Monday, January 12, 2009

Cheap Eats – Recipes

I firmly believe in making a large enough batch of something then using the leftovers for dinner the next night. This recipe is made for this purpose. I serve this as a main dish. If the guys want meat I usually give them slices of a grilled chicken breast. Of course, I serve this with bread of some sort. Usually something on the day old bread rack or whatever I have handy.

Once again I adapted a recipe from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. I changed out some of the ingredients to less expensive, more available and less time consuming items.

Spaghetti with Eggplant, Cheese, and Tomato

1 large eggplant

Salt for eggplants

Vegetable oil for frying

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 can 28 ounces plum tomatoes, with juice

Freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped in small pieces – from garden or window sill

1 lb spaghetti

½ cup mild feta or coarsely grated ricotta salata cheese

½ cup grated pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese.

Serves 6 - Approximate cost $6.00

1. Cut the eggplant crosswise into slices ½ inch thick. Make a layer of slices on a baking cooling rack or colander and sprinkle with salt. Continue layering and sprinkling until all of the slices are used. Top with a plate and a heavy weight such as a pot. Place the colander/rake over a bowl, sink or baking sheet. Let stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices. Rinse off the salt and dry the slices with paper towels. This can be done a day ahead, placed in a ziptop bag with dry paper towels and placed in the freezer. *

2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, pour in oil to a depth of ½ inch. Add enough of the eggplant slices to make a single layer in the pan. Fry the slices, turning once, until tender and lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Continue until you are done with all the slices.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds longer. Be careful not to burn the garlic. YUK. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

4. Remove the sauce from the heat. Cut the eggplant into strips and stir them into the tomato sauce along with the basil.

5. While sauce in reducing cook pasta per the instructions. It should be al dente.

6. Drain the spaghetti and pout in large serving bowl. Add the sauce and the cheeses** and stir and toss well.

*Time Saver Tip: Over the weekend I salt & drain then store eggplant for use later in the week. I also bake a half dozen potatoes, make a batch of rice and a couple of pounds of pasta, boil a half dozen to a dozen eggs and bake scones, biscuits and cookies.

**I see nothing wrong with cutting back on the cheese a bit. A good substitute for the feta/ricotta cheese would be cottage cheese.

***Save any leftovers for lunches or minestrone soup the next day.

Quick Minestrone Soup

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.

2 baked potatoes, peeled and chopped – this is where baking them over the weekend comes in handy

2 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth

1 can beans, drained

Leftover eggplant pasta – roughly chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Serves few or many depending on what you toss in. - Approximate cost $2.00

1. In large saucepan sauté carrots and celery in the oil until soft. About 5 or 6 minutes.

2. Add stock or water and beans to saucepan. Heat through. About 3 or 4 minutes

3. Toss in potatoes, spinach, leftover eggplant and heat through.

*** You can add more or less water to adjust thickness. Also another can of tomatoes is a nice addition. You can never go wrong with more garlic and onion either.




  1. Girl! I'm on diet during the week and you're killing me! I am starving now!!!''I love soup! It's the drinkable lunch!

  2. This has been sent to Jamie and requested that he make it. Thanks! Yum.

  3. Yum on the spaghetti recipe - I'll have to figure out how to disguise the eggplant or Devoted Spouse will pick it out and ignore it. Cheers!

  4. CCG: If you use whole wheat pasta and cut out the cheese or use non-fat cottage cheese this recipe doesn't have all that many calories.

    Casey: I think you'll really like it.

    C&B: The eggplant sort of looks like olives when in the dish. He may not even know it's eggplant.

  5. Yum! Perfect for these cold wintry nights. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Now these are my kinds of recipes! They look great. And I do love to make enough for leftovers or plan-aheads. Thanks!

  7. I need to start printing everything off your archives and just putting them with my cookbooks. This looks so yummy!!!

  8. Cathy: Thanks

    Debbie: Make aheads are my specialty. Probably because I'm lazy.

    DeeMarie: If you check out the labels just under the about me I've grouped all the recipes together.

  9. Sammanthia: Stop in anytime. I don't bite (much or very hard).

  10. Nom nom nom!

    I make eggplant lasagne using thin slices of eggplant as the 'noodles'. Hubby (who has never met a vegetable he liked) wolfs it down.

  11. I love recipes!!!! Yay!!! These sound super yummy and I'm going to test them out!

  12. Great recipes--I love eggplant and pasta. I especially like eggplant parmigiana but I also want to cut calories and cost. I will try this one!