First, let me start with an apology for my recent absence. I have been trying to get the house in order, and doing lots of holiday activities with Laura, our 2 year old. Also, I must admit that my couponing has been taking up the majority of my free time. Since I haven't been on in a while, I will share with you one of the ultimate frugal recipes.
Dried beans are a great way to stretch your food dollar! They are super inexpensive and the one pound bag takes the place of several (about 4 or 5) cans of beans. Some people are intimidated by dried beans because of the work involved. There is nothing to it, and it is well worth the nearly 80% savings you can get just by planning a little ahead. The night before you want to cook your beans you need to soak them. To do this, you just get a pan that has a tight fitting lid. Pour beans into your hand in small quantities, check for small pebbles (it happens) and 'bad' beans, and pour into the pan. Once you have the amount of beans you need, add enough water to cover the beans by several inches. Cover the pan and leave it alone until the next morning.
The next day, take your pan and put it on medium heat, lid still in place. Do not add salt or other seasonings at this point, but you may add any meat you would like in your beans (for the Pasta Fazool recipe, we do not add any meat). Cook for several hours until tender, turning down to med-low after an hour or two until tender. Your beans do not have to be floating in water, but they do need to be covered with water during the whole process or they will dry out again.
For Pasta Fazool, we use cannellini or great northern beans. After the beans are tender, you could pull out your 2 cups of beans, and season the rest to be eaten as a side dish later on in the week.
Pasta Fazool- a.k.a Pasta Fagioli or Pasta and Beans
2-3 cups cooked cannellini or great northern beans (or 1-2 cans of beans)
1 rib celery, finely chopped or minced
2-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil
2-4 cups peeled, seeded and chopped or 2 cans of tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup water
Bell pepper, hot shot, crushed red pepper flakes, or other source of heat to your taste
8 oz spaghetti, broken into 1 inch pieces
Cook the celery and garlic (and pepper if you are using whole raw peppers) in olive oil in a large sauce pot over moderate heat. When garlic is golden, add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened
Add the beans and some of their cooking liquid (or canned beans un-drained). Bring the mixture to a simmer, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon.
Stir in the pasta and cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente or to desired tenderness. The mixture should be very thick, but more water can be added if you like a thinner dish.
This recipe is a great way to change up your pasta night! It is also much cheaper than making meat sauce for your spaghetti. This recipe has been husband and two year old tested and approved.