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.
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.
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.
How to Make Spicy Pineapple Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos
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.
In a bowl, stir together 1.5 tsp gochujang, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 Tbsp sugar until everything is dissolved.
Pour that “awesome sauce” over the pineapple, cucumber, and cilantro in the bowl, then give it a good stir.
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!
What do you get when a grilled cheese and a pepperoni pizza have a baby? A PIZZA MELT! (Sorry for yelling, I’m excited.) I used to eat these as an after-school snack when I was growing up because they’re super easy and who doesn’t want pizza? But now, decades later, I took this pizza-inspired sandwich to the next level by adding an herby-Parmesan butter to the bread which creates an extra crispy finish. It’s to die for and way better than the pizza melts of my teen years. You’ve got to try it!
What Kind of Bread To Use for Pizza Melts
You definitely want to use some sort of sturdy bread for your pizza melt. If you try to use a soft white sandwich bread it just won’t hold up to the moisture in the pizza sauce. I used a sourdough loaf, which gave my pizza melts even more flavor. Something like a rosemary olive oil bread or some homemade focaccia would also be amazing. Just make sure the bread is strong!
What Else Can You Put on a Pizza Melt?
A pizza melt, even in its most basic form (pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni), is awesome, but if you happen to have some leftover ingredients on hand and you want to throw them on there, go for it! Here are a few ideas:
Diced bell pepper
Sun dried tomatoes
I would caution against using any ingredient that is very wet, like fresh tomatoes or canned artichoke hearts, since this can make the bread soggy.
Use Medium-Low Heat for the Perfect Grilled Cheese
Making a grilled cheese with a perfectly browned exterior and melty-cheesy interior can take a little practice. My trick is to cook over a slightly lower heat. This gives the inside time to warm up before the outside gets too brown or burns. It might take a little more patience, but you’ll get the most perfectly delicious grilled cheese. …or pizza melt. :)
Pizza melts are like a cross between your two favorite comfort foods: pizza and grilled cheese. They're fast, easy, and the perfect quick meal!
Stir together the room temperature butter, grated parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl until evenly combined. Spread the Parmesan butter over one side of each slice of bread.
Flip the bread over so the un-buttered side is facing up. Place half of the shredded mozzarella on one slice of bread. Next, add small dollops of the sauce over top of the cheese, followed by the sliced pepperoni. Finally, add the remaining cheese. Place the second slice of bread on top to close the sandwich, butter side facing out.
Place the sandwich in a skillet and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown on each side and the cheese is melted on the inside. Cut the sandwich in half and serve!
Combine 1 Tbsp room temperature butter with 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan, and ½ tsp Italian seasoning. Mix them together until they form a paste.
Spread the Parmesan butter over one side each slice of bread.
Flip the bread over so the un-buttered side is facing up, then top one slice with ½ of the ⅓ cup shredded mozzarella. Add about 1 Tbsp pizza sauce in small dollops over the cheese (that helps make a barrier so the sauce doesn’t soak into the bread and make it too soggy).
Next add about six slices of pepperoni, and then top with the remaining shredded mozzarella. Place the second slice of bread on top, buttered side facing out.
Cook the pizza melt in a skillet over medium-low heat until it’s golden brown and crispy on both sides and the cheese inside is melted.
Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because […]
Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because when meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store you have to streeeeeeeeetch it any way you can. This Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet does just that. If you loved Hamburger Helper when you were growing up, you’re going to love this homemade version even more!
Originally posted 4-27-2016, updated 5-29-2021.
Hot Dog Relish is the Secret Ingredient
This cheeseburger pasta is super good even without the relish, but adding a couple spoonfuls of hotdog relish at the end really makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger. What is hot dog relish? It’s basically a dill pickle relish mixed with yellow mustard. If you can’t find hot dog relish at your grocery store, you can buy plain dill relish and mix a little yellow mustard into it (about a teaspoon).
Tips for Cooking One Pot Pasta
Cooking one pot pasta recipes is a little bit like riding a bike. You have to watch it and adjust to the nuances of the pasta as it cooks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Here are a few tips:
Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
Use a burner size close to the size of the bottom of your pot for even heating.
The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.
How to Serve Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta
I’m usually all about stuffing my recipes with as many vegetables as possible, but I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables into this recipe without making it less hamburger-like, so I’m just going to suggest you serve it with a simple side salad. Nothing fancy, maybe just some Romaine, tomatoes, and dressing. Keep it easy. :) And maybe Homemade Garlic Bread. Because every meal is better with garlic bread. ;)
Freeze Some For Later
Saucy pasta dishes like this freezer pretty well, IMHO, so if you’re cooking for yourself this would make a good cook-and-freeze-for-later dish. If you’re extra sensitive to texture changes like pasta getting slightly softer, though, you may not be a fan of the leftovers.
Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet
Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Finely dice the onion. Add the onion, olive oil, and ground beef to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned and the onion is soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.
Add the flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the skillet. Be careful not to let the flour burn.
Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet may not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay.
Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the liquid come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pasta simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
Add the shredded cheddar to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Stir the hot dog relish into the sauce and then top with sliced green onions. Serve hot.
If you love easy one pot pasta dinners, check out our One Pot Meals category!
How to Make Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet – Step by Step Photos
Start by finely dicing one onion. Add the onion, 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion and beef until the beef is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed (if you’re using 90% lean or higher, there probably isn’t anything to be drained off).
Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute. The flour will bein to coat the bottom of the skillet. This is okay, just be sure to watch it closely and not let it burn. The flour will help thicken the sauce and help the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce.
Add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cups beef broth. Stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
Add ½ lb. uncooked pasta shells to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet does NOT need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook. The steam in the skillet will help cook the pasta that is above the surface and the pasta will be stirred to ensure even cooking.
Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
Add 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the pasta until it is melted and creamy.
Finally, add 2 Tbsp of hot dog relish (mustard dill relish), and stir it into the sauce. I feel like the relish is what really made this taste like a hamburger, but if you’re not into relish you skip this last step and still have an amazingly cheesy beef pasta.
I had some green onions in the fridge, so I sliced a couple up and added them on top. They add just a little extra pop of flavor and nice visual appeal to the otherwise very monochromatic dish.
As soon as the warm weather of summer rolls around all I want to eat are crunchy vegetables and cold pasta salad. This Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad is my go-to with a medley of colorful vegetables, a tangy homemade vinaigrette, and plenty of ways to customize it based on what I have on hand, or what I’m craving that day. Plus it holds up great in the fridge, so it’s perfect for meal prep!
Originally posted 6-14-2011, updated 5-22-2021.
Perfect for Potlucks
This classic vegetable pasta salad is absolutely perfect for potlucks because it makes a huge batch and it goes with everything. Not to mention it holds up well to travel and is still super delicious after it’s been sitting on that picnic table for a bit. ;)
I used fresh broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, and parsley, plus threw in some roasted red peppers for fun. But you can add so many different vegetables to this mix. Here are a few more options:
Fresh bell pepper
Asparagus (steamed or grilled)
In addition to swapping out some of the vegetables, you can experiment with adding other ingredients to this salad to either add more flavor or make it into a full meal. Here are a few ideas:
Toasted pita bread
Mozzarella cubes or pearls
The recipe below includes a really basic tangy vinaigrette, but if you don’t have a well stocked pantry and want to buy a bottled dressing for this salad, any basic Italian dressing will do well. You could also choose something like a Caesar dressing (not creamy-style) or a Greek vinaigrette.
Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
This light and fresh Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad is perfect for summer BBQs and potlucks, or your weekly meal prep.
Make the vinaigrette first. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, oregano, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Set the dressing aside.
Cook the bowtie pasta according to the package directions (boil 7-10 minutes or until tender), then drain in a colander. Rinse briefly to cool the pasta, then let it drain well.
While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the vegetables. Chop the tomatoes, squash, zucchini, broccoli, and parsley. Slice the roasted red peppers (drained) and the red onion.
Place the pasta and chopped vegetables in the largest bowl you have. Give the vinaigrette a brief whisk, then pour it over the salad. Stir the pasta and vegetables until everything is coated in dressing. Give it a taste and add salt or pepper, if needed. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat.
How to Make Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad – Step By Step Photos
Make the dressing first. Whisk together ½ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 clove of minced garlic, ¾ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Set the dressing aside.
Cook 12oz. bowtie pasta (or other short shaped pasta) according to the package directions (boil until tender, drain in a colander). Give the pasta a quick rise to cool it off, then let it drain well.
While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Chop two Roma tomatoes, one yellow squash, one zucchini, and drain and slice one jar of roasted red peppers.
Chop one crown of broccoli into small bite-sized florets and slice ½ of a red onion. Roughly chop ½ cup parsley (not pictured).
When the pasta is cool and drained and all the vegetables chopped, it’s time to assemble the salad. Place everything in the largest bowl or container you have, give the vinaigrette a quick whisk, then pour it over the pasta and vegetables.
Stir until everything is really well coated in dressing. Give it a taste and add salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Make sure to give it a stir after refrigerating and just before serving to redistribute the dressing.
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!
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.
Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
This Broccoli Pasta Salad features a tangy homemade vinaigrette, nutty sunflower seeds, and creamy-salty feta.
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.
If you’ve been around Budget Bytes a while, then you already know how much I love bowl meals (we even have a whole category for them). So when several people asked me to replicate the Healthy Choice brand frozen Power Bowls, I needed to go see what all the fuss was about. I bought a few, and I have to say, they’re pretty good! …but expensive. So I knew I could do better. Here is my first riff off of the freezer aisle power bowls: Kale and White Bean Power Bowls. Pretty easy, VERY filling, and about half the price!
This particular bowl is inspired by the White Bean & Feta Salad by Healthy Choice. Since that one had some of my fav ingredients, I knew it was a great place to start. The bowl was nice and filling, but overall it was a touch too sweet for my taste. So here’s what I subbed:
Sun dried tomatoes instead of dried cranberries to reduce the sweetness.
A homemade vinaigrette that is more tangy than their sweet vinaigrette.
Walnuts instead of pepitas. Walnuts just seemed like a better fit for this flavor profile.
Brown rice instead of mixed grains (theirs has brown rice, red rice, quinoa, and barley). Using one grain was just more convenient.
P.S. My bowls cost about $1.50 each and the store bought version retails at my local grocery store for $3.99 each ($3.50 on sale when I bought them). WIN.
Make it Your Own
One of my favorite things about bowl meals is that they are endlessly customizable. If you don’t like some of the ingredients I used, you can just swap them out! Here are some options:
Spinach instead of kale
Quinoa or cauliflower rice in place of brown rice
Chickpeas or kidney beans in place of cannellini beans
Store bought Greek or Italian dressing in place of the homemade vinaigrette
How to Store Kale and White Bean Power Bowls
This recipe is made for meal prepping. You can keep these bowls refrigerated for about 4 days, or you can freeze them for a couple of months. I suggest using a microwave to reheat the bowls (if frozen, use the defrost setting first, then full power to heat through).
Kale and White Bean Power Bowls
These kale and white bean power bowls are full of flavor, texture, protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Perfect for meal prep!
Begin cooking the rice first. The remaining bowl ingredients can be prepared while the rice is cooking. Add the rice and 2 cups water to a saucepot. Place a lid on top and bring the water up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice sit with the lid in place for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff just before serving.
While the rice is cooking, make the vinaigrette so the flavors have a little time to blend. In a jar or bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the dressing aside.
Add the cooking oil and minced garlic to a large pot or skillet. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute. Add the chopped kale and salt. Sauté for a few more minutes, or just until the kale is wilted. Set the kale aside.
Finally, prepare the rest of the toppings. Rinse and drain the white beans. Chop the sun dried tomatoes and walnuts. Crumble the feta.
When the rice has finished cooking, it's time to assemble the bowls. Add about ¾ cup rice to each bowl or container, followed by ½ cup sautéed kale, ⅓ cup beans, and a tablespoon each of sun dried tomatoes and walnuts. Sprinkle a little feta over each bowl. Divide the vinaigrette between four small containers. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Reheat the bowls using a microwave just before serving, then drizzle with vinaigrette, stir, and enjoy!
How to Make Kale and White Bean Power Bowls – Step by Step Photos
Start with the brown rice because it takes about 50 minutes to cook and the rest of the bowls can be prepared while the rice cooks. Add 1 cup brown rice to a pot with 2 cups water. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. When it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, lid in place, for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
Next, make the vinaigrette so the flavors have a little time to blend. Combine ¼ cup olive oil, 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ Tbsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a jar or bowl. Whisk the ingredients to combine or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the dressing aside.
Next, prepare the kale. I buy pre-chopped kale because it’s super inexpensive and really cuts down on the prep work. I do give it an extra rinse, though, and pick out any large pieces of stems.
Add ½ Tbsp cooking oil and one clove of minced garlic to a large pot or skillet. Sauté the garlic over medium for about a minute.
Add 1/2 lb. chopped kale to the pot with ⅛ tsp salt and continue to sauté for a few minutes more, or just until the kale is wilted. Set the kale aside.
Prepare the last few ingredients. Chop about ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes and ¼ cup walnuts. Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of cannellini beans. Crumbled about 2 oz. feta.
When the rice is finished cooking, it’s time to build the bowls. Start with ¾ cup rice in each bowl or container, ⅓ cup beans, and about ½ cup sautéed kale.
Add about 1 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes and chopped walnuts on top, and a light sprinkle of crumbled feta. Divide the dressing between four containers. Refrigerate the bowls until ready to eat. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the bowls after reheating, then stir and enjoy!
A few weeks ago someone asked me to make a homemade version of Amy’s Tofu Scramble. I had never had it before, so I went out and purchased one right away so I could give it a try. Well, it totally exceeded my expectations and I knew I needed to make something similar at home. This vegetable tofu scramble was flavorful, filling, and had an incredibly simple ingredient list. Those are all things I love, so I immediately set to work recreating it!
It wasn’t hard to create a similar vegetable tofu scramble at home, but I did have to make a few substitutions. I used different vegetables than in the store-bought version because there were too many for me to fit into one recipe. I also leaned heavily on frozen vegetables to make this easy, but you can totally use fresh if you prefer (check suggestions below).
And lastly, I only made the tofu scramble part of the recipe here, whereas the store-bought version comes with hash brown potatoes as a side. I did end up making some of my Smoky Roasted Breakfast Potatoes to serve on the side, but during the recipe testing phase I ate the scramble on its own and it was delicious alone as well. For that reason, I’m keeping the roasted potatoes as a separate recipe, even though they come with the store-bought frozen meal.
Choose Your Own Vegetables, Fresh or Frozen
This recipe is super flexible, so it’s great for using up odds and ends of vegetables that you might have in your refrigerator or freezer. For the recipe below I used some mushrooms, frozen peppers and onions, and frozen spinach. You could also try adding some shredded carrot, finely chopped broccoli, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, green onions, corn, or peas.
I used frozen spinach, despite it not being very “pretty” because I had some in my freezer that was on the edge of being dried out. To use fresh spinach instead, just give it a rough chop so it’s in slightly smaller pieces, then just sauté it in the skillet with the tofu and other vegetables until wilted.
Don’t Skip These Ingredients:
While this recipe is very flexible, there are two ingredients that I wouldn’t skip: the nutritional yeast and the salsa. The nutritional yeast really adds a big dose of umami that just makes this recipe so much more satisfying. It’s a shelf stable ingredient, so if this is the first time you purchase it, don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to use it again. Here are a couple more recipes that use nutritional yeast.
The second ingredient you don’t want to skip is salsa. I find that the fresh, acidic flavor of the salsa really balances the whole dish and makes the flavors so much more complete. Sure, if you can’t stand salsa, go ahead and skip it, but to me, it really makes the entire dish.
Freeze Your Tofu for Better Texture
I highly suggest freezing your tofu beforehand because it changes the texture of the tofu. It’s hard to describe the change in the texture, but I dare say it’s a bit more sturdy after freezing and thawing, instead of being soft and crumbly. I usually just pop it in the freezer (in the original packaging) when I get home from the store, then transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw the day before I plan to cook.
How to Store Tofu Scramble
This vegetable tofu scramble will stay good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and can be reheated quickly using the microwave. Or, once it has fully cooled in the refrigerator you can transfer it to the freezer and freeze for a couple of months. I reheated my frozen tofu scramble using the microwave.
Vegetable Tofu Scramble
This super vegetable packed tofu scramble is an easy, freezer-friendly, fiber and protein packed meal that is perfect for meal prep!
Total Cost $5.65 recipe / $1.41 serving
Prep Time 15minutes
Cook Time 20minutes
Total Time 35minutes
Servings 41.5 cups each
Author Beth – Budget Bytes
14oz.firm or extra firm tofu$1.99
1/4tspfreshly cracked black pepper$0.02
1cupfrozen onions and peppers*$0.35
If you have the opportunity, fully freeze and then thaw the tofu in the days before making the recipe. While this isn't required, it does produce a better texture. When you're ready to make the recipe, remove the tofu from the package and press or squeeze the excess moisture out of the tofu. You can use a tofu press, or place the tofu on a plate, top it with a cutting board, then place something heavy, like a pot, and wait about 15 minutes while the moisture is pressed out. When tofu has been frozen, it's a bit more spongey, and I can squeeze or press most of it out just using my hands.
While the tofu is pressing, clean and slice the mushrooms. Thaw the frozen spinach, then squeeze out the excess water (I just squeeze it in my fist).
Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and place it over medium heat. When the skillet and oil are hot, tilt the skillet to coat the surface with oil. Crumble the tofu into the skillet, then sprinkle the garlic powder and pepper over top. Sauté the tofu for 2-3 minutes in the hot skillet. Don't worry if it starts to stick, the moisture from the vegetables will loosen it from the bottom of the skillet.
Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened. Add the frozen bell peppers and onions and continue to sauté until they have heated through. Finally, add the thawed and squeezed spinach, and continue to sauté until heated through again.
Finally, season the skillet with nutritional yeast and salt. Toss until everything is well coated in nutritional yeast. Give it a taste, and adjust the salt if needed.
Serve the vegetable tofu scramble topped with a couple of spoonfuls of salsa, and enjoy!
*You can use fresh in place of frozen. Simply add to the skillet and sauté until tender.
How to Make Vegetable Tofu Scramble – Step by Step Photos
You’ll need a 14oz. package of firm or extra firm tofu for this recipe. You’ll get the best texture if you fully freeze and then thaw the tofu beforehand. I usually pop it in the freezer, in the original packaging, when I get home from the store, then transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw the day before I plan to use it.
When you’re ready to cook, press the excess moisture out of the tofu. I find that when I freeze and thaw the tofu it’s a bit spongey, so I can just gently squeeze it with my hands. Otherwise, you’ll want to use a tofu press or place it on a plate, top it with a cutting board, then place something heavy on top and wait about 15 minutes. Wash and slice 8oz. mushrooms while the tofu presses. Thaw and squeeze 8oz. frozen spinach.
Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet and oil are hot, tilt the skillet to coat the surface. Crumble the pressed tofu into the skillet, then season with ½ tsp garlic powder and about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Sauté the tofu for 2-3 minutes. Don’t worry if it sticks to the skillet a little, as it will loosen once you begin to add some of the vegetables.
Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened.
Add about 1 cup frozen onions and bell peppers (or fresh) and continue to sauté until the peppers and onions are heated through.
Add the thawed and squeezed frozen spinach to the skillet and continue to sauté until the spinach is heated through.
Now it’s time to give the tofu scramble its final seasoning. Sprinkle in about 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast and ½ tsp salt. Stir until everything is coated in nutritional yeast, then give it a taste and adjust the salt if needed.
Serve topped with a couple spoonfuls of salsa, or pack it up into meal prep containers (I added some Smoky Roasted Breakfast Potatoes to my containers), and refrigerate or freeze for later!
Mardi Gras is definitely looking a little (okay, a lot) different this year, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t celebrating! I no longer live in New Orleans, but I still like to celebrate every year with a big pot of red beans and rice. I usually make a traditional pot of my Louisiana Style Red beans using dry beans, but I get so many questions about how to do it with canned beans that I decided to make this Quickie Red Beans and Rice recipe for those who just don’t have time to soak and cook dry beans. It’s not a traditional pot of red beans, but it’s faster, satisfying, and will make you wish you were watching parades and catching beads!
You’ll Still Need a Little Time…
Okay, I’m calling these “quickie” red beans and rice, but they do still need a little time to cook and for all those delicious flavors to blend and develop. But we’re talking more like one hour instead of several hours, like a traditional pot of beans.
What Kind of Red Beans Should I Use?
I used dark red kidney beans for this recipe because that’s the only canned variety that was available when I was shopping. When I make a pot of red beans from dry beans, I prefer small red beans instead of kidney beans because they make a smoother, creamier pot of beans. I usually can’t find small red beans canned, so kidney beans are the next best option. You can use either light or dark kidney beans.
Are Red Beans and Rice Spicy?
You can make these red beans and rice either spicy or mild, according to your preference. If you prefer mild, make sure the sausage you get is not spicy and skip the cayenne pepper in the spices listed below. If you want your red beans to be spicy, use a spicy sausage and increase the cayenne pepper to your liking.
Make Your Red Beans Vegetarian
It’s super easy to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan. Just skip the sausage and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. To make up for the richness of the pork fat that comes from the sausage, use coconut oil in place of the cooking oil listed below, and consider adding a couple extra tablespoons. This will make your red beans super rich and delicious! Here’s a link to my Vegan Red Beans made from dry beans.
Quickie Red Beans and Rice
When you don't have time to soak and boil dry beans, these Quickie Red Beans and Rice get you all the flavor in a fraction of the time.
Slice the sausage into rounds or half-rounds. Add the sausage and cooking oil to a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned.
While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic.
Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot with the sausage and continue to cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and black pepper to the pot and continue to cook and stir for a minute more.
Drain two of the cans of beans. Add the third can to a blender, with the liquid from the can, and purée until smooth. The puréed beans will help thicken the pot and make everything extra creamy. Add the drained beans, puréed beans, and chicken broth to the pot, then stir to combine.
Place a lid on the pot and allow the beans to come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the pot continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the red beans are simmering, begin cooking your rice. Add the uncooked rice to a pot with 3 cups water. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the pot 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 rice sit, undisturbed, lid in place, for an extra 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork just before serving.
After the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, give them a taste and add salt if needed (between the sausage and canned beans I didn't find I needed to add any, but salt content can vary so be sure to give it a taste). Serve the beans in a bowl, topped with a scoop of rice, and a few sliced green onions.
*If you can’t find Andouille sausage you can use any other type of smoked sausage. The sausage I bought came in a 14oz. package, but you can use anywhere from 12-16oz.
How to Make Quickie Red Beans and Rice – Step by Step Photos
Slice 14oz. Andouille sausage (or any smoked sausage, if you can’t find Andouille) into rounds or half-rounds. Add it to a large pot with 1 Tbsp cooking oil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has browned.
While the sausage is cooking, dice one yellow onion, one bell pepper, and three ribs of celery. Mince four cloves of garlic. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the pot with the sausage and continue to stir and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
Next, add 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Continue to stir and cook for about a minute more.
No, this is not a photo of a strawberry smoothie, but this is where the recipe gets a little interesting. Drain two 15oz. cans of kidney beans. Pour the third can, including the liquid from the can, into a blender and purée until smooth.
Add the two cans of drained beans and the one can of puréed beans to the pot. The puréed beans are going to help thicken the pot and make everything nice and creamy.
Finally, add 1 cup chicken broth to the pot and stir everything to combine. Place a lid on the pot and let it come up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. (Photo above is before simmering)
While the beans are simmering, begin the rice. Add 1.5 cups long grain white rice to a pot with 3 cups water. Place a lid on top and turn the heat on to high. When 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 it rest, with the lid in place, for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff just before serving.
Once the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, give them a taste and add salt if needed. Between the sausage and canned beans, I didn’t find that I needed to add any salt, but if your beans are tasting bland try adding a little. Salt doesn’t just make things salty, it actually helps our tongue distinguish different flavors, so it can really make a dish pop when used correctly!
Serve your red beans in a bowl topped with a scoop of rice and a few sliced green onions. Cornbread or corn muffins are also a nice side with red beans. ;)
I had a request for more tuna recipes lately but instead of heavy casseroles, I was in the mood for something lighter and more fresh (I’m soooo ready for Spring). So I made this Mediterranean Tuna Salad, which is sort of a hybrid of two of my other favorite recipes. And guess what? It holds up great in the fridge, so it’s another meal prep ready salad! 🙌
What’s in Mediterranean Tuna Salad?
As I mentioned in the intro, this salad is a hybrid of two of my other favorite recipes: Super Fresh Cucumber Salad and Tuna and White Bean Salad. The salad starts with a base of fresh vegetables, like cucumber, tomato, red onion, and parsley, then gets a dose of protein from tuna and white beans, and is finished off with a tangy homemade vinaigrette and just the right amount of crumbled feta. The combo is absolutely perfect!
What Else Can I Add?
What I love about “refrigerator salads” (besides the fact that they hold up for days in the fridge) is that they are always quite flexible. You can add, substitute, or skip ingredients based on your needs. Here are some other ingredients that you can add into this Mediterranean Tuna Salad:
Sun dried tomatoes
Cooked orzo, penne, or bowtie pasta
Spinach or Romaine (keep separate if meal prepping)
Roasted red peppers
How to Serve Mediterranean Tuna Salad
This well rounded salad could be served on its own in a larger portion as a stand alone meal, but you could also round it out by adding some pita and hummus on the side, stuffing the salad itself into a pita or wrap, or adding some cooked pasta to make it into a pasta salad. However you eat it, it’s going to be filling, fresh, and flavorful!
What Kind of Tuna Should I Use?
I definitely suggest chunk light tuna for this recipe because I think it’s the happy medium between good texture (large pieces instead of tiny flakes) and price. You can use tuna packed in either water or oil, whichever you prefer. The nutritional stats below are calculated using tuna packed in water.
How Long Does it Last?
My salad stayed fresh for about 3-4 days. The ingredients hold up extremely well in the refrigerator. You do want to give it a good stir before serving, though, to redistribute the dressing and make sure everything is as flavorful as possible.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
This simple, fresh, and filling Mediterranean Tuna Salad makes an easy protein-packed make-ahead lunch for your workweek.
Total Cost $7.89 recipe / $1.32 serving
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 0minutes
Total Time 20minutes
Servings 6about 1 cup each
Author Beth – Budget Bytes
2Tbspred wine vinegar$0.20
1/4tspfreshly cracked black pepper$0.02
1/4bunchfresh parsley, chopped (about ½ cup) $0.35
115oz. cancannellini beans$0.69
112oz.can chunk light tuna$1.89
Make the vinaigrette first, so the flavors have a little time to blend. In a bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the vinaigrette aside.
If you want to soften the flavor of the red onion a bit, slice it then soak the slices in ice water for about five minutes before dicing. Otherwise, finely dice the red onion, cut the cucumber into quarter rounds, slice the tomatoes in half, and roughly chop the parsley.
Combine the cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley in a bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top, then stir until the vegetables are coated.
Rinse and drain the beans, and drain the tuna. Add the beans, tuna, and feta to the salad, then gently stir to combine. These three are added last and only gently stirred to make sure the tuna remains in larger flakes instead of falling apart into tiny pieces.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to four days. Give it a quick stir after refrigerating and before serving to redistribute the dressing.
*You can use a conventional cucumber and diced Roma tomatoes in place of English cucumber and grape tomatoes if needed.
How to Make Mediterranean Tuna Salad – Step by Step Photos
Start with the vinaigrette, so the flavors have a little time to blend. Combine ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.
If you want to soften the flavor of the red onions, soaking them for five minutes or so in ice water really helps! I slice them first to give more surface area to water contact, then finely dice them after soaking. For this recipe I used about ½ of a red onion.
You also want to cut one cucumber into quarter rounds, slice a pint of grape tomatoes in half, and roughly chop about ¼ bunch of parsley (about ½ cup chopped). Add them all to a bowl with the finely diced red onion.
Pour the vinaigrette over top, then stir until everything is coated. We’ll add the tuna and feta last so they don’t break apart too much when stirring.
Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of cannellini beans, and drain one 12oz. can of chunk light tuna. Add the beans, tuna, and 2oz. feta to the salad, then fold to combine.
And that’s a wrap! Your Mediterranean Tuna Salad is ready to go. You can either serve it immediately or refrigerate for up to four days. Enjoy!
I’m all about making sure the last little odds and ends of ingredients in my fridge or freezer get used up. So this week, instead of making just another batch of plain pasta and red sauce, I jazzed it up with a little leftover heavy cream, the last of a bag of spinach, and some Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Simple swaps and add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight pasta!
What’s in the Creamy Tomato Sauce?
This red sauce is basically the same as the sauce for my Baked Ziti, which is super rich and tomatoey. To calm the acidity a bit and make it extra lush, I added a little heavy cream. The addition of the cream is absolutely magic.
Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?
I sometimes melt a little cream cheese into my pasta sauces, which creates a creamy and tangy finish, so that’s one option (use 2-4 ounces). The other option is to just leave it out and keep it as a basic red sauce. You do not want to use milk or another lower-fat dairy product because the combination of the heat and the acid from the tomatoes will likely cause it to curdle. Another reason why the heavy cream is magic.
Can I Use a Different Pasta?
Absolutely! Since the pasta is cooked separately, unlike one pot pastas, you can use any type or shape of pasta that you like. And you don’t have to worry too much about measuring, just use approximately half of a one pound package.
What Other Vegetables Can I Use?
I think kale would be especially good with this combo, but since it’s quite a bit more sturdy than spinach you’ll want to sauté it in the skillet for a couple of minutes (after the sausage is browned) to soften it up. You could also try tossing in some thawed frozen broccoli florets.
Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage
A few simple add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight spaghetti dinner.
Add the Italian sausage to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. Mince two cloves of garlic, add it to the browned sausage, and sauté for 1 minute more.
Next, add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Once simmering, place a tilted lid on top (to allow steam to escape while blocking splatter) and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.
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, depending on the variety). Drain the pasta in a colander.
After the pasta has cooked and the sauce has simmered a while, stir the heavy cream into the pasta sauce. Add the fresh spinach and stir it into the sauce just until wilted.
Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!
*I used corkscrew pasta, or cavatappi, but you can use any shape you like.
How to Make Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage – Step by Step Photos
Add ½ lb. Italian sausage (mild, hot, or sweet) to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat until browned, breaking it up into pieces as you go. Mince two cloves of garlic, add them to the browned sausage and sauté for one minute more.
Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste, one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Plate a tilted lid on top (so that steam can escape but it shields splattering sauce) and let the sauce come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add ½ lb. pasta (I used cavatappi) and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.
After the sauce has simmered a while (the length of time it takes to cook the pasta), stir in ⅓ cup heavy cream.MAGIC!
Next, add about 4oz. fresh spinach (half of an 8oz. bag) and stir it in until wilted.
Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Done and done!
I served it with some of my Homemade Garlic Bread because that crispy garlicky goodness is perfect with red sauce!