BIG Kale Pasta Salad

This Big Kale Pasta Salad is the perfect fast and filling summer lunch, packed with flavors, textures, and colors. Great for meal prep!

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I probably wouldn’t survive the summer if it wasn’t for big cold “meal salads” like this Big Kale Pasta Salad. It’s cold, filling, has tons of flavors and textures to keep me interested, and it’s just super easy to pull together. Oh, and it holds up REALLY well in the fridge, too. So yeah, it pretty much wins the “perfect summer meal” prize. :)

Overhead view of a serving bowl full of kale pasta salad with toast in the side.

What’s in the BIG Kale Pasta Salad?

I combined a few of my favorite things for this BIG kale pasta salad. I used my favorite homemade balsamic vinaigrette to massage the kale and make it a little more tender, then added some chickpeas for extra bulk, grape tomatoes for freshness, red onion for a savory note, and a little Parmesan for more umami. This one is hitting all the bases!

Dressing Options

If you’re not into balsamic dressing or you just don’t want to make your own, any store-bought vinaigrette-style dressing will be great with this salad. Italian dressing, Caesar dressing, or tomato basil vinaigrette would also be good.

What Else Can I Add?

As with most salads, this Big Kale Pasta Salad is extremely flexible. Here are some other great ingredient options that you could add in place of or in addition to what I used:

  • Grilled chicken
  • Kidney beans
  • Feta
  • Pickled red onions
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Olives
  • Shredded carrot
  • Toasted pita
  • Baked salmon
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Diced mozzarella
  • Cured meat (salami, pepperoni, etc.)

How Long Does it Last?

This salad will stay good in the fridge for about 4-5 days. Kale holds up beautifully to dressing and pasta salads in general also hold up very well. If you plan to meal prep the salad, I do suggest that you reserve the rest of the dressing after massaging the kale to add to the salad just before serving (to prevent the salad from drying out as it’s refrigerated).

A bowl of kale pasta salad next to the serving dish.
Overhead view of the serving bowl full of kale pasta salad.

BIG Kale Pasta Salad

This Big Kale Pasta Salad is the perfect fast and filling summer lunch, packed with flavors, textures, and colors. Great for meal prep!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Salad
Cuisine American
Total Cost $7.88 recipe / $1.31 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 2 cups each
Calories 355kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup olive oil $0.85
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar $0.42
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise $0.15
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.09
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Salad

  • 8 oz. penne pasta $0.67
  • 8 oz. chopped kale* $1.50
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $2.00
  • 1/2 red onion $0.22
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas $1.09
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.72

Instructions

  • Make the vinaigrette first. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mayonnaise, Dijon, minced garlic, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Set the dressing aside.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and boil until tender (7-8 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander and allow it to cool.
  • Add the kale to a large bowl. Drizzle ⅓ of the prepared balsamic dressing over the kale and then use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. Massage the kale for 3-5 minutes, or until it has wilted to half its volume.
  • Slice the grape tomatoes in half, thinly slice the red onion, and rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  • Add the drained and cooled pasta to the bowl with the kale, along with the tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, and Parmesan.
  • Pour the rest of the dressing over top, then stir the salad until everything is evenly combined and coated in dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Notes

*If not using pre-chopped kale, simply remove the stems and tear or chop the kale into small pieces. Rinse and drain the kale well before using it in the salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 355kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 316mg | Fiber: 4g
Close up side view of a bowl full of big kale pasta salad.

How to Make A BIG Kale Pasta Salad – Step by Step Photos

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette in a bowl with a whisk.

Make the dressing first. Whisk together ⅓ cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove of minced garlic, ½ tsp dried basil, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Set the dressing aside.

cooked penne in a colander.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add ½ lb. of pasta (any short shape). Boil until tender and then drain in a colander.

Bag of pre-chopped kale.

Meanwhile, begin to prepare the kale. I use this pre-chopped kale because it’s super convenient and also inexpensive. If you are using a bunch of kale instead of pre-chopped, simply remove the stems and chop the kale into 1-2 inch pieces. I used half of this one-pound bag for my salad.

Chopped kale in a bowl.

Before massaging the kale, it has a lot of volume and entirely fills my big salad bowl.

Massaged kale in the bowl, less volume.

Add about ⅓ of the prepared dressing to the kale and then use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. The kale will get softer and lose volume as it is massaged. Set the kale aside.

sliced red onion in a bowl of ice water.

Slice ½ of a red onion. If red onion is a bit too strong for you, you can soak it briefly in ice water to take the sharp edge off.

Sliced grape tomatoes

Slice one pint of grape tomatoes in half.

Ingredients for salad in the bowl with dressing being poured over top.

Add the drained and cooled pasta, tomatoes, sliced onions, one drained 15oz. can of chickpeas, and ½ cup grated Parmesan to the bowl with the kale. Pour the remaining dressing over top.

sald and pepper added to tossed salad.

Stir everything together, then season the salad to taste with salt and pepper.

Finished kale pasta salad.

Enjoy the salad immediately or refrigerate for later!

Overhead view of the serving bowl full of kale pasta salad.

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Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is an easy and inexpensive classic for potlucks, summer BBQs, or an easy side dish for dinner.

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You can’t have a summer potluck or BBQ without a big ol’ bowl of macaroni salad. It’s a classic summer comfort food. Cold, creamy, carby, and delicious. And cheap! Which is great because we all need that right now. But macaroni salad isn’t just good for gatherings, it’s also a great side to meal prep for your lunches for the week.

Overhead view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

What’s In Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni salad starts with a base of one of our favorite budget-friendly ingredient, macaroni. We add a little celery, bell pepper, and red onion for color and crunch, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs to give the salad more heft. All of this gets finished off with a super creamy dressing made with mayo, Dijon, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Classicly creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and delicious.

Adjust the Sweetness

There are two main camps when it comes to macaroni salad, sweet and not so sweet. I like my macaroni salad with just a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity and creaminess of the dressing, so that’s what you’ll get with the recipe below. If you like a sweet macaroni salad, you can simply add more sugar to taste (up to about ¼ cup sugar).

What Else Can I Add to Macaroni Salad?

Macaroni Salad is another one of those great catch-all recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients for color, texture, and flavor. Here are some ideas for other ingredients to add to your macaroni salad:

  • Cheddar cheese cubes
  • Broccoli florets
  • Peas
  • Black olives
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced ham
  • Chopped parsley

How Long Does Macaroni Salad Stay Good?

Macaroni salad can be kept in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. The macaroni will continue to absorb moisture as it sits in the refrigerator, so you may find it gets a little drier each day. If taking your macaroni salad to a potluck or BBQ, make sure to not let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.
close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is an easy and inexpensive classic for potlucks, summer BBQs, or an easy side dish for dinner.
Course Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost $4.89 recipe / $0.61 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 ¾ cup each
Calories 332kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs $0.48
  • 1/2 red bell pepper $0.75
  • 1/2 red onion $0.20
  • 2 ribs celery $0.47
  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise $1.16
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.18
  • 1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.10
  • 1 Tbsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Chop the salad ingredients first, so they're ready to go. Dice the hard-boiled eggs, bell pepper, onion, and celery.
  • Boil the macaroni until tender, then drain it in a colander. Briefly rinse the pasta with cool water to cool it off.
  • While the macaroni is boiling, prepare the dressing. Stir together the mayonnaise, Dijon, relish, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Combine the cooled and drained macaroni, egg, bell pepper, celery, and onion in a bowl. Pour the dressing over top, then stir until everything is well combined and coated in dressing.
  • Serve the macaroni salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 385mg | Fiber: 2g

How to Make Macaroni Salad – Step by Step Photos

Chopped salad ingredients on a cutting board.

Chop the macaroni salad add-ins first. Dice two hard-boiled eggs (here’s a tutorial on how to make hard-boiled eggs, if needed), ½ of a red bell pepper, 2 ribs of celery, and ½ of a red onion.

Cooked macaroni in a colander.

Next, boil 8oz. elbow macaroni until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water to cool down the pasta.

Dressing ingredients in a bowl.

While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp sweet relish, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Macaroni and salad ingredients in a bowl.

Add the cooked and cooled macaroni to a large bowl along with the chopped egg, bell pepper, celery, and red onion.

Dressing poured over the salad ingredients.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad in the bowl.

Finished macaroni salad in a bowl.

And now your macaroni salad is ready to eat! Make sure to keep it in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to serve it right away, and give it a good stir again just before serving.

close up side view of macaroni salad in a bowl.

Need more recipe ideas for your summer gatherings? Check out our round-up of Recipes for Summer BBQs and Potlucks.

The post Macaroni Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Pasta with Bacon and Peas is a quick, satisfying, and inexpensive meal that you can make with ingredients that you can keep on hand.

The post Pasta with Bacon and Peas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s always a good idea to rummage through your pantry and freezer every week to see what ingredients you might need to use up. This week for me it was a half box of pasta, some frozen bacon, and frozen peas that were almost too frosty. So I took my favorite quick meal template (pasta + Parmesan + greens) and added in bacon for a simple and delicious meal. This Pasta with Bacon and Peas is definitely going on my regular rotation list!!

Overhead view of a bowl of pasta with bacon and peas

What Kind of Pasta to Use

You can literally use any type of pasta you have on hand for this recipe, which makes it a great option for using up leftovers in your pantry. Spaghetti, bowtie, fusilli, penne, or even ramen would work! I happened to have these little pasta shells, which turned out so cute because the peas would get caught in the shells and that made them look like peas in a pod. :)

What Else Can I Add?

As with most of my recipes, I love creating a nice simple “base” that you can enjoy as is, or add to if you have other ingredients on hand. Here are some other things you can add to this Pasta with Bacon and Peas that would be super delish:

  • Top with a fried egg or chopped hard boiled egg
  • Toss in a handful of fresh spinach
  • Top with crispy fried onions
  • Sprinkle on a dash of malt vinegar
  • Add heavy cream to make it saucy
Pasta with bacon and peas in the skillet.
Close up overhead view of a bowl of pasta with bacon and peas.

Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Pasta with Bacon and Peas is a quick, satisfying, and inexpensive meal that you can make with ingredients that you can keep on hand.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $4.00 recipe / $1.33 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 601kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. pasta* $0.63
  • 6 oz. bacon $2.06
  • 1 small onion $0.32
  • 1 cup frozen peas $0.50
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.44
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) $0.01

Instructions

  • Bring a 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). Reserve about a half cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is boiling, cook the bacon. Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan, leaving about 2 Tbsp.
  • While the bacon is cooking, finely dice the onion. Add the diced onion to the remaining bacon grease and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the frozen peas and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the peas have heated through.
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
  • Top the pasta with Parmesan, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and crumbled bacon. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

Notes

*You can use any type of pasta available.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.3cups | Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 26g | Sodium: 724mg | Fiber: 6g
close up side view of pasta with bacon and peas in the skillet.

How to Make Pasta with Bacon and Peas – Step by Step Photos

Pasta shells in a pot of water

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining in a colander.

Cooking bacon in a skillet.

While the pasta is cooking, begin the bacon. Add 6oz. bacon (or however much you have on hand) to a skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease from the pan.

Sauteed onion in the skillet.

While the bacon is cooking, finely dice a small yellow onion (or half of a large onion). After removing the bacon from the skillet, add the diced onion to the remaining bacon fat and sauté over medium heat until tender (about 5 minutes). The moisture from the onion will help dissolve some of the browned bits of bacon from the bottom of the pan.

Peas and pasta water added to skillet.

Once the onions are softened, add 1 cup frozen peas and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until the peas have heated through.

Drained pasta added back to the skillet.

Add the drained pasta back to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.

Parmesan and bacon added to the skillet.

Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper to the pasta, then crumble the cooked bacon over top.

Finished bacon with pasta and peas.

Stir until everything is well combined and coated in Parmesan. Taste the pasta and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

Try These Other Quick Pasta Recipes

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Shrimp Alfredo Pasta

Shrimp Alfredo Pasta is quick and easy to prepare, but feels extra special and luxurious. It’s the perfect dish for special occasions!

The post Shrimp Alfredo Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I thought you might need a little somethin-somethin’ special to cook your honey (even if YOU are your own honey—show yourself some love). This extra luxurious Shrimp Alfredo is super easy and feels just as fancy as going out to eat. …Except way less expensive and way more special because you did it yourself. ;) I promise this creamy shrimp alfredo pasta will earn you some extra points!

Shrimp alfredo pasta in the skillet with tongs twirling the pasta

What’s in Shrimp Alfredo?

This shrimp alfredo pasta is what I like to call an “Amerifredo” or an American-style alfredo sauce. Authentic Roman alfredo sauce does not include any heavy cream or garlic, and it derives all of its creaminess and flavor from butter and really good Parmesan. But if you’re used to the “alfredo” served in American restaurants or bought in a jar in U.S. grocery stores, that’s what this recipe delivers.

This incredibly simple dish features a rich and luxurious Parmesan cream sauce, tender shrimp, and hearty fettuccine noodles. The simple creamy alfredo sauce is made with butter, garlic, heavy cream, and Parmesan, and it comes together in minutes. Then just add some fettuccine and juicy shrimp, which literally take about three minutes to cook in the skillet, and your fancy-pants pasta is done! I promise this one is so easy that anyone can do it!

Can I substitute the Heavy Cream?

The heavy cream is very important for creating the correct texture in this ultra-luxurious sauce, so I don’t suggest replacing it. The low-moisture content of the heavy cream allows the Parmesan to melt in smoothly without clumping like it would with milk. Another option, if you don’t have heavy cream, is to do a milk and cream cheese combination. The cream cheese will help the Parmesan melt in smoothly and produce a thick sauce, similar to heavy cream. You can use the sauce in my Sun Dried Tomato Pasta as a guide.

What Kind of Parmesan to Use

We all know that freshly shredded Parmesan is far superior to the grated Parmesan that comes in a can, both in flavor and melting ability. But I’m here to say this: if all you have is grated Parmesan, use it! I specifically tested this recipe using grated Parmesan just to make sure that it would be delicious no matter what. And if you can get the good kind you’ll just enjoy it that much more. :)

What to Serve with Shrimp Alfredo Pasta

Because this pasta is so rich and creamy, I highly suggest pairing it with a simple side salad to help lighten up the plate and cut through all that creaminess. Making sure to dress the salad with a light vinaigrette will help balance the heavy cream and not overpower the flavors in the pasta. To compliment the garlic in the alfredo sauce, you can also add a little homemade garlic bread on the side. :) Garlic bread is never a bad idea! And then a nice cool and crisp glass of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc would really make the meal complete!

Shrimp alfredo pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side
Shrimp alfredo pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo Pasta is quick and easy to prepare, but feels extra special and luxurious. It's the perfect dish for special occasions!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $8.40 recipe / $2.10 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 592kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined $4.99
  • 1/2 lb. fettuccine $0.67
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided $0.20
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.32
  • 1 cup heavy cream $1.00
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan* $1.08
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper (or to taste) $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • If your shrimp is frozen, thaw and peel before beginning. You can remove the tails or leave the tails on, if you prefer.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil for the fettuccine. Once boiling, add the fettuccine and boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve a ½ cup of the starchy water before draining the pasta in a colander.
  • While the fettuccine is boiling, prepare the shrimp and alfredo sauce. Place the peeled shrimp on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the shrimp with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl to coat the surface of the skillet with butter. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or just until opaque and pink (do not overcook the shrimp). Transfer the cooked shrimp to a clean bowl.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet along with the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is very fragrant but not brown.
  • Add the heavy cream to the skillet and whisk to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the cream to come up to a simmer.
  • Whisk the Parmesan into the hot cream until melted. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta and cooked shrimp back to the skillet with the sauce (make sure to add any liquid from the bowl of shrimp). Toss everything until coated in sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick or dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
  • Taste the pasta and add more salt or pepper if needed. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve!

Notes

*This recipe works with both grated or shredded Parmesan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 36g | Sodium: 852mg | Fiber: 2g
Close up of a bowl full of shrimp alfredo pasta with a fork

How to Make Shrimp Alfredo Pasta – Step by Step Photos

peeled shrimp in a colander next to a bowl of shrimp peels

Thaw and peel ½ lb. of medium (36/40) shrimp. Remove the tails, if preferred. Leaving the tails on is more visually stunning, but can be more difficult to eat since you’ll have to remove the tail with each bite.

A box of fettuccine open on one end with pasta coming out

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the fettuccine. Once boiling, add ½ lb. fettuccine and boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve a ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the fettuccine in a colander.

Dried and seasoned shrimp on a cutting board

While the pasta is cooking, begin to prepare the shrimp and alfredo sauce. Spread the shrimp out onto a clean cutting board. Pat dry with paper towel, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cooked shrimp in the skillet

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, swirl the butter to coat the surface of the skillet. Add the shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Cook the shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side or just until the shrimp turn opaque and pink. Do not overcook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl.

Butter and garlic in the skillet

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with 4 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or just until very fragrant but not browned.

Heavy cream being poured into a skillet with garlic

Add 1 cup heavy cream to the skillet. Whisk to dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Continue to heat over medium-low until the cream comes up to a simmer.

Parmesan being added to the cream in the skillet.

Add ¾ cup grated Parmesan to the simmering cream. Whisk until the Parmesan is melted into the cream and the sauce thickens. Season the sauce with ⅛ tsp salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Shrimp and pasta added back to the sauce

Add the cooked and drained fettuccine and cooked shrimp to the skillet with the sauce. Make sure to add any liquid that has accumulated in the bowl of shrimp because that will add extra shrimp flavor to the sauce.

Pasta and shrimp tossed in the alfredo sauce with tongs on the side

Toss the pasta and shrimp in the sauce until fully coated. If the sauce becomes too thick or dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and toss until it’s mixed into the sauce. Give the pasta a taste and add more salt or pepper if you’d like.

finished shrimp alfredo in the skillet with tongs

Finish with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley for color and serve!

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Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or a jumping off point for your own customization.

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have several flavored macaroni and cheese recipes on Budget Bytes already, but I realized I didn’t have one single plain, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe. Like, nothing fancy or unique, just straight up creamy, comforting, cheesy goodness! So that’s what I have for you today. It’s a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe made with a classic roux-based cheese sauce that will satisfy all of your cheesy pasta cravings. It’s amazingly delicious on its own, but I’ve also included a list of fun add-ins and other ways you can customize your mac and cheese and make it unique.

Overhead view of a bowl of mac and cheese with a fork

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

For this extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese, I did use slightly more roux and added about 30% more cheese than I generally do to my simple stovetop mac and cheese recipes. And I’m not even sorry about it. The thicker sauce and extra cheese made this mac and cheese so lusciously creamy and cheesy that I couldn’t stop sneaking forkfuls between photographs. AND the best part is that it even stays smooth and creamy when reheated in the microwave. Mac and cheese heaven! 🙌

What is a Roux?

This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (in this case, butter). The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

Cheddar is probably the most popular cheese for macaroni and cheese and sharp cheddar provides the most pronounced flavor. But if you want to experiment outside of the confines of cheddar, there are a ton of other cheeses that are great in macaroni and cheese! You can use one or a combination of cheeses to make your mac and cheese your own.

Here are some other cheeses that work great with macaroni and cheese:

  • Parmesan
  • Gruyere
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Parmesan
  • Chevre
  • Cream Cheese
  • Brie
  • Monterey jack or pepper jack

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

I know it’s convenient, but the anti-caking agents used in pre-shredded cheese will, without a doubt, affect the creaminess of your homemade mac and cheese. Or in a worst-case scenario, it will leave your sauce super grainy and chalky in flavor. Buy cheese in block form and take a few moments to grate it yourself. The cheese will not be as dried out and it will create a truly smooth and creamy sauce.

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

Here’s where mac and cheese can get really fun. In addition to changing the cheeses, you can switch up the herbs and spices, add in some veggies, or your favorite protein to make your own homemade mac and cheese creation. Here are some other fun ingredients to add to your mac and cheese:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Kimchi
  • Pesto
  • Sausage
  • Taco meat or taco seasoning
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sriracha
  • Peas
  • Tuna
  • Salsa
  • Rotel
  • Jalapeños
  • Sour cream
  • Cauliflower
  • Ham

Need Some Inspiration?

If the list of add-ins was a little too much to choose from, here are some other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes that I’ve already created that might help get you started:

Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot
Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or as a jumping off point for your own creation.
Total Cost $4.19 recipe / $1.05 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 610kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67
  • 3 Tbsp butter $0.30
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.84
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce* $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar, shredded $2.25

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • Place the butter, flour, and onion powder in a medium pot. Whisk and heat over medium until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbling, continue to whisk and cook for one minute.
  • After cooking the butter and flour roux, whisk in the milk. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk begins to gently simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy.
  • Turn the burner off. Season the white sauce with the salt and hot sauce.
  • Begin to add the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking it in until completely melted before adding more. Continue until all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it back over low heat only briefly to continue melting the cheese. Overheating the sauce can cause it to break and become grainy.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Serve the mac and cheese hot and enjoy!

Notes

*This amount of hot sauce does not make the macaroni and cheese spicy. It just  brightens the flavor a bit. You can also accomplish this with Dijon mustard (same amount).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Sodium: 787mg | Fiber: 2g
side view of macaroni and cheese in a bowl with a fork

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

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. It’s very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled “Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.”

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander. (This is the Barilla elbow macaroni, which has a slightly unconventional elbow shape and texture.)

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until it’s draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.

Roux being whisked in the pot

Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.

Milk being poured into the pot

Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat (keep the pot over medium heat).

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice (other great options are dry mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, pesto, etc.).

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

When all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, the cheese sauce is complete. You can give it a taste at this point and adjust the seasonings if you’d like. Remember, you want the sauce to be seasoned well because the flavor intensity will be diluted a bit once the macaroni is added.

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

Add the cooked and drained macaroni back to the pot and stir to combine with the cheese sauce.

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

And that’s it! Your homemade mac and cheese is done. Don’t tell me you don’t want to dive right into that pot of mac and cheese and swim around a bit. 😂

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!

The post One Pot Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a quick little one pot pasta I’ve been making lately with my leftover veggies. You can literally add in whatever you have on hand and it creates a tasty one pot meal with tons of color, flavor, and texture. It may not be revolutionary, but I think sometimes it helps to see what quick meals other people are making and this One Pot Veggie Pasta is my latest go-to quick fix. :)

Overhead view of one pot veggie pasta in a bowl

Use Your Leftovers

As far as one pot pasta goes, this recipe isn’t that revolutionary, but I love it for one main reason—it’s perfect for using up leftovers. Got two carrots left? Or maybe a half of a bell pepper. A handful of mushrooms? How about that partial bag of broccoli florets hiding the back of your freezer? They can all go in this super quick one pot pasta! The more colors and textures the merrier.

Use Your Favorite Sauce

Convenience is the name of the game with this quick weeknight pasta dish, so I used a jar of pasta sauce instead of making my own this time around. You can literally use any red pasta sauce, as long as it’s one you know you like. …Actually, I bet you could also turn this into a really tasty alfredo! *jots down notes for testing next week*

How Are the Leftovers?

As with any leftover pasta dish, the rotini does get a little softer as it is stored in the refrigerator. Personally, that has never bothered me or stopped me from eating leftover pasta, but if you’re sensitive to textures, you might not enjoy the leftovers of this pasta.

Success with One Pot Pasta Recipes

Learning how to cook a one pot pasta can take a little practice. It’s all about observing and adjusting. The goal is to have the pasta simmer in a small amount of liquid so that by the time the pasta is tender, there is only a small amount of saucy liquid left in the bottom of the pot. You need to simmer with the lid on (to hold in the steam) and stir occasionally. Every time you stir, check the pasta texture and the amount of liquid left in the pot. If the pasta is almost tender and there is still a lot of liquid, let it simmer without a lid. If the liquid is almost gone but the pasta is not tender, add a splash more water. Here are some more tips for cooking one pot pastas:

  • Use a pot with a thick bottom. Thin-bottomed pots will create hot and cold spots that tend to cook the pasta unevenly.
  • Use a burner close in size to the bottom of the pot. If the burner is too small the outer edges will not simmer and the pasta will cook unevenly.
  • Make sure the broth is simmering the whole time. If it stops simmering, the pasta will stop cooking and will become mushy.
One Pot Veggie Pasta in the pot half scooped
One pot veggie pasta in a bowl with a fork

One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!
Total Cost $7.99 recipe / $2.00 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 461kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1 zucchini $0.90
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1/2 lb. rotini (not cooked) $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 2 cups vegetable broth $0.26
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce $1.49
  • 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded (optional) $0.83

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic, dice the onion, and slice the carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • While the vegetables are sautéing, slice the mushrooms. Once sliced, add them to the pot with the other vegetables and continue sautéing.
  • While the rest of the vegetables are sautéing, dice the zucchini and bell pepper.
  • Once the bell pepper and zucchini are diced, add them to the pot along with the rotini, basil, oregano, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine. It's okay if the broth doesn't fully submerge the pasta.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.
  • Once the broth reaches a full boil, give the pasta a quick stir, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the pasta simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
  • Once the pasta is tender, add the pasta sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Top with the shredded cheese then place the lid back on the pot. Let the pasta heat for a few minutes, or just until the cheese is melted. Serve hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 1573mg | Fiber: 8g
Close up of one pot veggie pasta being lifted on a spoon

How to Make One Pot Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Onion carrot and garlic in the pot

Mince two cloves of garlic, dice one yellow onion, and slice 2 carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot

While the garlic, onion, and carrots are sautéing, slice 8oz. mushrooms (or you can buy pre-sliced). Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot and continue to sauté while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Chop one zucchini and one red bell pepper.

pasta, vegetables, and broth added to the pot

Add the chopped zucchini and bell pepper to the pot along with 8oz. rotini (not cooked), ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp oregano, and 2 cups vegetable broth.

Stirred but uncooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Stir everything together. Don’t worry about the pasta not being fully submerged in the broth. I promise it still works. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring the broth to a boil. When it reaches a full boil, give everything a quick stir, put the lid back on top, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Cooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Let the pasta and vegetables simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, until the pasta is tender and there is very little liquid left on the bottom of the pot.

Pasta sauce being poured into the pot

Add a 24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine.

Shredded cheese being added on top

Top the pasta with 4 oz. shredded mozzarella. Place the lid back on the pot and let the pasta sit for about 2 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted.

Finished one pot veggie pasta garnished with parsley

And then it’s done! I garnished with a little chopped parsley to make it pretty, but it’s totally unnecessary for flavor.

Close up side view of a bowl of veggie pasta with cheese

Enjoy!

Love One Pot Pastas? Try These Other Flavors:

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One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This creamy mushroom pasta is a rich, umami-filled delight that cooks quickly and easily in one pot. The perfect dinner for busy nights.

The post One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Where are all of my one-pot pasta lovers at? This one is for you! This One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta is a super-rich, umami-filled delight that is, as always, easily prepared in one pot. It’s the perfect comfort at the end of a long tiring work day. And don’t forget to make a little garlic bread to serve on the side. ;)

A fork twirling creamy mushroom pasta on a plate

What Kind of Mushrooms to Use

I like baby bella mushrooms for this pasta because they are not too expensive and they have a nice deep color that adds a lot to the plate. You can use white button mushrooms if needed, but they do have a slightly more mild flavor. You could also use full-sized portobello mushrooms, just slice them into smaller pieces before sautéing.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

I use heavy cream in this recipe which creates a super-rich and luscious sauce for the pasta. Because it’s so thick, it also helps the Parmesan to melt into the sauce without clumping. Milk, which has a much higher water content, will produce a thinner sauce and you may have difficulty getting the Parmesan to melt in instead of clumping. One way I’ve gotten around this in the past is to use a combination of milk and cream cheese. The cream cheese both emulsifies the Parmesan and thickens the sauce (see how the technique is used in Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta).

What Else Can I Add?

This creamy mushroom pasta is kind of a simple pleasure, but you can add more if you’re craving something more complex. Try adding in a few handfuls of fresh spinach toward the end for a little color. You could also top the pasta with some grilled chicken for a little more oomph.

What Kind of Pot to Use

I used a 3-quart deep skillet for this pasta, but you can use any pot or Dutch oven that has a wide bottom and a lid. Make sure to use a burner on your stovetop that is similar in size to the bottom of your pot or skillet to ensure even heating.

TIPS FOR COOKING ONE POT PASTAS:

Getting one pot pasta just right can take some practice, so if you find you’re having trouble, here are a few tips:

  • Stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Replace the lid each time to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • Make sure the pasta is simmering the whole time. If the liquid is not simmering, the pasta will not cook. The temperature setting needed to maintain a simmer can vary depending on your stove top and cookware.
  • Use heavy cookware. Skillets and pots that are thin on the bottom don’t heat evenly and do not yield good results with one pot pastas because some areas of the pot will be simmering, while other areas are not.
  • Keep the lid in place at all times when not stirring. This holds in the steam and helps the pasta cook more evenly.
  • Watch the pasta. One pot pastas are a little like riding a bike. You have to observe and adjust as you go. If the liquid is almost all absorbed before the pasta is tender, add a little more water. If the pasta is almost tender, but there is still a lot of liquid, allow it to simmer without a lid for the last couple of minutes.
pasta twirled around tongs in the skillet
Close up of pasta being twirled around the tongs in the skillet

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This creamy mushroom pasta is a rich, umami-filled delight that cooks quickly and easily in one pot. The perfect dinner for busy nights.
Total Cost $3.74 recipe / $0.94 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 388kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms $1.49
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 8 oz. fettuccine $0.67
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth $0.33
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.26
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.44

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms.
  • Add the butter and garlic to a deep skillet and sauté over medium heat for one minute. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened, all of their moisture has evaporated from the skillet, and the edges are beginning to brown.
  • Add the fettuccine to the skillet along with the vegetable broth and stir to combine. It's okay if the broth doesn't fully submerge the pasta.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, give the pasta a quick stir, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Continue to let the pasta simmer in the broth for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), or until the pasta is tender. There should be a little saucy liquid left in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the heavy cream to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn the heat off then add the Parmesan and continue to stir the pasta until the Parmesan is melted. Give the pasta a taste and add salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 829mg | Fiber: 2g
Overhead view of creamy mushroom pasta on a plate with a fork

How to Make One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Sliced mushrooms on a cutting board

Mince four cloves of garlic and slice 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms.

Garlic and butter in the skillet

Add the garlic and butter to your skillet or pot and sauté over medium heat for about one minute.

Sautéed mushrooms in the skillet

Add the mushrooms to the skillet along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid, it has evaporated from the bottom of the skillet, and the mushrooms begin to turn golden brown on the edges.

fettuccine in the skillet, broth being poured in

Add 8 oz. fettuccine to the skillet along with 2.5 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine. It’s okay if the pasta is not fully submerged. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.

Cooked Pasta being pulled to the side with a pasta spoon

When the broth reaches a full boil, give the pasta a quick stir to loosen any noodles that may have stuck to the bottom. Replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, or just above low, so that the broth maintains a simmer. Simmer the noodles, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid each time, until the pasta is tender. There should be a small amount of gravy-like broth on the bottom of the skillet.

heavy cream being poured into the skillet

Add ⅓ cup heavy cream to the pasta and stir to combine.

Parmesan being sprinkled over the pasta

Turn the heat under the skillet off. Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine. The residual heat from the pasta should begin to melt the Parmesan.

Finished one pot creamy mushroom pasta in the skillet

Give the pasta a taste and adjust the salt or pepper to your liking. I usually like to add a little freshly cracked black pepper on top for a little pop!

Pasta being twirled around tongs in the skillet

Try These Other Creamy One Pot Pasta Recipes

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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.