Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fast and Cheap and Oh SOOOO Good!

We went to Casteneda Bros' farmstand today and picked up some good, big heirloom tomatoes. They are way bigger than mine.

I wanted to make a good dinner, but cheap and fast, as it's the first of the month and that means rent comes before fancy dinners. So what to do when you want to make a nice dinner for three, but you have about ten dollars? In California, where meat is expensive--as well as everything else?

One fresh (picked today!) green pepper, sliced. That's it! Cost: 50 cents
Two top loin sirloin steaks, total weight, just under a pound. On sale at Safeway: $4

Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta
(I eyeballed all of this, so all measurements are approximate)

  • About two to three cups chopped, FRESH tomatoes
  • One big clove garlic, minced
  • Fresh basil, about 10 big leaves, gently chiffonaded (cut in thin strips)--be careful with basil because it gets damaged and bruised easily. Handle it as little as possible.
  • Approximately 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • Two to three tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (if you need some heat)
  • About 16 oz rugged pasta, like rigatoni or cappelletti

Put water on to boil, with olive oil and salt to taste. When boiling, add the pasta. As it cooks combine all other ingredients in a bowl, stir and taste for seasoning. Let sit. When pasta is al dente, drain well, but do not rinse. Add hot pasta to tomatoes, toss to coat.

Cost: Assuming you have the olive oil and other seasonings, about $4.

Here's an interesting pasta recipe site:

Steak Marinade

  • Two cloves garlic
  • About 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fresh basil, about 2 tablespoons, chopped

Blend in a food processor. Then marinate steaks in a glass bowl for approximately 10 minutes.

I seared the steaks in an iron pan at high heat, treated with olive oil first. I cooked on both sides quickly, then deglazed the pan with about 1/4 cup red wine.

We enjoyed this dinner with homemade bread and fresh, local honey (cost: $5.50).

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