Ranch Broccoli Pasta

This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!

The post Ranch Broccoli Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One of my all-time favorite no-brainer quick-fix meals is pasta + broccoli + butter + Parmesan (aka Bowties and Broccoli). But what I discovered this week is that sprinkling a little ranch seasoning mix over top really takes it to the next level! This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!

Overhead view of a pot full of ranch broccoli pasta

What Kind of Ranch Seasoning to Use

I used a half batch of my homemade ranch seasoning, but you can use a store-bought packet of ranch seasoning mix if you prefer. This recipe calls for 1.5 Tbsp of ranch seasoning, which is about ½ of a store-bought packet. Of course, you could always add more seasoning if you prefer!

Use Any Pasta

Another reason that I love this quick-fix meal is that you can do this with whatever shape pasta you have. So it’s a great way to use up odds and ends of boxes of pasta that you may have hanging out in your pantry (if you’re like me and rarely cook an entire pound of pasta at once).

What Else Can I Add?

As usual, this recipe is a great jumping-off point for a number of fun variations. Here are some other ingredients you can add to take this easy meal up a notch:

  • Diced grilled chicken
  • Bacon
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl with a fork
close up of ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl

Ranch Broccoli Pasta

This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!
Total Cost $1.71 recipe / $0.43 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 296kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. pasta (any shape) $0.50
  • 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets $0.72
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1.5 Tbsp ranch seasoning $0.27
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.01

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 7-10 minutes).
  • When the pasta is just tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta, and let it sit for about one minute. Reserve a ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • Return the drained pasta and broccoli to the pot with the burner turned off. Add the butter and ranch seasoning and stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in the seasoning. If the pasta becomes dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
  • Finally, season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 567mg | Fiber: 3g
close up of ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl

How to Make Ranch Broccoli Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Boiled pasta and broccoli florets

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 (7-10 minutes). Add the frozen broccoli florets during the last minute of boiling. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

butter and ranch seasoning added to the drained pasta and broccoli

Add the drained pasta and broccoli back to the pot (heat turned off) and add 2 Tbsp butter and about 1.5 Tbsp ranch seasoning mix. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in butter and seasoning. If the pasta become dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.

Finished ranch broccoli pasta in the pot with a spatula

Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve warm! So simple, so delish. :)

The post Ranch Broccoli Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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.

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!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck […]

The post One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Guess what time it is! Comfort-food-o’clock. And what makes better comfort food than a rich creamy pasta dish, like this One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff? This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It cooks in one easy pot, just like hamburger helper stroganoff, but it’s homemade. You’re going to want to tuck this recipe into your back pocket for those nights when you’re super tired and need an extra comforting meal. :)

Originally posted 2-17-14, updated 5-20-21

overhead view of a skillet full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

Use All Beef, No Beef, or Both!

I used half ground beef and half mushrooms to stretch my pennies a bit further, but you could do all mushrooms or all beef if you prefer. If you’re doing a vegetarian version with all mushrooms, use mushroom or vegetable broth to replace the beef broth.

Tips for “One Pot” Success

One pot recipes can be a bit tricky for some, so here are some pointers:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the noodles for them to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

Every piece of cookware and every range top is different, so one pot recipes are a bit like riding a bike. You have to feel it out and find the sweet spot for the equipment you’re using.

Use Good Broth

The broth brings a lot of flavor to this beef and mushroom stroganoff, so make sure you’re using a nice and flavorful broth that has adequate salt. I like to use Better than Bouillon to make broth for recipes because it’s super flavorful, I can mix up any amount I need, and the jar stays good in the refrigerator for months, so there are no leftovers to go to waste. If you still find your stroganoff to be on the bland side in the end, an extra pinch of salt can really help the flavors pop.

Side view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

 

Want more One Pot Recipes? Check out our One Pot Recipe Archives!

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

This super easy one pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff is a delicious and comforting weeknight dinner that requires just a few ingredients.
Total Cost $5.54 recipe / $1.39 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.5 cups each
Calories 476kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.22
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.01
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard $0.02
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles $0.60
  • 1/3 cup sour cream $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic. Add the garlic and butter to a large pot or skillet and sauté over medium heat for about one minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.
  • While the beef is browning, slice the mushrooms. Add the sliced mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper to the pot with the beef. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft (about five minutes).
  • Add the uncooked egg noodles to the pot along with the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The liquid will not fully cover the noodles, but that's okay.
  • Place a lid on the pot and allow the liquid to come up to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, give the pot a stir, replace the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer on low heat for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid every couple of minutes. After 7-10 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
  • Once the noodles are tender, add the sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is rich and creamy. Give the noodles a taste and add extra salt or pepper, if needed. Roughly chop a handful of parsley leaves and sprinkle over top. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5Cups | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 614mg | Fiber: 3g

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff

How to Make Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff – Step by Step Photos

garlic sautéed in butter in the skillet

Begin by sautéing 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp of butter until soft (1-2 minutes). You can use a large pot or large skillet, as long as it is big enough to hold all of the pasta AND has a lid (the lid will be used later).

browned ground beef in the skillet

Next, add 1/2 lb. ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.

Sliced mushrooms on a cutting board

While the beef is browning, slice 8oz. mushrooms. White button mushrooms are fine, but if you can get these baby bella mushrooms they are even more awesome (shout out to ALDI for carrying these at an affordable price).

Mushrooms in the skillet with beef

Once the beef is browned, add the mushrooms and some freshly cracked pepper. Continue to sauté until they are soft (about five minutes).

noodles added to the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add ½ lb. wide egg noodles to the skillet along with 2 cups beef broth, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and ½ tsp Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. The broth will not fully cover the noodles, but that’s okay. The steam in the skillet will help cook them and they’ll be stirred to make sure even cooking.

Cooked noodles with beef in the skillet

Place a lid on the skillet and bring the broth up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, give it a quick stir to loosen the noodles from the bottom, return the lid quickly, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for 7-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender and there is only a small amount of thick sauce left in the skillet. 

Sour cream added to beef and noodles in the skillet

Finally, add ⅓ cup sour cream and fold it into the noodles until everything is creamy and delicious!

Finished one pot beef and mushroom stroganoff topped with parsley

Top off the beef and mushroom stroganoff with a little chopped parsley for color (because stroganoff is kind of boring to look at) and it’s time to dive into that skillet full of creamy goodness! You might want to give it a taste at this point to see if you want a little extra salt or pepper (again, depending on the salt content of your broth), but other than that it’s time to eat! And only one dish to clean. :)

close up side view of beef and mushroom stroganoff in the skillet

The post One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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!

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

Lemon Parsley Pasta

Lemon Parsley Pasta is bright, garlicky, and full of rich Parmesan flavor. It makes a great side dish or bed for chicken or fish.

The post Lemon Parsley Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve been alllll about the easy side dishes lately and this Lemon Parsley Pasta is one of the best! It only takes a few ingredients to really transform plain pasta into something totally scrumptious. And that scrumptious, lemony, garlicky, Parmesan-y goodness makes a great side to just about anything. Or just add some chicken or shrimp and make it your main dish! YUM.

Originally posted 9-3-2009, updated 3-16-2021.

Close up of a fork twirling some of the lemon parsley pasta on a platter with sliced lemons as garnish

What Kind of Pasta is Best?

While you can technically use any pasta shape for this (what pasta isn’t good with Parmesan and garlic??), I really like thin spaghetti or angel hair. The fine pasta creates tons of surface area for the lemon and Parmesan to adhere, so you get tons of flavor in every bite!

Do I Need Fresh Lemon?

Yes, you absolutely want to use fresh lemon for this Lemon Parsley Pasta. This recipe takes advantage of the lemon zest, which provides a lot of lemon flavor without adding a ton of acidity like the juice. This recipe is the perfect candidate for using up any frozen lemons you might have stashed in the freezer (see my tutorial on how to freeze lemons).

What to Serve with Lemon Parsley Pasta

I served my lemon parsley pasta with something new this week (recipe coming in a couple of days), but there are so many other things it would go great with. It would make a great bed for Garlic Butter Shrimp, Garlic Marinated Chicken, Garlic Butter Baked Cod, or even these Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Vegetables. And because the pasta has so much flavor, you can always add a simple green side, like Oven Roasted Broccoli.

Overhead view of lemon parsley pasta on an oval serving dish with lemon slices as garnishes
Close up side view of lemon parsley pasta on a platter with lemon slices

Lemon Parsley Pasta

Lemon Parsley Pasta is bright, garlicky, and full of rich Parmesan flavor. It makes a great side dish or bed for chicken or fish. 
Total Cost $2.81 recipe / $0.70 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 309.98kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. thin spaghetti $0.50
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.89
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley $0.70
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.14
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.22
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and boil until tender (about 7-8 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, zest the lemon (you'll need about 1 Tbsp). Chop the parsley and combine it with the Parmesan, lemon zest, and pepper in a bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  • While the pasta is draining, add the olive oil and minced garlic to the pot used to cook the pasta. Sauté the garlic in the oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until it becomes fragrant.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the drained pasta and butter to the pot with the garlic. Toss the pasta until the residual heat has melted the butter and the pasta is coated in garlic and butter.
  • Add the parsley Parmesan mixture to the pot and toss to coat again. Squeeze about 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice over the pasta and season with salt (about ¼ tsp). Toss to combine, then taste, and adjust the salt, pepper, or Parmesan to your liking. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 309.98kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.45g | Protein: 8.55g | Fat: 10.85g | Sodium: 276.35mg | Fiber: 2.28g
Close up side view of lemon parsley pasta on a platter with lemon slices

How to Make Lemon Parsley Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Thin spaghetti coming out of the box

Begin cooking the pasta first because most of the other prep can be done while the pasta is cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 8 oz. thin spaghetti and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7-8 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.

Chopped parsley, lemon zest, Parmesan, and pepper in a bowl

While the pasta is cooking, zest the lemon (you’ll need about 1 Tbsp zest) and chop about ½ cup fresh parsley. Add the parsley and lemon zest to a bowl, along with 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan and ⅛ tsp fresh cracked pepper. Stir to combine.

Garlic sautéing in a pot with oil

Once you’ve drained the pasta, add two cloves minced garlic and 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pot used to cook the pasta. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

Drained pasta and butter added back to the pot.

Turn the heat off and add the drained pasta back to the pot (it should still be hot) along with 2 Tbsp butter. Toss the pasta and allow the residual heat to melt the butter. Toss until the pasta is coated in the melted butter.

parsley and parmesan mixture being poured into the pot

Add the parsley and Parmesan mixture to the pasta and toss to coat again. The pasta should be very warm at this point but not hot enough to melt the Parmesan. You want the Parmesan to sort of coat the pasta instead of melting in.

Lemon being squeezed into the pasta in the pot

Squeeze about 1 Tbsp lemon juice over the pasta and season with about ¼ tsp salt. Toss to coat one final time. Give the pasta a taste and adjust the salt, pepper, or Parmesan to your liking.

Overhead view of an oval platter full of lemon parsley pasta with lemon slices as garnish

Serve warm! (I sliced up the remaining lemon and used it as garnish, but that’s just me being extra fancy.)

The post Lemon Parsley Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen

This Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen is an easy way to upgrade this inexpensive convenience food. It’s super quick, filling, and can be customized a hundred ways.

The post Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Consider this a PSA rather than a recipe, because this idea is certainly not new. But if you don’t know about adding peanut butter to your instant ramen noodles, I’m here to tell you that it’s something you definitely need to try. This Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen is super quick, filling, and can be customized a hundred ways. So let me show you the basics and then you can make it your own!

Overhead view of a bowl of spicy peanut ramen in a bowl with lime wedges
Shown with lime wedges (optional, not required for full flavor)

What Kind of Peanut Butter to Use

I highly suggest using natural-style peanut butter, which means it’s just ground up peanuts and maybe a little salt, no sugar, no added oils. The peanut flavor is much stronger with this type of peanut butter than it is with the more processed and heavily sugared varieties.

If you don’t have a natural-style peanut butter available, you may need to reduce the brown sugar listed in the recipe below to make up for the sugar that is already in the peanut butter.

Can I Make it Not Spicy?

The chili garlic sauce doesn’t just add heat, it also adds garlic and acidity, which round out the sauce. So, to make a non-spicy version of this recipe you can add those ingredients individually, by making something similar to this Peanut Lime Dressing instead.

What Else Can I Add to my Peanut Butter Ramen?

You can add all sorts of proteins or vegetables to your Spicy Peanut butter Ramen to make it new and interesting every time. Here are some ideas:

  • Cooked Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach
  • Lime
  • Baked tofu
  • Red onion
  • Shredded carrot
  • Snow peas
  • Edamame
  • Sesame seeds

Do I Need the Ramen Seasoning Packet?

The recipe below is designed to be made without the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen. If you prefer to use the seasoning packet, you will want to skip the soy sauce, which adds salt to the ramen in place of the seasoning packet.

Ramen noodles being lifted from the bowl with a fork
Ramen noodles being lifted from the bowl with a fork

Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen

Adding peanut butter to your instant ramen is an easy way to upgrade this inexpensive comfort food with more flavor and protein.
Total Cost $0.83 recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 621.8kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp natural-style peanut butter $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce* $0.13
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.06
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.04
  • 1 3oz. packet instant ramen (seasoning discarded) $0.25
  • 1 green onion, sliced $0.10

Instructions

  • Combine the peanut butter, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, take ¼ cup of the water and stir it into the peanut-chili paste until it forms a smooth, pourable sauce.
  • Add the ramen noodles (without seasoning packet) to the boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes, or just until the noodles are tender.
  • Drain the noodles, then return them to the pot with the heat turned off. Pour the peanut sauce over top and stir to combine. Top with sliced green onions and serve immediately.

Notes

*You can sub sriracha for the chili garlic sauce, if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 621.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 69.2g | Protein: 17.8g | Fat: 30.3g | Sodium: 2675.4mg | Fiber: 4.9g
Overhead view of a bowl of spicy peanut butter ramen with a fork in the middle

How to Make Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen – Step by Step Photos

peanut butter and chili paste in a bowl

Begin by stirring together 2 Tbsp natural-style peanut butter, 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (or sriracha), 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar until it forms a smooth paste.

jar of chili garlic sauce

This is what the chili garlic sauce bottle looks like, if you want to look for it in the store. You can find this in most major grocery stores, in the international aisle. If you can’t find this, you can use sriracha.

Hot water being poured into the peanut paste

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat for the ramen. Once it starts boiling, take ¼ cup of the boiling water and stir it into the peanut-chili paste, until it forms a smooth, pourable sauce.

Dry ramen noodles being added to a pot of boiling water

Then add the instant ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet) to the boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes or just until tender.

chili peanut sauce being poured over the drained ramen noodles

Drain the cooked noodles, then return them to the pot with the heat turned off. Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles and stir to combine.

finished spicy peanut butter ramen noodles in the pot

These noodles are definitely best when served immediately, so don’t let them sit around! Top with a sliced green onion and enjoy!

Front view of a bowl of spicy peanut butter ramen noodles with a fork

The post Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

I’ve been experimenting with shrimp a lot lately. Yes, it can be a little on the expensive side, but if you pair it whith an inexpensive ingredient like pasta, you can really stretch that dollar and work it into an affordable meal. This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is an incredibly easy (and FAST) recipe that will […]

The post Pesto Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve been experimenting with shrimp a lot lately. Yes, it can be a little on the expensive side, but if you pair it whith an inexpensive ingredient like pasta, you can really stretch that dollar and work it into an affordable meal. This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is an incredibly easy (and FAST) recipe that will make you feel like you’re eating a restaurant quality meal at home. So even if shrimp is just a once in a while special occasion splurge, you’ll still be saving a TON by making this splurge at home instead of having it at a restaurant!

Originally posted 12-28-2010, updated 8-27-2020.

Overhead view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a black fork in the middle

This recipe was originally posted in 2010. When updating this recipe I made only minor changes to the recipe yield, ingredient quantities, and preparation method. If you prefer the old recipe, you can reach out to us at support@budgetbytes.com and we can send you a pdf of the old version.

What Kind of Shrimp is Best for Pesto Shrimp Pasta

A smaller sized shrimp works best for this recipe so you get more shrimp pieces throughout the pasta. If you check your package of shrimp you’ll see a number range specifying the number of shrimp per pound. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp (more shrimp per pound). The shrimp I used were 41-60 size, or 41-60 shrimp per pound.

You can purchase your shrimp with or without the shell and tail, but you’ll want to remove the shell and tail before cooking. You can leave the tail on, but I find that tail-on shrimp is more difficult to eat in a dish like pasta because you have to stop and remove the tail with every bite.

This recipe is written for raw (frozen or fresh) shrimp, but you can use pre-cooked shrimp if that’s what you have available. To use pre-cooked shrimp, simply add them into the pasta at the end.

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp

If you know you’ll be making this recipe a head of time, you can transfer your shrimp from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. If you didn’t plan ahead, don’t worry! Shrimp thaws very quickly under running water. I just place my shrimp in a colander and run cool water over the shrimp for a few minutes until it has thawed. Once thawed and peeled, make sure to dab the shrimp dry with paper towel.

Can I Substitute the Shrimp?

If you’re not into shrimp, this recipe would also be good using diced chicken, sea scallops, or even chopped artichoke hearts! 

Tips for Cooking Shrimp

Shrimp can be intimidating for people who have never cooked it before, but I promise it’s very easy! The trick is that shrimp cooks very quickly and if you continue to cook it longer than necessary, the proteins will continue to contract leaving you with tough, rubbery shrimp. So watch your shrimp closely and remove them from the skillet just as soon as they turn pink and opaque. It only takes a few minutes (depending on the shrimp’s size and the heat level under the skillet)!

What Kind of Pesto to Use

Pesto is another ingredient that can be pricy if you don’t shop around. I used pesto from ALDI, which is very affordable, but if you don’t have an ALDI store near you check to see if your grocery store has their own store brand, or look for Classico or Barilla brand pesto, which usually tends to be a bit more affordable. I used basil pesto for this pasta, but I bet it would also be great with other flavors!

Overhead view of the skillet full of pesto shrimp pasta

 
Overhead view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a black fork in the center

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is a restaurant quality meal that you can make in under 30 minutes! The perfect quick weeknight meal.
Total Cost $8.07 recipe / $2.02 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 446.23kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined $4.99
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta $0.53
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided $0.24
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.49
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $0.55
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.11

Instructions

  • If using frozen shrimp, place them in a colander and run cool water over top to thaw (this should only take a few minutes). Peel the shrimp and remove the tails. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
  • 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 seven minutes). Reserve about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the dish. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the prepared shrimp and sauté just until the shrimp turns pink and opaque (2-3 minutes). Remove the cooked shrimp to a clean bowl.
  • Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and add the grape tomatoes and minced garlic. Continue to sauté over medium until the tomatoes begin to burst and release their juices. If the garlic begins to brown before the tomatoes have burst, add a couple tablespoons of water to the skillet to slow the browning.
  • Once the tomatoes have broken down in the skillet, add the cooked and drained pasta, ¼ cup pesto, and about half of the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat everything in the pesto, adding more of the pasta water if needed to loosen the pasta and spread the pesto over everything.
  • Finally, return the cooked shrimp to the skillet and stir to combine with the pasta. Top with grated Parmesan, then serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 446.23kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.3g | Protein: 26.4g | Fat: 15.58g | Sodium: 602.68mg | Fiber: 3.78g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Try These Other Budget-Friendly Shrimp Recipes:

Front view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a fork twirling the pasta in the center

How to Make Pesto Shrimp Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Shrimp Package

This is the shrimp I used. 41-60 size (that means 41-60 shrimp per pound) and this is a 12oz. bag. To thaw the shrimp I placed them in a colander and ran cool water over them for a few minutes, or until they were thawed enough to peel and remove the tails. Once thawed, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove the excess water.

A measuring cup scooping out starchy pasta water from the pot

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add ½ lb. angel hair pasta to the pot and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining in a colander. You can begin cooking the shrimp while the pasta boils.

Cooked shrimp in a skillet

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once the skillet and oil are hot, add the shrimp and sauté just until they are pink and opaque (2-3 minutes), then remove them from the skillet to a clean bowl. Make sure not to over cook them!

Grape tomatoes and garlic in the skillet

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the pint of grape tomatoes and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic and tomatoes over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to burst and break down.

Cooked grape tomatoes

If the tomatoes are not very ripe they may take a while to burst, so if your garlic begins to brown before the tomatoes start releasing their juices, you can add a couple tablespoons of water to the skillet to prevent the garlic from browning. The juices from the tomatoes will create a sweet jam-like sauce on the bottom of the skillet.

Cooked pasta and pesto added to the skillet with tomatoes and garlic

Once the tomatoes are at least half way broken down, add the cooked and drained pasta, ¼ cup pesto, and about half of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Stir to coat everything in the pesto, adding more of the starchy pasta water if needed to loosen things up and help the pesto spread.

Cooked shrimp added to the pasta

Finally, return the cooked shrimp back to the skillet and stir to combine with the pasta and pesto.

finished pesto shrimp pasta in the skillet

I like to add just a little (about 1 Tbsp) grated Parmesan on top, and you can add some chopped parsley for color if you’d like (it’s not necessary for the flavor).

Overhead view of a finished bowl of pesto shrimp pasta with a fork on the side

Enjoy! (A little extra freshly cracked pepper on top doesn’t hurt, and if you’re into spicy try adding a pinch of crushed red pepper!)

The post Pesto Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously […]

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously rich sauce to smother the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure any herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

Originally posted 11-24-2013, updated 8-9-2020.

Creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet, viewed from above

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yep! Any short shaped pasta, like penne, rotini, or even macaroni will work fine for this recipe. You can use a longer type pasta, like fettuccine or linguine, but it’s a little harder to stir chunky ingredients, like the chicken and broccoli, into long pasta. Sometimes breaking it in half before cooking can help.

What Kind of Pesto Do You Use?

I used basil pesto from ALDI for this recipe because it’s super affordable. If you don’t have an ALDI store near you, Classico brand pesto and Barilla brand pesto also tend to be very affordable. 

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make a similar creamy sauce by substituting the cream cheese with about a ½ cup heavy cream, or replace both the chicken broth and cream cheese with 1 cup half and half. The sauce will be nice and creamy, but it won’t have that tangy cream cheese flavor that some people are not a fan of. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt at the end if you’re skipping the chicken broth.

Make it a Vegetarian Creamy Pesto Pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta can easily be made vegetarian. Just use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Front view of a bowl of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a fork lifting one bite

 
A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

A super fast creamy pesto sauce drenches tender pasta, chicken breast, and broccoli for an easy weeknight dinner.
Total Cost $5.48 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 606.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.67
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.00
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.12
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $2.49
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto $0.73
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.40

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil just until the pasta is tender, but still slightly firm in the center (7-8 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breast into ½-inch pieces. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and continue to cook until the outside of the chicken pieces are white, but they're still tender in the center (they will continue to cook as more ingredients are added).
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken and allow it to heat through. Once hot, add the cream cheese (cut into small pieces) and pesto. Continue to stir and cook until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth, creamy sauce with the pesto and chicken broth.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 606.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.58g | Protein: 37.18g | Fat: 28.33g | Sodium: 725.78mg | Fiber: 7.15g

How to Use Your Leftover Pesto

Not sure what to do with the rest of the jar of pesto? Try these recipes:

How to Make Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. bowtie pasta and continue to boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until it’s tender with a little firmness in the center. Add ½ lb. frozen broccoli florets and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more or just until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Diced chicken breast on an orange cutting board

While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, cut one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch chunks.

Broth being poured into a skillet with cooked chicken pieces.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add the diced chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is white on the outside, but still slightly tender inside (it will continue to cook as more ingredients are added). Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and allow it to heat through.

pesto and cream cheese added to the skillet with the chicken and broth

Add 4oz. cream cheese (cut into small chunks) and ⅓ cup basil pesto to the skillet. 

Smooth and creamy pesto sauce in the skillet

Stir and cook over medium heat until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth sauce with the pesto and broth. The cream cheese might look a little chunky as it’s melting, but keep stirring and cooking, it will smooth out once fully melted.

Finished creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet with a spatula

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or too thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up.

A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the […]

The post Gochujang Ramen with Tofu appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the things I like to add to my instant ramen to give it an upgrade, and now I have a new favorite ingredient—gochujang! This sweet-salty-spicy paste creates a rich broth with plenty of umami that I balanced with some fresh spinach and chunks of mild tofu. This Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to indulge that noodle craving!

Two bowls of gochujang ramen with tofu, a bowl of gochujang on the side

What is Gochujang?

If you’ve never heard of gochujang, it’s a Korean chile paste made with chile peppers, rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. Gochujang is really starting to trend in the U.S. because of its uniquely sweet-salty-spicy and UMAMI flavor. And because we’re all kind of over our infatuation with sriracha and looking for the next best thing. It’s those fermented soy beans that really set gochujang apart and give whatever you’re adding it to that extra “WOW” factor. So if you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your list!

Where to Buy Gochujang

Because gochujang is really becoming quite popular, you’ll probably be able to find some at most major grocery stores. My local kroger actually carries about 4-5 different kinds! I’m using this Sempio Gochujang. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, you’re sure to find a really good selection there, and probably much better prices. Want to try to make your own? Try this traditional gochujang recipe, or this quickie 5-minute gochujang.

To Use the Ramen Packet or Not to Use the Ramen Packet

Personally, I like to use my own broth when making ramen instead of using the little seasoning packet that comes with the noodles. I like the freedom of tweaking the flavors and salt content, but you can use the seasoning packet if you prefer. Gochujang has quite a bit of salt, so if you do want to use the flavor packet that comes with the instant ramen I suggest adding the gochujang to the water first (3 cups water), then adding a little of the flavor packet at a time until the broth reaches a reasonable salt level for you.

How Spicy is It?

Decently spicy, IMHO. You can reduce the amount of gochujang to make it slightly less spicy, if you prefer. Or, if you’re looking for non-spicy ways to spruce up your ramen, check out my post about 6 Ways to Upgrade Ramen, or my Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen.

What Should I Do With my Leftover Tofu?

This recipe uses half of a traditional 14oz. block of tofu. My first choice for using up the other half of the block would be to make a half batch of my Curried Tofu Salad. That stuff is to die for. You could also toss it into a stir fry, or chop it up, add some BBQ sauce and make yourself a BBQ Tofu Slider.

Gochujang ramen with tofu in the sauce pot on a yellow background with a black and white zig-zag napkin.

 
One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

Spicy gochujang gives this instant ramen extra oomph! Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to satisfy that noodle craving.
Total Cost $2.26 recipe / $1.13 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 322.15kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. extra firm tofu $0.90
  • 1 cup water $0.00
  • 2 cups vegetable broth* $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang $0.46
  • 1 package instant ramen* $0.19
  • 2 cups fresh spinach $0.25
  • 2 green onions $0.20

Instructions

  • Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Add the water, vegetable broth, and gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang is dissolved.
  • Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles (without seasoning). Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.
  • Add two handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.
  • Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.

Notes

*If using vegetable broth, discard the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen noodles. If using the seasoning packet, use 3 cups of water instead of 1 cup water and 2 cups vegetable broth. Add the gochujang to the water first, then add a small amount of the seasoning packet at a time until you reach the desired level of saltiness for the broth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 322.15kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.55g | Protein: 15.9g | Fat: 12.6g | Sodium: 1347.35mg | Fiber: 3.1g

side view of a bowl of gochujang ramen with chopsticks picking up a piece of tofu

How to Make Gochujang Ramen with Tofu – Step by Step Photos

cubed tofu on a cutting board

Drain a 14oz. block of tofu and cut half of it into ½-inch cubes. See the notes above the recipe for ideas for using the remaining tofu.

Gochujang broth in a small sauce pot with a whisk, tub of gochujang on the side

Add 1 cup water, 2 cups vegetable broth, and 2 Tbsp gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang has dissolved.

Cubed tofu being dropped into the pot

Add the cubed tofu to the pot. Adding the tofu before we start boiling the broth gives it a few minutes to start absorbing some of the flavor from the broth, as opposed to adding it at the end. Place a lid on the pot and bring the broth up to a boil over high heat.

Ramen noodles added to the pot, empty package on the side

Once boiling, add the block of instant ramen noodles (without seasoning packet). Let the noodles boil for about a minute, or just until they being to soften up and loosen up from the block.

Spinach added to the pot

Add a couple handfuls of spinach to the pot and stir it in until wilted. This should give the noodles just enough time to finish cooking as well.

Finished gochujang ramen in the pot

Slice two green onions and sprinkle them over the ramen just before serving.

One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Enjoy that spicy goodness!!

The post Gochujang Ramen with Tofu appeared first on Budget Bytes.