It’s Spinach Week here at Kitchen Stewardship! I get to share one of our family’s favorite recipes today.
The first indication that it’s a winner is that Kraft Food and Family Magazine publishes it at least once a year, sometimes more.
Second is that my son always asks for seconds (he’s a good eater, but he likes to get to dessert most of the time and doesn’t waste time with seconds…which is why his pants are always falling down!). Finally, when I served the leftovers to a friend, she immediately asked for the recipe, and we joke about how often we both make it. It’s truly a go-to meal when you’re not sure what else to make.
If you forget the Parmesan cheese like I often do, there are only 5 ingredients, so you can do it from memory without searching for the recipe. Gotta love that!
- 2 c. uncooked short pasta
- ½ lb. hot or mild Italian sausage, or try making homemade sausage
- 7 c. (6 oz.) baby spinach leaves (about half a bag or box, or as much as you can fit in your skillet)
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta as directed on package.
- Meanwhile, crumble meat into large skillet and cook through, stirring occasionally.
- Drain grease.
- Add spinach and tomatoes.
- Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally.
- Drain pasta and add to meat mixture.
- Add cheeses and mix lightly.
Click here to see ideas to use up the rest of the bag of spinach so you don’t waste!
Cost: $2.50-4.30, depending on organic vs. conventional spinach and your meat selection. Just add salad and garlic toast for a complete meal!
Super foods: 2 (or up to five if you do some of the upgrades below!)
- Use whole wheat pasta instead of white – lots more nutrition, but more $ as well
- Use ground turkey with sausage seasoning (directions here) instead of sausage; from pastured turkeys even better, or grass-fed ground beef works fine with Italian sausage seasoning
- Make your own Italian diced tomatoes (I had to learn to do this when I avoided all white sugar for 40 days)
“Homemade” Italian Diced Tomatoes
- 1 can regular diced tomatoes, undrained (if you’re canning this summer’s bounty, what an amazing meal summer tomatoes would make in this dish!)
- olive oil
- a few cloves garlic (depending on your mood, I used 3 last time)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp basil
- ½ tsp parsley
- pinch rosemary
- 1 tsp molasses (blackstrap adds iron)
Saute the garlic in olive oil for a minute, right with the already cooked and seasoned meat in this recipe. Add the molasses and stir so that it coats the meat, then the tomatoes and all the spices. Proceed with instructions for meal.
If you follow all the upgrades, you get 4 super foods (adding olive oil, turkey and fresh garlic), but you also end up with 16 ingredients instead of 5! Yowza! Make your choices wisely so you don’t burn out – not everything has to be homemade “from scratch!”
What to do with the rest of the meat?
One of the reasons I love this recipe is that it allows me to stretch my meat budget (one pound for two meals). But what about another recipe with half a pound of meat, since you usually have to thaw the whole thing?
- Spaghetti with ½ pound of meat, or ½ pound plus an equal amount cooked lentils or pinto beans
- Sloppy joes with ½ pound of meat and equal amount cooked lentils
- Sausage patties for breakfast with your eggs
- Add another pound of meat and make tacos
- Add a few pounds of meat for meatloaf
- Try your favorite ground meat casserole with just ½ a pound (but not if your husband’s FAVorite meal is lasagna!)
- Use less meat (or make half a batch) in a recipe like Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup, Sausage Zucchini Bake, Turkey Chili, or…
- Add meat to a recipe like Cuban Black Beans and Rice or Tuscan Bean Soup
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