back (can't remember the month- I lost the recipe and have been making/adapting from memory for a while... probably good for me to get it down now).
Pasta with ricotta and peas.

Cheesy Peasy Penne
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 box whole wheat penne
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

Bring a pot of water to boil for your pasta. While waiting for it to boil, put the frozen peas in a small sauce pan and fill with water so the peas are just covered (the original recipe called for chicken broth, but I don't notice a taste difference without it...). Then add the minced garlic, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Simmer for about as long as it takes the pasta to cook. Just before the pasta is done, mash as many of the peas as you can with the back of a large spoon (just roughly mashed- your goal is to have 1/2 of the peas mashed.

Once both the pasta and peas are cooked, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the mashed pea mixture, liquid and all. (your burner should be off at this point... but if you feel you need to aid your cheese a tad in melting, turn it to low, just be careful not to scorch the cheese!) Stir in the ricotta, parmasean, and italian seasoning and stir everything together until well mixed.
I threw this together on a busy preschool day after working out. I was STARVING and cranky. This is fast enough for a good lunch, but we have it for dinner sometimes too.

Check out more frugal meals at this week's $5 Dinner Challenge, from $5 Dinners.

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