Cold weather dishes

After a beautiful spring-like day spent in the garden on Sunday, another front is arriving today to remind us it is still winter, after all.  I have been shopping from the pantry and playing with inexpensive cold weather recipes lately, and it’s likely that some of these will be on the table during the next couple of days. They all make big batches to feed a family or to enjoy over a couple of days, as we do. Freezing for later is a good alternative.

Penne with ground beef and broccoli greens

Penne pasta, ground beef, tomatoes and broccoli greens make a flavorful, healthy, and inexpensive dish.

Penne pasta, ground beef, tomatoes and broccoli greens make a flavorful, healthy, and inexpensive dish.

1 package (1#) penne pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (28 oz) can good quality diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 large bunch broccoli greens (or any greens of your choice), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (or asiago, pecorino, mozzarella…)

Cook pasta al dente in salted water. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in the oil until they are soft and fragrant. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper and simmer until tomatoes start to dissolve, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add greens and parsley, stir, check seasoning and cover. Simmer for about 10 minutes more and remove from heat. Add pasta and mix well. Toss in cheese and serve immediately. My total cost for 6 servings: about $4.50

Lentil and tomato stew

I adapted this one from one I found in the Epicurious website to use some lentils I had in the pantry. First time I made it I used some of our last fall tomatoes, which we just finished yesterday, believe it or not. Good quality canned tomatoes should be fine, just make sure they are not seasoned with anything. For a richer taste, add some bacon or ham hocks.

2 teaspoons  olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 – 4 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can good quality tomatoes
1 cup (7 oz) French green lentils
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, including the juice, in the food processor and pulse several times until coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no foreign objects. Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot. My total cost for 6 servings: Maybe $1.50

Red beans with garden greens and pork ribs

Hearty beans with greens and pork riblets has been a delicious addition to this winter's Dining on a Dime repertoire.

Another pantry-inspired recipe to use some red beans I bought a while back. Beans and greens combine in many recipes, from Italian to Cajun to Brazilian, so adjust and add seasonings to your taste to give it a different spin each time. Make sure there’s enough liquid, it gets super tasty with the flavor of the greens. Serve over rice and omit the meat for a vegetarian option.

1 pound red beans, rinsed and sorted
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound pork riblets
A large bunch of greens of your choice, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch carrot greens, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, put beans and add enough water to cover by a few inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer beans until tender but not mushy. Meanwhile, season pork ribs and bake in a 350º oven for 30 minutes or until they begin to brown. Let cool, cut into individual sections and set aside. In a large skillet, fry onion, garlic, celery and pepper until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Wash greens thoroughly and chop coarsely; I used a mix of broccoli greens, Brussel sprout leaves, and bok choy, plus the carrot greens.  Add pork ribs and greens to the beans, season with salt and pepper. Add water if needed and simmer over low heat until pork and beans are very tender. Serve hot, maybe with some garlic bread?
My total cost for 6 servings: about $3.50

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One Comment

  1. Ooooohhhh esa pastita estuvo deli, deli! Gracias de nuevo amiga! Y tambien por avisar el cambio de fecha del festival de tamales… espero que Margarito se recupere pronto.
    Cuando armamos la sesion de cocina 101?!

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