Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.

The post Cheese Grits appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced the warm fuzzy hug that is a bowl of cheese grits, but if not, allow me to introduce you to one of the most comforting, simple, and indulgent foods on the planet: cheese grits.

A pot full of cheese grits with a pat of butter, other breakfast items on the sides

What are Cheese Grits?

Grits are a simple porridge made with ground corn that can be prepared either sweet or savory and is often served for breakfast in the southern U.S. In addition to breakfast, grits also make a great starchy bed for saucy stewed meats, or a side dish for any meal. And Cheese grits are just grits that have been taken to the next level by stirring in a heap of rich, delicious cheese. They’re simple but so incredibly delightful.

Read more about grits here.

What Kind of Grits to Use

There are a few different types of grits you can buy at the store and you can make cheese grits with all of them. You can use either white or yellow grits without issue, although using yellow grits will give you a more vibrant cheesy color. I used white quick-cooking grits in the recipe below, but if you have regular grits you’ll just need to simmer them slightly longer (just follow the directions on the package).

Can I Use a Different Cheese?

Yes! There are so many delicious cheese options for cheese grits. You can do something like Parmesan, gruyere, chevre, Boursin, or even something like pepper jack. Basically, cheese and grits were made for each other.

How to Serve Cheese Grits

Cheese grits are awesome at breakfast (pictured here with eggs and sausage), but sometimes I’ll top them with a fried egg and some salsa. You can also top them with other savory delights, like saucy shrimp, beef brisket, BBQ beans, or just about any savory saucy dish.

cheese grits in a bowl topped with fried eggs and breakfast sausage
Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

Cheese Grits

These cheese grits are extra rich, creamy, and flavorful. They make a hearty and comforting breakfast or a delicious side dish with dinner.
Total Cost $3.39 recipe / $0.85 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 374kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.26
  • 2 cups milk $1.25
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits $0.49
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.18
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded $1.15

Instructions

  • Combine the chicken broth, milk, and garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching.
  • Once boiling, stir in the quick cooking grits and salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the grits simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and pepper.
  • Finally, stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the grits. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Sodium: 855mg | Fiber: 2g

Love savory breakfast foods? Check out our Savory Breakfast Recipes category.

Cheese grits dripping off the serving spoon into the pot

How to Make Cheese Grits – Step by Step Photos

Milk being poured into a pot with chicken broth

Combine 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and ¼ tsp garlic powder in a medium sauce pot. Place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat (stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching).

grits being poured into the pot with the milk and broth

Once boiling, stir in 1 cup quick cooking grits and ¼ tsp salt. Lower the heat to medium-low, and let the grits simmer for about five minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Thickened grits in the pot being stirred

It should be nice and thick like in the photo above. Once thickened, remove it from the heat.

butter and pepper added to the grits

Stir in 2 Tbsp butter and about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Shredded cheddar being added to grits

Stir in 4oz. of shredded cheddar cheese, one handful at a time, until it’s all melted into the grits.

finished cheese grits being stirred in the pot

And it’s done! Dreamy creamy cheese grits!

a pot of cheese grits surrounded by other breakfast items

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Quick Veggie Pasta

Use up your leftover odds and ends in the kitchen because “anything goes” with this Quick Veggie Pasta! Make it vegetarian or vegan!

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s your weekly reminder that not all meals need to be a huge production. Sometimes when you just toss what you have on hand into a pot or a skillet, you get really great results. I usually follow a rough template for these types of meals, but I love to experiment with what ingredients get plugged into the template. This Quick Veggie Pasta is my recent favorite “whatever goes” recipe, and you can easily add meat or make it vegan with one ingredient swap, so it’s very flexible!

Overhead view of quick veggie pasta in a skillet with tongs

Why I Love This Vegetable Pasta

This is my favorite type of fast, easy, satisfying meal. It’s so flexible that you really don’t even need to measure. You can use any type of pasta, any type of vegetable, and you can even play around with the seasonings. It’s simple, it’s good, and it doesn’t take a lot of mental energy to make. :)

Pasta Options

You can literally use any type of pasta for this recipe and in any amount. Long pasta, short pasta, even tiny pasta like couscous or orzo. This is great because I rarely use a full box of pasta at once, so I always have small amounts of random pasta hanging out in my pantry that needs to be used.

And while this next tip will make purists clutch their pearls, I suggest breaking long pasta in half before cooking. This makes it easier to stir chunky objects (like vegetables) into the pasta. You’ll actually be able to mix them together in instead of the vegetables getting all pushed to the outside of the skillet with a clump of pasta in the center.

Side view of quick veggie pasta in a bowl twirled around a fork

Vegatble Options

Just as with the type of pasta, you can use virtually any vegetable here! I’ve even made this with frozen mixed vegetables and enjoyed it quite a bit. And not only is the type of vegetable flexible, but the amount is as well. Use more, less, or however much you want. The vegetables I used today are grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach, but here are some other great options:

  • kale
  • peas
  • corn
  • avocado (will give the pasta a nice creamy effect)
  • edamame
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • bell pepper
  • green beans
  • onion (red, yellow, green)

The trick to swapping out the vegetables is to add them to the skillet in order of hardest to softest. A hard vegetable, like carrot, that will take longer to soften should go in the skillet first so it has time to cook, whereas a soft vegetable, like spinach, should be added last so it doesn’t overcook.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is commonly used as a nutrient-dense seasoning for food. It has a yellow color has a light, flakey texture that mixes well into sauces, and a savory almost cheesy flavor. The nutritional yeast is the star of the show for this pasta dish because it really adds depth to the flavor and tons of umami.

You can usually find nutritional yeast in the grocery store near other non-refrigerated health foods. Some common brands that you’re likely to find in major grocery stores are Bragg’s and Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve seen several stores selling it under their own name brand as well, like Trader Joes’ and Kroger.

Want to see some other ways to use nutritional yeast? Check out our nutritional yeast archives.

Overhead view of a bowl full of quick veggie pasta

Love fast pasta dishes? Check out the rest of our Quick Pasta Recipes!

Side view of quick veggie pasta in a bowl twirled around a fork

Quick Veggie Pasta

Use up your leftover odds and ends in the kitchen because "anything goes" with this Quick Veggie Pasta! Make it vegetarian or vegan!
Total Cost $3.61 rcipe / $0.90 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 301kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. linguine $0.50
  • 4 oz. mushrooms $0.75
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes $1.25
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach $0.50
  • 1 Tbsp butter* $0.09
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast $0.42
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  • While waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms and cut the tomatoes in half.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to the skillet and sauté until they have released all of their moisture and water is no longer pooling on the bottom of the skillet (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add the tomatoes and sauté for about two minutes more, or just until they're heated through (they'll continue to cook more after other ingredients are added). Add the spinach and sauté just until wilted.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter. Toss until everything is coated in melted butter. Turn the heat off.
  • Season with garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, then toss to coat. Give the pasta a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If the pasta gets too dry as you're tossing with the seasoning, just add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Notes

*Swap with a vegan butter to make this recipe vegan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 200mg | Fiber: 4g
Side view of pasta in the skillet being picked up by tongs

How to Make Quick Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Uncooked linguine in a pot

Start with your pasta first because the rest of the dish will probably be done cooking by the time the pasta boils and drains. I used a ½ lb. linguine for this recipe, but you can use whatever type you’d like. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta, and continue to boil until tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain in a colander.

Sliced mushrooms and tomatoes on a cutting board

While waiting for the pasta water to boil, slice or dice up any vegetables you may be using. I’m using up my leftover mushrooms and tomatoes, so I had 4oz. mushrooms to slice and about one cup of grape tomatoes to slice in half.

Sautéed mushrooms in a skillet

Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and water is no longer pooling on the bottom of the skillet (5-7 minutes).

Tomatoes added to the skillet with mushrooms

Add the tomatoes and sauté just for a couple of minutes more. They’ll continue cooking as you add more ingredients, so they don’t need to be cooked down too far here.

spinach added to the skillet with tomatoes and mushrooms

Finally, add the fresh spinach and sauté for a minute or so more, or just until it wilts.

pasta and butter added to the skillet

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet along with 1 Tbsp butter. Toss until the butter melts and everything is coated in butter.

nutritional yeast and seasoning added to the noodles

Turn the heat off, then season the veggie pasta with 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp garlic powder, about ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Toss until the seasoning is evenly coating everything. If the pasta gets dry, just add a splash of the reserved pasta water.

finished quick veggie pasta in the skillet

Make sure to give the veggie pasta one final taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. You can even try adding other herbs and spices! Crushed red pepper is another favorite add-in of mine.

Overhead view of a plate full of quick veggie pasta

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Summer Gazpacho

When the summer heat is at full blast and the last thing you want to do is cook, it’s time to make Gazpacho. It’s cold, refreshing, it only takes a few minutes to make, and you never have to turn on the stove. Plus, the leftovers are *chef’s kiss* delicious, so you can eat for […]

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When the summer heat is at full blast and the last thing you want to do is cook, it’s time to make Gazpacho. It’s cold, refreshing, it only takes a few minutes to make, and you never have to turn on the stove. Plus, the leftovers are *chef’s kiss* delicious, so you can eat for the next few days with no extra work! So hit up those summer farmers’ markets, grab some fresh produce, and let’s make some gazpacho!

Originally posted 5-3-2010, updated 7-3-2021.

side view of three bowls of summer gazpacho topped with avocado

What is Gazpacho?

Gazpacho is a cold, tomato-based soup made with puréed vegetables and other ingredients like bread, herbs, or even fruit. It kind of reminds me of salsa, but with a different flavor profile (so if you’ve ever been tempted to eat salsa straight, gazpacho might be for you). This recipe originated in the Iberian peninsula, namely Portugal and Spain, and has since spread around the world. And like many recipes that have been around for hundreds of years, there are many interpretations of this classic summer soup. 

My interpretation of gazpacho is definitely a little non-traditional. For one, I used canned crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice (like V8) in place of fresh tomatoes. Yes, this will make some people clutch their pearls, but I like the full-bodied flavor that the crushed tomatoes bring to the party. Second, I don’t use bread in my gazpacho, which is a common ingredient in traditional gazpacho recipes. Blending a soft bread into the soup gives it an almost creamy flavor and is another way of adding body, so the soup isn’t too watery.

How Do You Serve Gazpacho?

CHILLED. While this soup is pretty tasty even at room temperature, it’s ultra-refreshing when chilled and can really take the edge off that intense summer heat. I like to serve it with some crusty bread on the side for dipping, because every meal is better with a little crusty bread on the side, IMHO. It would also be great with some garlic bread, a grilled cheese sandwich, or even some cold pasta salad on the side. And if you want to add a little protein, a few cooled cooked shrimp would be marvelous in this soup!

What Else Can I Add?

Gazpacho is wonderful because it’s very flexible, and that’s another reason there are so many interpretations of this delicious soup. Here are some other ingredients you can toss in, if you have them on hand:

  • Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chives)
  • Soft bread (as mentioned above, this makes the soup almost creamy and gives it body)
  • Red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar in place of the lemon juice
  • Red bell pepper
  • Jalapeño
  • Avocado (try blending it into the soup for a creamy texture, instead of using it as a topping)
  • Watermelon
  • Tomatillos

In addition to adding ingredients into your gazpacho, you can have a lot of fun with the toppings. Here are some ideas for topping your gazpacho:

  • Steamed shrimp (cooled)
  • Croutons 
  • A drizzle of pesto
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • A drizzle of chile oil
  • A drizzle of balsamic glaze
  • A spoonful of corn salsa
  • Fresh chopped herbs
  • Flakey sea salt
  • A pinch of crumbled feta

Overhead view of three bowls of summer gazpacho

Overhead view of three bowls of summer gazpacho

Summer Gazpacho

This cold, refreshing Summer Gazpacho is the easiest no-cook recipe for when the weather is hot and summer produce is at its best!
Total Cost $3.83 recipe / $0.96 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Chill 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 184kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes $0.69
  • 1 cup vegetable juice (like V8) $0.35
  • 1/2 sweet onion (about 1 cup chopped) $0.40
  • 1/2 cucumber (about 2 cups chopped) $0.50
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley $0.35
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro $0.20
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 2 tsp lemon juice $0.04
  • 1 avocado $0.99

Instructions

  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice to a food processor or blender.
  • Peel the cucumber, if desired. Cut the onion and cucumber into chunks. Wash the parsley and cilantro well. Mince the garlic. Add the cucumber, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to the food processor or blender.
  • Purée the ingredients, or leave them slightly chunky, if preferred. Taste the gazpacho and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon to your liking. Chill the soup for 30 minutes before serving. Give it one last taste after chilling, in case the flavors need to be adjusted.
  • Dice the avocado just befor serving and add a few chunks on top of each bowl. Add extra pepper and olive oil to each bowl, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 839mg | Fiber: 7g

three bowls of gazpacho from the side, a spoon in one

How to Make Easy Summer Gazpacho – Step by Step Photos

Crushed tomatoes and vegetable juice in food processor

Add one 15oz. can crushed tomatoes and 1 cup vegetable juice (like V8 juice) to a food processor or blender.

onion, cucumber, and herbs added to food processor

Cut ½ sweet onion (about 1 cup) and 1/2 cucumber (about 2 cups) into chunks. You can peel the cucumber or leave it unpeeled. Peeling the cucumber will allow your gazpacho to have a more vibrant red color. Wash the parsley and cilantro well. Mince the garlic. Add the onion, cucumber, ½ cup fresh parsley, ½ cup fresh cilantro, one garlic clove (minced), 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and 2 tsp lemon juice to the food processor or blender. 

Finished gazpacho in the food processor

Purée the ingredients, or leave them slightly chunky, if you prefer. Taste the gazpacho and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon to your liking. Chill the soup for about 30 minutes before serving. It’s not a bad idea to give it one final taste after refrigeration, as the flavors will begin to melt and shift as the soup refrigerates.

Four bowls of gazpacho topped with avocado and cilantro

Dice the avocado and add chunks to each bowl. I also like to drizzle just a bit more olive oil and sprinkle a little extra pepper over each bowl, but that’s optional. The avocado really takes it to the next level, though, so I wouldn’t skip that!

a spoonful of summer gazpacho being lifted from the bowl

Enjoy that cool, refreshing tomato-cucumber flavor!

The post Summer Gazpacho appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!

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Green Chile Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes that if a restaurant has it on the menu, I’m 100% going to order it. There’s just something about that green chile flavor paired with creamy cheese that I can’t get enough of. So why, in green chile heaven, had I not made it myself at home yet?? It was time to fix that. ;)

overhead view of green chile mac and cheese in a bowl with a fork on the side

Green Chile Mac: The Long Way and The Short Way

There are a few ways you can go about making green chile mac, but they all fall into two categories: the long way or the short way. The long way means buying fresh hatch chile peppers and roasting them yourself before adding them to your mac and cheese. This will definitely get you the most delicious and smokey green chile flavor, but in most of the U.S. fresh hatch chiles aren’t readily available year-round.

So I decided to make my green chile mac and cheese the short way, using canned green chiles. It’s fast, easy, and still gets you a good amount of that green chile flavor! And that’s more my style (most nights of the week, anyway).

Is it Spicy?

Green chiles can be spicy or mild. If you can’t handle the heat, make sure to look for a canned green chile that specifically says “mild” on the label. The recipe below also includes a pinch of crushed red pepper and while that ingredient can be spicy, it’s in such a small quantity in the recipe that it will not add a significant amount of heat to your green chile mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Green Chile Mac and Cheese?

For macaroni and cheese in general, you want something that melts smoothly instead of stringy. Cheeses in the cheddar family melt smoothly, while mozzarella is a good example of a stringy cheese. To go with the green chile and cumin flavors in this dish, I recommend going with either a white cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a pepper jack if you want your mac to be a little spicier.

How Are the Leftovers?

Cheese sauces are usually a lot better when fresh compared to after refrigeration and reheating, but I still enjoyed the leftovers of this green chile mac and cheese quite a bit! While the cheese sauce wasn’t quite as smooth and saucy, the green chile flavor does intensify as it refrigerates, which added to the enjoyment.

What to Serve with Green Chile Mac

I wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down to a large bowl of this as my whole meal, but it’s probably best used as a side dish. I’d serve this macaroni and cheese as a side to something like Turkey Taco Skillet, Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chipotle Portobello Oven Fajitas, or Smoky Black Bean Soup.

Overhead view of a pot full of green chile mac and cheese
Overhead view of a bowl full of green chile mac and cheese

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!
Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $1.25 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 571kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. macaroni $0.50
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.82
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded $1.69
  • 2 4oz. cans diced green chiles $1.78
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add the macaroni and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the green chile cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a saucepot and cook over medium heat while stirring for about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk into the cooked butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer, at which point it will thicken to a cream-like consistency.
  • Turn the heat off. Begin stirring in the shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the sauce.
  • Drain the canned green chiles and stir them into the cheese sauce along with the cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Make sure it is heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute slightly when mixed with the pasta.
  • Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 779mg | Fiber: 3g
side view of a fork lifting green chile mac and cheese from the bowl

How to Make Green Chile Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Cooked macaroni in a colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add 1/2 lb. macaroni and continue to boil until the macaroni is tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.

butter and flour being whisked in a saucepot

While the macaroni is cooking, begin the cheese sauce. Add 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to a sauce pot. Cook over medium while stirring for about 2 minutes.

milk being poured into the pot with butter and flour

Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the saucepot with the butter and flour. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk comes up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken. It should thicken to the consistency of cream.

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese added to the saucepot

Turn off the heat and begin stirring in the 8oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until it is all melted into the sauce.

green chiles and spices added to the cheese sauce

Drain two 4oz. cans of diced green chiles, then add them to the cheese sauce along with ½ tsp cumin, ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine, then taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking if needed. The sauce should taste heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute a bit when mixed with the pasta.

Cheese sauce being poured over the drained pasta

Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce.

finished green chile mac in a pot with a spatula

Serve and enjoy while it’s hot and creamy!

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Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spicy, making it an addictive summer treat.

The post Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve been totally obsessed with the salty-sweet-spicy flavor combo lately. Ever since I fell victim to a Facebook ad selling some chili-coated sour patch kids (yes, they were awesome). So I was totally delighted when I decided to throw together the gochujang in the back of my fridge with some pineapple from my freezer, and a fresh cucumber, and it tasted exactly like the chili gummies! But like, with actual fruit and vegetables instead of candy. Haha! Needless to say, this Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is a HIT.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of spicy pineapple cucumber salad

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang is a centuries-old Korean chili paste made with chili peppers, rice, soybeans, and salt (check this article for a really extensive history and detail of this awesome sauce). It has a salty-spicy-umami flavor that kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. The flavor profile is so unique and so delicious, and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that it’s really trending in the U.S. right now because that means it’s fairly easy to find in major grocery stores. My local Kroger store has about five or six different brands on the shelf!

P.S. Gochujang stays good in the fridge for a really long time, so don’t worry about needing to use up the whole container right away. Here are some other recipes I’ve made using gochujang, if you need some inspiration.

Fresh or Frozen Pineapple?

I used frozen pineapple this time around because I had it on hand, but fresh would work just as well. Canned pineapple (in juice, NOT syrup) might work in a pinch, but it tends to be a lot sweeter and not quite as bright in flavor as fresh or frozen, so it’s definitely not my first choice for this recipe.

Substitutions

This particular flavor combination has a lot of flexibility, so I think there is a lot of room for substitution. Here are some ideas:

  • Pineapple: You can use mango, cantaloupe, or even watermelon in place of the pineapple.
  • Cilantro: If you can’t do cilantro, you can either leave it out or try adding some green onion for a little fresh kick.
  • Gochujang: If you can’t find gochujang, Tajín seasoning actually makes a really good substitute. It has a really similar salty-spicy flavor profile. It is a powder instead of a paste, but will mix into the dressing all the same. Use about 1 tsp Tajín and add more to your liking.

What to Serve with Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This tasty salad would make a great side dish to something like Coconut Chicken Strips, Baked Ginger Salmon, Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls, or Easy Orange Chicken.

Side view of spicy pineapple cucumber salad in a bowl
Overhead view of Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad in a bowl

Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

This Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spicy, making it an addictive summer treat.
Total Cost $4.41 recipe / $1.10 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 1.25 cups each
Calories 75kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber (3 cups chopped) $1.25
  • 1/2 lb. frozen pineapple chunks (2 cups) $2.46
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro $0.20
  • 1.5 tsp gochujang $0.12
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar $0.37
  • 1 Tbsp sugar $0.01

Instructions

  • Thaw the pineapple chunks and chop the cucumber into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple chunks. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Prepare the dressing by whisking together the gochujang, rice vinegar, and sugar until dissolved.
  • Combine the cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, and dressing in a bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir the salad just before eating to redistribute the dressing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 104mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cucumber, pineapple and cilantro in a bowl

Thaw ½ lb. (about 2 cups) pineapple chunks. Chop one cucumber (about 3 cups) into pieces roughly the same size as the pineapple. Roughly chop about ½ cup cilantro. Place the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in a bowl.

Gochujang dressing in a bowl

In a bowl, stir together 1.5 tsp gochujang, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 Tbsp sugar until everything is dissolved.

Dressing being poured over cucumbers and pineapple

Pour that “awesome sauce” over the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in the bowl, then give it a good stir.

Finished spicy pineapple cucumber salad in a bowl

You can either eat your salad immediately or let it marinate for a while. The salad will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days, but the fruit and vegetables will get softer the longer they marinate. Make sure to give it a good stir each time just before serving to redistribute the dressing!

front view of a bowl full of spicy pineapple cucumber salad

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Pesto Chickpea Salad

I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, […]

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I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, it’s so creamy and delicious, and you can eat it a number of ways. Everything about this chickpea salad is my style! 

Originally posted 12-5-2012, updated 6-3-2021.

Pesto Chickpea Salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

How to Serve Pesto Chickpea Salad

This super simple chickpea salad can be enjoyed several ways. You can serve it as an appetizer with crackers for dipping, like in the photo above, it can be a side dish with dinner, or you can use it as a filling for a sandwich (toasted whole grain bread, a hearty bun, or in a wrap). …Or, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself just digging into the bowl with a fork. ;)

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

There are a lot of different types of pesto on the market, offering a little something for everyone. If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly, ALDI makes a super affordable basil pesto that I use in a lot of recipes. Today I happened to be shopping at a different store, so I went with Filippo Berio Classic Pesto, which was still pretty affordable and it had a really incredible flavor. Barilla also makes a very affordable pesto. And since pesto is the main flavor in this recipe, you definitely want to go with a pesto that you know you like. 

How Long Does the Salad Keep?

This Pesto Chickpea Salad will stay good in the refrigerator for about four days, making it great for meal prep! 

Soak Your Onions for a Softer Flavor

If you’re sensitive to red onions, here’s a trick that will make life so much more enjoyable. Soak your sliced onions in cold water for about five minutes before adding them to your recipe. The water pulls out that super sharp flavor, leaving a nice mild hint of red onion that will flavor your dish without hurting your stomach. :)

side view of pesto chickpea salad in a bowl, surrounded by crackers

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

Pesto Chickpea Salad

This creamy and tangy Pesto Chickpea Salad is a quick and easy lunch. Enjoy with crackers, on a sandwich, or on top of a bed of greens.
Total Cost $3.14 recipe / $0.79 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 ¾ cup each
Calories 363kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise $0.40
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $1.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.01
  • 2 15oz. cans chickpeas $1.10
  • 1/4 cup red onion $0.10
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley $0.17

Instructions

  • Stir together the mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Roughly chop the parsley. Finely dice the red onions (soak the red onions in cold water for 5 minutes for a milder onion flavor). Add the chickpeas, parsley, and onion to a large bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the chickpeas, parsley, and onion. Stir to combine. Serve as is or slightly mash the chickpeas for a thicker consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 245mg | Fiber: 10g

Love chickpea salads? Check out my Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Pesto chickpea salad on a bun with greens

How to Make Pesto Chickpea Salad – Step By Step Photos

Creamy pesto dressing in a bowl being stirred
Start by making the creamy pesto dressing. In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup basil pesto, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ⅛ tsp freshly cracked pepper. 

Chickpeas, parsley, and red onion in a bowl

Rinse and drain two 15oz. cans of chickpeas, then place them in a bowl. Roughly chop about 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Finely dice about ¼ cup red onion (soak for 5 minutes in cold water if you want a milder onion flavor). 

Dressing added to chickpeas in the bowl

Add the dressing and stir to combine. You can either serve the salad just like this, or…

Slightly mashed chickpea salad in the bowl

Or you can slightly mash the chickpeas in the bowl to make it hold together a little more like a potato salad. You can use a potato masher to do this, or just mash some of the beans with a fork against the side of the bowl.

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl with a cracker dipped into the side

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat!

close up of pesto chickpea salad on a cracker

So much flavor, so little effort. ;)

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Broccoli Cheddar Pizza

This broccoli cheddar pizza starts with a super creamy herb-filled white sauce then is topped with tender broccoli florets and cheddar.

The post Broccoli Cheddar Pizza appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I always feel kind of embarrassed to say that my favorite food is pizza because it sounds so generic, but like, it’s truly one of the most flexible foods out there. You can get so creative with it! And I absolutely love coming up with new flavor combos for my pizza. This week it was a Broccoli Cheddar Pizza with a super creamy, herb-filled white sauce. SO GOOD.

Overhead view of a broccoli cheddar pizza

Pizza Crust Options

You can use any type of pizza dough or pizza crust for this recipe. I used my super quick Thin & Crispy Pizza Crust recipe, but you could also use store-bought dough, store-bought pre-baked pizza crust, or even something like naan or tortillas.

Can You Use Fresh Broccoli?

Yes, absolutely. I used frozen broccoli because it’s par-boiled before freezing, so it’s already tender and ready to go, but if you prefer fresh broccoli you can certainly use that. You can either leave it fresh for extra crunch, or you can steam or par-boil it first to make it more tender. If using broccoli fresh without any pre-cooking, I suggest tossing it in a little bit of oil to prevent it from drying out when in the oven.

What Else Can I Add?

I’m a huge advocate of checking your pantry, fridge, or freezer for leftover ingredients that you can toss into your meal. Pizza is one of the best recipes for using up random ingredients. Here are some ingredients that would go awesome on this pizza, if you have them:

  • Red onion
  • Bacon
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Feta
  • Pesto
  • Cooked chicken (rotisserie, grilled breast, etc.)
  • Ham
One slice of broccoli cheddar pizza being pulled from the pie
One slice of broccoli cheddar pizza being pulled from the pie

Broccoli Cheddar Pizza

This broccoli cheddar pizza starts with a super creamy herb-filled white sauce then is topped with tender broccoli florets and cheddar.
Total Cost $3.28 recipe / $0.82 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 2 slices each
Calories 588.48kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Herby White Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.11
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.40
  • 1/2 cup milk $0.15
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01

Pizza Toppings

  • 12 oz. frozen broccoli florets, thawed $0.89
  • 6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $1.27

Instructions

  • Prepare the herby white sauce first. Combine the butter, cream cheese, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small saucepot. Heat and stir over medium until the cream cheese has fully melted and the sauce is thick and creamy.
  • Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Stretch your pizza dough over a pizza pan. Spread the herby white sauce over the surface of the pizza dough.
  • Chop the thawed frozen broccoli into smaller pieces. Sprinkle the chopped broccoli over the herby white sauce on the pizza. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes, or until the pizza crust is golden brown and the cheddar on top is melted. Cut into eight pieces and serve!

Notes

*I used Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust, which requires a five-minute pre-bake before topping. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2slices | Calories: 588.48kcal | Carbohydrates: 58.95g | Protein: 22.23g | Fat: 28.88g | Sodium: 953.7mg | Fiber: 4.53g
One slice of broccoli cheddar pizza being held close to the camera

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Pizza – Step by Step Photos

Herby white sauce ingredients (minus milk) in the saucepot

Start with the herby white sauce. Add 1 Tbsp butter, 4 oz. cream cheese, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp dried basil, ½ tsp dried oregano, ⅛ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ cup milk to a saucepot (photo is before adding the milk).

Finished herby white sauce on a spoon in the sauce pot

Heat and stir the sauce ingredients over medium until the cream cheese is fully melted and the sauce is thick and creamy.

White sauce being spread onto pizza dough

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Stretch your pizza dough onto a pizza pan, then spread the herby white sauce over the surface.

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

Chop 12 oz. of thawed frozen broccoli florets into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Broccoli added to the pizza

Add the chopped broccoli on top of the white sauce.

pizza topped with shredded cheddar

Finally, top with 6oz. shredded cheddar.

Baked broccoli cheddar pizza on the pizza pan

Bake the broccoli cheddar pizza in the preheated 450ºF oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheddar is melted.

Close up of sliced broccoli cheddar pizza

Slice the pizza into eight pieces, then serve!

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No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

These no-bake pretzel peanut butter bars are a ridiculously simple homemade version of your favorite peanut butter cups!

The post No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m not sure whether to hug or curse the person who invented no-bake peanut butter bars. This homemade version of a peanut butter cup is so ridiculously simple that you might never buy a packaged peanut butter cup at the store again. Especially since you can stash these in your freezer and just take one out to nibble on every now and then. IT’S JUST TOO EASY.

Front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

No-bake peanut butter bars have been around for eons. Well, decades at least. There are a million versions of this recipe out there, but mine have a slightly more even ratio between the chocolate and peanut butter portions, and I like to nestle a little mini-pretzel in the top for a little added crunch.

Oh, and most no-bake peanut butter bar recipes usually specify not to use natural-style peanut butter, but that’s what I use with mine and it works just fine! :)

What Kind of Nut Butter Can I Use?

I used a natural-style peanut butter made with just peanuts and salt for these peanut butter bars. If you’re allergic to peanuts you can use a different type of nut butter, like almond or cashew (although those will be quite a bit more expensive).

Just make sure you choose a nut butter that is quite firm when refrigerated and soft when room temperature. As long as it firms up when refrigerated, it will work for these bars. Oh, and make sure it has at least a little salt and is very well stirred before adding to the recipe. Too much oil and the bars won’t set.

Choose Your Chocolate

This recipe is also fairly flexible when it comes to the type of chocolate used. I used plain old semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could have a little fun and use dark chocolate, or a different flavored chocolate chip if you’d like.

How to Store Peanut Butter Bars

You’ll want to keep these peanut butter bars refrigerated so they don’t melt. I suggest keeping them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator no longer than a week, or you can freeze them for longer storage (freezer bag, up to three months or so). To thaw, just let them sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

A hand holding one no bake peanut butter bar close to the camera so you can see the side
overhead view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

These no-bake pretzel peanut butter bars are a ridiculously simple homemade version of your favorite peanut butter cups!
Total Cost $3.94 recipe / $0.16 per square
Prep Time 15 minutes
Refrigerate Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 25 1 square
Calories 187.94kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 sheets) $0.38
  • 1/2 cup butter $0.82
  • 1 cup peanut butter (+ 2 Tbsp) $1.38
  • 1 cup powdered sugar $0.07
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips $1.19
  • 25 mini pretzels $0.10

Instructions

  • If your graham crackers aren't already in crumb form, use a food processor to blitz them into a fine crumb.
  • Place the butter and 1 cup of peanut butter in a bowl. Microwave and stir in 30-second intervals, just until they're warm enough to melt together. Stir until evenly combined. (Reserve the last 2 Tbsp peanut butter for later.)
  • Add the powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs to the melted peanut butter mixture and stir until evenly combined.
  • Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper making sure some of the paper overhangs on the sides so you can lift the bars out of the dish later. Press the peanut butter mixture into the bottom in an even layer.
  • Add the chocolate chips and the last 2 Tbsp peanut butter to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave and stir in 15 second increments until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth.
  • Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter base in the baking dish and spread it smooth. Add the mini pretzels on top in even rows (I did five rows of five across).
  • Refrigerate the peanut butter bars for two hours, or until completely set. Once set, lift the bars out of the dish using the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares between the pretzels. Enjoy immediately, refrigerate for later, or freeze for long term storage.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square | Calories: 187.94kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.3g | Protein: 3.82g | Fat: 12.94g | Sodium: 108.91mg | Fiber: 1.41g

Love peanut butter and chocolate? Check out my Peanut Butter Fluff Cups or “The One” Chocolate Mug Cake!

overhead view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

How to Make Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars – Step by Step Photos

Graham crackers in a food processor

While you can actually buy graham crackers already in crumb form, it’s going to be less expensive to make crumbs out of whole crackers. You want a very fine and even crumb for this, so a food processor is probably the best option. You need 1 cup of crumbs, which should be about 8 sheets of graham crackers.

Graham cracker crumbs in a food processor

Whiz those graham crackers until they’r every fine and even.

Peanut butter and butter in a bowl

Add 1 cup peanut butter and ½ cup butter (I used salted) to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or just long enough that they’ll melt together. Avoid heating it until it’s piping hot. That will make the later steps more difficult. Stir until the mixture is even and smooth.

Graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar added to the peanut butter

Add the graham cracker crumbs and 1 cup powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture.

Peanut butter base mixture in the bowl with a spoon

Stir until it forms an even paste-like mixture.

peanut butter base spread into a parchment lined baking dish

Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that some of it sticks up the sides (this will help you remove the bars from the dish later). Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish.

Chocolate chips and peanut butter in a bowl

Add 1.5 cups chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp peanut butter to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir will. Continue to microwave and stir in 15 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Avoid over heating the chocolate or it will begin to get grainy.

Melted chocolate being spread over the peanut butter base

Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter base and then spread it out until smooth.

Mini pretzels being pressed into the melted chocolate

Press the mini-pretzels into the melted chocolate in rows. I did five rows of five across. Make sure to leave a little space between each because that is where you’ll cut your bars.

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars being cut

Refrigerate the peanut butter bars for at least two hours, or until they are solid. Lift them out of the dish using the sides of the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares between each pretzel.

peanut butter bars in a freezer bag

You can keep your peanut butter bars in the refrigerator for about a week, or freeze them for longer! They thaw pretty quickly at room temperature, so you can get that peanut butter chocolate fix whenever you’d like. ;)

front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

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Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach

I bought a little jar of pesto recently and have been having fun finding ways to add it to everyday recipes. Yesterday I noticed a half bag of macaroni that had been sitting in my pantry for a few months and I just knew it was begging for the pesto treatment. So, I whipped up a quick […]

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I bought a little jar of pesto recently and have been having fun finding ways to add it to everyday recipes. Yesterday I noticed a half bag of macaroni that had been sitting in my pantry for a few months and I just knew it was begging for the pesto treatment. So, I whipped up a quick béchamel sauce, stirred in some grated Parmesan, and a good dollop of pesto. I poured the luxurious sauce over my cooked macaroni then aded couple handfuls of thawed frozen spinach (because I’m all about balance), and had myself the most delicious and creamy pesto mac and cheese.

Originally posted 3-8-2016, updated 4-26-2021.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach, fork in the center

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

I used a simple basil pesto, but the wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is very flexible. You could do a homemade Kale Pesto, you could do a sun-dried tomato pesto, or practically any flavor pesto that you’d like. 

How to Use Leftover Pesto

Pesto is definitely an expensive ingredient, but it’s so potent that you really don’t need a lot to add big flavor to your recipes. The little jar I bought contains about 3/4 cup pesto and costs $3.99. I usually only use about ¼ cup at a time in a recipe, so there is always some leftover. Here are some other recipes that use pesto:

If you can’t find uses for your leftovers immediately, pesto can be frozen. A lot of people like to spoon it into ice cube trays so they can grab a couple tablespoons at a time to toss into recipes like pasta, salad dressings, and other sauces.

What Else Can I Add to Pesto Mac and Cheese?

You can really take this recipe so many different directions! Try adding a handful of sun dried tomatoes, or maybe some chopped up rotisserie chicken. Or try topping it with some crumbled feta, bacon bits, or some buttered breadcrumbs!

Close up of a spoonful of creamy pesto mac with the pot in the background

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach

Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach

A simple creamy sauce infused with basil pesto makes this Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with spinach the ultimate comfort food WITH a dose of vegetables!
Total Cost $4.05 reicpe / $0.68 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 (1 cup each)
Calories 333.58kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni $0.50
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.60
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.53
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $1.33
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1/2 lb. frozen spinach $0.80

Instructions

  • Thaw the spinach at room temperature or in the microwave. Squeeze out the excess water. Set the spinach aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the macaroni. Boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • While the pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce. Add the butter and flour to a small sauce pot. Heat and stir the butter and flour over medium heat until it forms a creamy paste and begins to bubble. Continue to stir and cook for about one minute more.
  • Whisk the milk into the butter and flour, then allow it to come up to a simmer, while whisking. When it reaches a simmer, the sauce will thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  • Whisk the Parmesan and pesto into the sauce until smooth. This will further thicken the sauce. Season the sauce with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Make sure the sauce is well seasoned as the flavors will be less concentrated once the pasta and spinach are stirred in.
  • Return the cooked and drained pasta to the large pot (heat turned off) and add the thawed spinach. Pour the sauce over top, then stir until everything is combined and coated in sauce. Serve immediately.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 333.58kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.75g | Protein: 12.33g | Fat: 14.08g | Sodium: 665.92mg | Fiber: 2.75g

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy pesto mac with spinach

How to Make Pesto Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Macaroni being poured into a pot of boiling water

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add two cups of macaroni and continue to boil until tender but not mushy. Drain the pasta in a colander.

Thawed spinach in a bowl

While the macaroni is boiling, thaw 1/2 lb. spinach and then squeeze out some of the excess water. It doesn’t have to be bone-dry, just make sure it’s not sopping wet.

Butter and flour being whisked in a sauce pot

Place 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp flour into a small sauce pot. Heat them over a medium flame while whisking. Once bubbling, continue to stir and cook for about a minute. This mixture is called a roux (this is a blonde roux, in particular) and is used to thicken the sauce. Cooking it for a minute or so slightly toasts the flour so that you don’t have that raw paste-like flavor to your sauce.

Milk being poured into the sauce pot with the roux

Whisk in two cups of whole milk. Let the mixture come to a simmer, whisking occasionally to make sure the milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom.

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Once the milk starts simmering, that’s when the roux magic happens. The milk will thicken slightly. It won’t be as thick as a cheese sauce at this point, but it should have noticeably more body. Turn the heat off.

Grated Parmesan being added to the sauce pot

Whisk in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. The cheese will help thicken the sauce even more. 

A measuring cup full of basil pesto held over the sauce pot

Then whisk in 1/4 cup basil pesto.

Salt and pepper added to the creamy pesto sauce

Finally, season the sauce with salt and freshly cracked pepper. You want the sauce to be pretty heavily seasoned because it will taste less concentrated once the pasta and spinach are stirred in. I used 1/2 tsp salt and about 5-10 cranks of a pepper mill.

Creamy pesto sauce and spinach added to the pot with the cooked macaroni

Return the cooked and drained pasta to the large pot it was cooked in, add the thawed and squeezed spinach, then pour the creamy sauce over top.

Finished creamy pesto mac in a pot with a large spoon

Then stir all that creamy pesto goodness together. Oh my.

Overhead view of a bowl full of creamy pesto mac with spinach, a fork in the center

I’ll just say it one more time, then leave it there… Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach–OH MY.

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach - BudgetBytes.com

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Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

This Broccoli Pasta Salad features a tangy homemade vinaigrette, nutty sunflower seeds, and creamy-salty feta.

The post Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when all I want to eat are cold salads with crunchy vegetables. And since fresh broccoli is one of my favorite crunchy vegetables, I decided to build a pasta salad featuring broccoli and my new favorite homemade salad dressing. This Broccoli Pasta Salad features a tangy homemade tomato vinaigrette, nutty sunflower seeds, savory red onions, and pops of creamy-salty feta. This flavor-texture combo is just magic!

Overhead of an oval serving tray full of broccoli pasta salad with black utensils in the side

Pasta Options

I used a rotini pasta for this salad because all the little twisty crevices are great at grabbing onto the salad dressing, making sure there’s tons of flavor in every bite. That being said, you could definitely do something like a penne, bowtie, or orecchiette instead. I think the nutty flavor of whole wheat pasta would actually go really well with the flavors in this salad, too.

Salad Dressing Options

I’ve included a homemade tomato vinaigrette with this recipe, but if you’re not a fan of tomato you could do a basic Italian dressing in its place, or something like a champagne vinaigrette. I’d stick to dressings that are light and tangy.

Is the Broccoli Raw??

The last time I posted a salad recipe with raw broccoli, there were quite a few people who were surprised that you could (or that you would want to) eat raw broccoli. Yes, the broccoli in this salad is raw. Raw broccoli is deliciously crunchy but does have a very different flavor from cooked broccoli. If you prefer cooked broccoli, I suggest using roasted broccoli to give an extra flavor boost to the salad.

Close up side view of broccoli pasta salad with tomato vinaigrette on a platter
Close up side view of broccoli pasta salad with tomato vinaigrette on a platter

Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

This Broccoli Pasta Salad features a tangy homemade vinaigrette, nutty sunflower seeds, and creamy-salty feta.
Total Cost $4.67 recipe / $1.17 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 576.05kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste $0.05
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp sugar $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil $0.96

Salad

  • 1/2 lb. rotini pasta $0.38
  • 1 lb. broccoli $0.89
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion $0.16
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds $0.25
  • 4 oz. feta $1.65

Instructions

  • Prepare the vinaigrette first. Whisk together the tomato paste, red wine vinegar, basil, garlic powder, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Begin to whisk in the olive oil, one tablespooon at a time, until fully incorporated. Set the vinaigrette aside.
  • Cook the rotini pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender). Drain the pasta in a colander. Rinse briefly with cool water to cool off the pasta. Drain well.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the broccoli florets off the stems, then roughly chop the florets into small, bite-sized pieces. Finely dice the red onion.
  • Once the pasta has drained, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the chopped broccoli, red onion, and sunflower seeds. Crumble the feta over top. Drizzle the dressing into the bowl and then gently toss the ingredients until they are evenly combined and everything is coated in dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 576.05kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.45g | Protein: 16.78g | Fat: 32.9g | Sodium: 575.15mg | Fiber: 6.38g
Overhead of broccoli pasta salad on a platter with a bowl of sunflower seeds and broccoli florets on the side

How to Make Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette – Step by Step Photos

tomato paste, vinegar, and herbs in a bowl

Begin the tomato vinaigrette first. Whisk together 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, ½ tsp dried basil, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper until smooth.

One tablespoon oil being added to tomato paste mixture in the bowl

Begin to whisk in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until you’ve incorporated 6 Tbsps. Set the dressing aside.

Cooked rotini in a colander

Next, cook ½ lb. rotini according to the package directions (boil 7-10 minutes, or until tender). Drain the pasta in a colander. Give it a brief rinse to cool it off, then let it drain well.

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

Chop about 1 lb. of fresh broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces. They don’t have to be pretty florets, just chop away until the pieces are fairly small. Also finely dice about ½ cup red onion.

Broccoli pasta salad ingredients in a bowl

Once cooled, transfer the pasta to a bowl and add the chopped broccoli, diced red onion, ¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, and about 4oz. feta.

Tomato vinaigrette being poured over the pasta salad ingredients

Pour the tomato vinaigrette over top…

Finished broccoli pasta salad in a bowl with a red spatula

Then gently toss everything together until well combined and everything is coated in dressing. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later!

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