I had all the right intentions, but life just got in the way yesterday. But that's okay, because any day is the right day for a frugal meal.
Going meatless is a sure way to keep a meal within budget. In my family a favorite meatless meal is minestrone. I haven't figured it out yet, but my meat-loving guys love it!
Minestrone is an Italian vegetable soup and is a great way to clean-out-the-fridge and makes an affordable meal. There are tons of recipes that use a variety of ingredients. Martha Stewart alone has a few variations including a Classic Style and her Autumn Minestrone (which seem mixed up to me because her Classic seems more Autumn and her Autumn feels more classic ??).
Most recipes have three constants: a tomato broth, beans and pasta. The differences come with the types of vegetables that are added.
For me, it's was clean out refrigerator (and freezer) day which is good since Minestrone is also one of the recipes that doesn't need exact measurements.
I started by sauteing a diced onion in some olive oil. I would have used celery, but that wasn't in the fridge. After the onion was softened I added diced carrot and sliced mushrooms. I cook those until the mushrooms were fairly soft. Then I added two small cans (14.5 oz ea) of diced tomatoes and three cans of water. I also added some dried herbs: basil, oregano, parsley and a couple shakes of hot red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper was also added.
While the soup simmered, I boiled a small pan of water and added a couple handfuls of Orecchiette pasta (those are those cute hat-shaped pasta). I always cook my pasta separate from the soup to keep it from getting gummy (the soup, that is). I also drained and rinsed a small can of cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans).
After the broth and veggies cooked for about 40 minutes, I added green beans and broccoli from the freezer (and I still haven't emptied those partial bags - UGG!) I cooked the soup for another 10 minutes or so and then added the beans and pasta. Five minutes later, it was ready to eat.
With the sprinkle of a little Parmesan cheese and French Bread, we called it dinner.
The bread was probably the most expensive part of the meal. In all, I have to say this was another less than $5.00 dinner. And my guys ate it up!
Do you have a go-to minestrone recipe or do you just wing it! I'd love to hear what you have to say!