Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

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

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

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

What is Gochujang?

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

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

Fresh or Frozen Pineapple?

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

Substitutions

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

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

What to Serve with Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

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

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

Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

Cucumber, pineapple and cilantro in a bowl

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

Gochujang dressing in a bowl

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

Dressing being poured over cucumbers and pineapple

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

Finished spicy pineapple cucumber salad in a bowl

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

front view of a bowl full of spicy pineapple cucumber salad

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Pesto Chickpea Salad

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

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

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

Pesto Chickpea Salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

How to Serve Pesto Chickpea Salad

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

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

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

How Long Does the Salad Keep?

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

Soak Your Onions for a Softer Flavor

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

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

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

Pesto Chickpea Salad

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

Love chickpea salads? Check out my Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Pesto chickpea salad on a bun with greens

How to Make Pesto Chickpea Salad – Step By Step Photos

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

Chickpeas, parsley, and red onion in a bowl

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

Dressing added to chickpeas in the bowl

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

Slightly mashed chickpea salad in the bowl

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

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

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat!

close up of pesto chickpea salad on a cracker

So much flavor, so little effort. ;)

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Broccoli Cheddar Pizza

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

The post Broccoli Cheddar Pizza appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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

Overhead view of a broccoli cheddar pizza

Pizza Crust Options

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

Can You Use Fresh Broccoli?

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

What Else Can I Add?

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

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

Broccoli Cheddar Pizza

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

Ingredients

Herby White Sauce

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

Pizza Toppings

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Nutrition

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

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Pizza – Step by Step Photos

Herby white sauce ingredients (minus milk) in the saucepot

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

Finished herby white sauce on a spoon in the sauce pot

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

White sauce being spread onto pizza dough

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

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

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

Broccoli added to the pizza

Add the chopped broccoli on top of the white sauce.

pizza topped with shredded cheddar

Finally, top with 6oz. shredded cheddar.

Baked broccoli cheddar pizza on the pizza pan

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

Close up of sliced broccoli cheddar pizza

Slice the pizza into eight pieces, then serve!

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No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Kind of Nut Butter Can I Use?

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

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

Choose Your Chocolate

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

How to Store Peanut Butter Bars

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

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

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

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

Graham crackers in a food processor

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

Graham cracker crumbs in a food processor

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

Peanut butter and butter in a bowl

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

Graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar added to the peanut butter

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

Peanut butter base mixture in the bowl with a spoon

Stir until it forms an even paste-like mixture.

peanut butter base spread into a parchment lined baking dish

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

Chocolate chips and peanut butter in a bowl

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

Melted chocolate being spread over the peanut butter base

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

Mini pretzels being pressed into the melted chocolate

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

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars being cut

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

peanut butter bars in a freezer bag

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

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

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Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach

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

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

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

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

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

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

How to Use Leftover Pesto

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

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

What Else Can I Add to Pesto Mac and Cheese?

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

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

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

Creamy Pesto Mac and Cheese with Spinach

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Video

Nutrition

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

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

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

Macaroni being poured into a pot of boiling water

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

Thawed spinach in a bowl

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

Butter and flour being whisked in a sauce pot

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

Milk being poured into the sauce pot with the roux

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

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

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

Grated Parmesan being added to the sauce pot

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

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

Then whisk in 1/4 cup basil pesto.

Salt and pepper added to the creamy pesto sauce

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

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

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

Finished creamy pesto mac in a pot with a large spoon

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

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

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

Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach - BudgetBytes.com

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Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

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

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

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

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

Pasta Options

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

Salad Dressing Options

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

Is the Broccoli Raw??

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

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

Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

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

Ingredients

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

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

Salad

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

tomato paste, vinegar, and herbs in a bowl

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

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

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

Cooked rotini in a colander

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

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

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

Broccoli pasta salad ingredients in a bowl

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

Tomato vinaigrette being poured over the pasta salad ingredients

Pour the tomato vinaigrette over top…

Finished broccoli pasta salad in a bowl with a red spatula

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

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Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus is an easy side dish with vibrant flavors that pair well with grilled or roasted meat.

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I get so excited for asparagus season every year! Not only are they way less expensive when in season, but they’re also just so much more delicious. And because the price is just so inflated the rest of the year, I pretty much save all my asparagus eating for the spring, when they’re in season. This simple method for Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus is one of the easiest ways to prepare asparagus and it’s so scrumptious that I could just about eat the entire bunch myself. Consider that a fair warning. ;)

Originally posted 3/5/2011, updated 4/16/2021.

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus on a white roasting pan with lemon wedges

Why I Love Roasted Asparagus

There are several ways to cook asparagus, but roasting takes first prize for me. Roasting kind of concentrates the flavor, so you get a much more deep, savory flavor than lighter cooking methods like steaming or sautéing. The edges get a little brown and crispy, which gives them so much wonderful texture. They’re just a delight to eat.

When is Asparagus Season?

As I mentioned in the introduction, asparagus is definitely one of those vegetables that you want to buy in season to get the best price and flavor. Asparagus are in season during the spring months, or from late February to early June, depending on where you live.

How to Pick Good Asparagus

Avoid choosing asparagus that aren’t kept moist at the grocery store. Check the cut ends to make sure they’re not dry (even better if they’re displayed with cut ends in water), and make sure the asparagus itself is crisp and not soft or rubbery. The flowering end should be tightly closed to the stalk.

What to Serve with Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus are a classic, simple side dish for roasted or grilled meats. These asparagus would go great with Lemon Pepper Chicken, Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Honey Mustard Pork Chops, or Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions.

Close up overhead shot of lemon garlic roasted asparagus on the sheet pan
Lemon Garlic Rosted Asparagus on a sheet pan with lemon wedges

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus is an easy side dish with vibrant flavors that pair well with grilled or roasted meat.
Total Cost $3.13 recipe / $0.78 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 56.28kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus (1 lb.) $1.88
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.89

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse the asparagus well, then trim off the dry or woody end of the stem (usually about one inch needs to be removed from the ends). Mince two cloves of garlic.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup, if desired. Place the trimmed asparagus on the baking sheet along with the minced garlic. Drizzle the olive oil over top, then add the salt and pepper. Toss the asparagus until they are coated in garlic, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Transfer the asparagus to the preheated 400ºF oven and roast for 20 minutes or until they have browned to your liking (roasting time may vary depending on the girth of your asparagus). Stir once halfway through roasting.
  • While the asparagus are cooking, zest the lemon using the fine side of a box grater or a small-holed cheese grater. You'll need about 1 tsp zest. After zesting, cut the lemon into wedges.
  • Once the asparagus are roasted, add the lemon zest and a couple squeezes of lemon juice. Toss to coat. Taste and adjust the salt or lemon as desired. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 56.28kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.05g | Protein: 2.58g | Fat: 3.63g | Sodium: 106.38mg | Fiber: 2.45g

How to Make Lemon Garlic Roasted Asparagus – Step by Step Photos

Ends trimmed off asparagus

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse one bunch of asparagus (about 1 lb.), then trim off the dry woody ends. Sometimes I leave the rubber bands on while trimming to make it a bit easier. Mince two cloves of garlic.

asparagus, garlic, oil, and salt on a baking sheet

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if you prefer easy cleanup. Add the trimmed asparagus to the baking sheet along with the minced garlic, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and about 1/8 tsp salt and pepper. Toss the asparagus until they’re coated in oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the oven to roast.

Zested lemon on a cutting board with a small-holed cheese grater

While the asparagus is roasting, zest one lemon. You’ll need about 1 tsp lemon zest. After zesting, cut the lemon into wedges.

Lemon being squeezed on roasted asparagus

Roast the asparagus for about 20 minutes, or until they are browned to your liking (roasting time may vary depending on the girth of your asparagus). Stir the asparagus about halfway through roasting. Once roasted, add the lemon zest and a couple squeezes of lemon juice. Toss the asparagus to coat in lemon. Taste and adjust the salt or lemon to your liking.

Lemon Garlic Rosted Asparagus on a sheet pan with lemon wedges

Serve the roasted asparagus with the remaining lemon wedges. Enjoy! And try not to eat the entire batch yourself…

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Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These rich, fluffy, and cheesy Cheddar Drop Biscuits are as easy as it gets when it comes to homemade biscuits.

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OMG, these cheddar drop biscuits are to die for. They’re tender, rich, fluffy, and a total cheddar-cheesy delight. Plus, since there’s no kneading or shaping, they’re insanely easy. So if you’re looking for a simple biscuit or roll to serve with dinner, give these cheddar biscuits a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheddar drop biscuits on a wire cooling rack, on a blue surface

What is a “Drop Biscuit”?

Drop biscuits are the easiest biscuit to make in the biscuit world. Why? There’s no kneading, shaping, or cutting the biscuit. You literally just scoop up some batter with a spoon and then “drop” it onto a baking sheet. The dough for a drop biscuit does tend to be a bit more wet and sticky than a traditional biscuit dough to allow you to scoop it up with a spoon.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

No. Unfortunately, heavy cream is the magic ingredient in these biscuits. Because this recipe does not contain any butter, you need the high fat content of heavy cream to make up for its absence. The fat in the heavy cream is what allows these biscuits to turn out so deliciously light, fluffy, and tender.

Drop Biscuits are Freezer Friendly!

Like most breads and baked goods, these cheddar drop biscuits are freezer friendly! Which is great, especially if you’re a smaller household. To freeze these biscuits, just bake as usual and then allow them to fully cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. To thaw, simply allow them to come to room temperature, and then warm briefly in a hot oven.

How to Serve Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These tasty little biscuits make a delicious side for soups, stews, and chili. The cheddar scallion flavor makes a particularly nice side to vegetable soup or chili. They’d also be great with some Red Beans and Rice, Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew, Salisbury Steak, or even with your eggs and bacon at breakfast.

A cheddar drop biscuit cut in half, open sides facing camera
Cheddar drop biscuits on a wire cooling rack against a blue background

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These rich, fluffy, and cheesy Cheddar Drop Biscuits are as easy as it gets when it comes to homemade biscuits.
Total Cost $3.15 recipe / $0.26 each
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 12 biscuits
Calories 261.95kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2.25 cups all-purpose flour $0.35
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder $0.06
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1 tsp sugar $0.02
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded $0.85
  • 3 green onions, sliced $0.25
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream $1.55

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, garlic powder, and sugar until well combined.
  • Add the shredded cheddar and sliced green onions to the flour mixture and stir to combine again.
  • Add the heavy cream and stir until a soft sticky batter forms.
  • Spoon the batter onto the parchment lined baking sheet, about ⅓ cup for each biscuit. You should get about 12 biscuits. Make sure to leave an inch or two between each biscuit because they will expand as they bake.
  • Bake the biscuits for 18-20 minutes in the fully preheated 400ºF oven, or until they are lightly golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1biscuit | Calories: 261.95kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.24g | Protein: 5.81g | Fat: 17.76g | Sodium: 392.08mg | Fiber: 0.74g
Side view of cheddar drop biscuits on the wire cooling rack

How to Make Cheddar Drop Biscuits – Step by Step Photos

Dry biscuit ingredients in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together 2.25 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp baking powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp sugar.

shredded cheddar and sliced green onions added to the bowl

Add 4oz. shredded cheddar and three sliced green onions to the bowl with the flour mixture, then stir to combine.

heavy cream being poured into the bowl with the flour mixture

Pour 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream into the bowl with the flour mixture.

Sticky drop biscuit batter in the bowl

Stir until a soft, sticky batter forms.

Biscuit batter dropped into clumps on the baking sheet

Scoop up the batter with a spoon, about ⅓ cup at a time, and drop it onto the lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave an inch or two between each biscuit because they will expand while baking. You should get about 12 biscuits.

Baked cheddar drop biscuits on the baking sheet

Bake the biscuits in the fully preheated 400ºF oven for 18-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top.

Side view of baked cheddar biscuits on the baking sheet

Serve warm and enjoy that rich, fluffy, cheesy goodness!!

Cheddar drop biscuits on a wire cooling rack against a blue background

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Sesame Roasted Green Beans

Simply seasoned and roasted to perfection in the oven, these Sesame Roasted Green Beans are an easy and flavorful side dish.

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Want dinner to be easy? Oven roast everything. Haha! Seriously, it’s my favorite cooking method because it’s mostly hands-off and the dry cooking environment concentrates flavors and creates delicious caramelization. I usually steam my green beans, keeping them mostly fresh, but since I already had the oven going for some salmon, I decided to try to make Sesame Roasted Green Beans instead. They were super easy, tasty, and a nice change of pace from my usual!

Sesame Roasted Green Beans on a plate, viewed from above

What Do They Taste Like?

These Sesame Roasted Green Beans are seasoned really simply with garlic, some soy sauce for umami and salt, and sesame oil and seeds for an earthy base. So they’re simple, but good. They’re definitely more savory compared to light and fresh steamed green beans, so they’re great for the winter months when meals are little cozier.

Don’t Skip the Toasted Sesame Oil

Toasted sesame oil is such a magical ingredient and I always get questions about whether or not you can substitute or skip it and my answer is an emphatic “no.” Toasted sesame oil has an extremely deep nutty flavor that just can’t be replicated with any other ingredient. You only need a small amount to totally transform an entire dish.

Where to Find Toasted Sesame Oil

Thankfully, toasted sesame oil is becoming really easy to find and a lot of store brands are beginning to make their own (thank you, ALDI and Trader Joes!). You’ll usually find it in the international foods aisle at the grocery store rather than with olive oil or cooking oils, but of course, every store is different.

It’s not always labeled as “toasted” but you’ll know it’s toasted by the color. Toasted sesame oil is a deep brown color, whereas regular, un-toasted sesame oil is a light straw color, like canola oil. Un-toasted sesame oil has a very light flavor, and won’t provide the same depth that you’ll get with toasted sesame oil.

What to Serve with Sesame Roasted Green Beans

I served my roasted green beans with baked salmon (recipe coming later this week), but it would also be great as a side for Sesame Chicken, Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles, Sticky Ginger Soy Glazed Chicken, or Hoisin Stir Fry Bowls.

Sesame roasted green beans on a plate with salmon and rice
Sesame roasted green beans on a plate, viewed from above

Sesame Roasted Green Beans

Simply seasoned and roasted to perfection in the oven, these Sesame Roasted Green Beans are an easy and flavorful side dish.
Total Cost $2.99 recipe / $0.75 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 103.53kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. green beans $1.89
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.06
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil $0.24
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds $0.06

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Wash the green beans and break off the stems. Mince the garlic.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup, if desired. Add the green beans, minced garlic, cooking oil, and soy sauce to the baking sheet, then toss the beans until they are evenly coated in oil, soy sauce, and minced garlic. Spread the beans out evenly on the baking sheet.
  • Roast the green beans in the fully preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes take them out of the oven, drizzle 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sesame seeds over top. Give everything a good stir.
  • Return the green beans to the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes, or until the beans are slightly browned and blistered. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 103.53kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.73g | Protein: 2.6g | Fat: 7.65g | Sodium: 226.83mg | Fiber: 3.2g
Side view of sesame roasted green beans in a shallow bowl.

How to Make Sesame Roasted Green Beans – Step by Step Photos

green beans and garlic on a baking sheet, soy sauce being drizzled over top

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Rinse one pound of green beans and snap off the stems. Mince two cloves of garlic. Place the green beans and minced garlic on a large baking sheet (line with parchment for easy cleanup, if desired). Drizzle 1 Tbsp cooking oil and 1 Tbsp soy sauce over top.

Seasoned green beans on the baking sheet

Toss the green beans until they are evenly coated in oil, soy sauce, and minced garlic. Spread the green beans out evenly over the baking sheet.

Mostly roasted green beans, sesame seeds being sprinkled on top

Roast the green beans in the fully preheated 425ºF oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take them out of the oven, drizzle 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil over top and add 1 tsp sesame seeds. Toss everything together to coat.

Toasted sesame oil bottle

This is what my toasted sesame oil looks like, by the way. You can see the deep brown color that let’s you know it’s actually toasted. It’s usually in a small bottle, since you need so little to provide a lot of flavor, but this bottle from ALDI is quite large.

Finished sesame roasted green beans on the baking sheet

After adding the sesame seeds and sesame oil, return the green beans to the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes, or until they achieve your desired level of browning.

Close up side view of sesame roasted green beans in a shallow bowl

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Spinach Rice with Feta

I like to add vegetables into whatever I’m eating, whenever I can, and this Spinach Rice with Feta is such a great way to do that. The spinach adds just a little bit of flavor and color, leaving the rice just about as versatile as plain rice, all while giving you an extra little dose of vegetables with very little effort.

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I like to add vegetables into whatever I’m eating, whenever I can, and this Spinach Rice with Feta is such a great way to do that. The spinach adds just a little bit of flavor and color, leaving the rice just about as versatile as plain rice, all while giving you an extra little dose of vegetables with very little effort. It’s a great way to add just a little bit more interest to your plate without making your meal prep a lot more difficult.

Overhead view of Spinach Rice with Feta in an oval serving dish with a serving spoon

This simple side dish is inspired by Spanikorizo, a Greek rice dish with spinach and tomatoes (see an authentic spanikorizo recipe here). I pared it down and decided to make it more like a pilaf instead of a saucy tomato dish, and kept the flavors super simple and light, so it would go with just about anything. I also took a major shortcut and used frozen spinach, just to make it as fast and easy as possible (and also because I always have spinach in my freezer). The result is something I know I’m going to be making very often.

What Kind of Rice to Use

The recipe below is written for any type of long grain white rice (regular, jasmine, or basmati all work). Brown rice requires more liquid and a longer cooking time, which may leave the spinach overcooked. Short grain rice varieties, like arborio, will create a sticker end product.

Can I Use Fresh Spinach?

Yes, I used frozen spinach just to make my life easier, but you can certainly do this with fresh spinach, especially if you have some on hand that you’re looking to use up! I suggest chopping the spinach and sautéing it in the pot until wilted, just after sautéing the garlic.

What to Serve with Spinach Rice

This week I served this Spinach Rice as the base for a bowl meal, along with Yogurt Marinated Chicken and some grape tomatoes. This rice would also go great with my Beef Kofta Meatballs and Roasted Vegetables, Sheet Pan Greek Chicken and Vegetables, or Chicken Piccata.

Close up side view of spinach rice with feta on a serving dish
Close up overhead view of spinach rice with feta in a serving dish

Spinach Rice with Feta

This veggie filled Spinach Rice makes a great bed for grilled meats or vegetables, and adds an extra pop of flavor thanks to feta cheese.
Total Cost $3.06 recipe / $0.51 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup each
Calories 240.97kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. frozen chopped spinach $0.65
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.14
  • 1.5 cups long grain white rice $0.93
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.03
  • 2.5 cups water $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.05
  • 2 oz. feta, crumbled $1.10

Instructions

  • Thaw the spinach by either letting it sit out at room temperature for an hour, or by microwaving for 1-2 minutes. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach (it doesn't have to be extremely dry for this recipe, just make sure it's not pooling water).
  • Add the minced garlic and butter to a medium sauce pot. Sauté the garlic in the butter over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the spinach, rice, salt, lemon juice, and 2.5 cups water to the sauce pot. Stir briefly to combine.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the water to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low, and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the pot rest, without removing the lid, for an additional five minutes.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork, gently folding the spinach back into the rice (it tends to float to the top during cooking). Finall, sprinkle the feta over top and fold to combine again. Serve hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 240.97kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.48g | Protein: 6.13g | Fat: 6.4g | Sodium: 464.14mg | Fiber: 1.73g
Close up overhead view of spinach rice with feta in a serving dish

How to Make Spinach Rice with Feta – Step by Step Photos

Garlic and butter in a sauce pot

First, thaw ½ lb. frozen chopped spinach (either at room temperature or in the microwave) and then squeeze out the excess water. Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to a medium saucepot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

Thawed spinach added to the saucepot

Add the thawed and squeezed spinach to the sauce pot.

water being poured into the sauce pot with the rice and spinach

Also add 1.5 cups long grain white rice, ¾ tsp salt, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 2.5 cups water.

Stirred rice spinach and water in the saucepot

Give the pot a brief stir to make sure everything is combined (the spinach will float to the top). Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and bring it up to a full boil. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low, and let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let the rice rest for five minutes, without removing the lid.

Cooked rice being fluffed

After resting for five minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork, gently folding the spinach back into the rice as you fluff.

crumbled feta added to rice

Add the crumbled feta to the rice and fold it in to combine (you can save a little to garnish when serving, if you’d like).

Close up overhead view of spinach rice with feta in a serving dish

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