Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad, and the perfect side dish for any summer meal.

The post Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Not a summer goes by without me making this incredible Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad. It’s so fresh and delicious, quick to make, AND it stays good in the fridge for days. What more could you want from a summer salad?? Plus, it’s a great dish to bring to all those summer potlucks and BBQs, too!

Originally posted 6-19-2013, updated 6-18-2022.

Overhead view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad with lemons on the side.

What is Couscous?

Couscous is a small, ball-shaped pasta. It cooks really fast, is a fun texture, and is a great way to bulk up salads. The variety used for this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a larger-sized couscous called pearl couscous, or sometimes Israeli couscous or giant couscous. If you can’t find pearl couscous, you can use regular couscous or even orzo in its place (orzo would be my first choice since it’s similar in size). Regular couscous cooks a little differently, so take a look at this couscous salad (made with regular-sized couscous) for cooking instructions and size reference.

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice?

Fresh lemon is key to achieving the powerfully fresh lemon flavor in this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad, so I do not suggest substituting the fresh lemon with bottled lemon juice. The lemon zest alone is responsible for most of the lemon flavor in this salad, and, unfortunately, you just can’t get that from bottled juice.

What to Serve with Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

This super fresh summer salad is a great side dish for anything you might cook on the grill, or you could serve it with something like Garlic Marinated Chicken, a giant Veggie Sandwich, or Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.

How Are the Leftovers?

I love this salad so much simply because it stays good in the fridge for days. The couscous sort of acts like a moisture regulator, keeping the cucumbers from getting soft or soggy and keeping the salad almost as perfect as it was on day one. So if you’re looking for something to meal prep for lunch this summer, this couscous salad is it!

Close up side view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl.

Overhead view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl garnished with lemons.

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad perfect for any summer meal. 
Course Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle-Eastern
Total Cost $6.46 recipe / $1.08 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup each
Calories 250kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups pearl couscous $2.20
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.89
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1 English cucumber $1.49
  • 1/4 bunch parsley $0.27
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled $1.23

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the couscous and continue to boil for about minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain the couscous in a colander or wire strainer. Rinse briefly with cool water to cool off the couscous, then allow to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Zest the lemon and then squeeze the juice. You'll need about ½ tsp of zest and 3 Tbsp of juice.
  • Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a bowl and stir to combine.
  • Chop the cucumber into quarter-rounds and roughly chop the parsley.
  • Add the cooled and drained couscous to a large bowl along with the cucumber, parsley, lemon zest, and feta. Pour the dressing over top, then stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Video

Notes

If you are substituting regular couscous for Israeli couscous, be aware that the cooking instructions are different. You can find instructions and step by step photos in this recipe post. You can substitute orzo for the couscous without any adjustments.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 265mg | Fiber: 3g

Side view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad.

How to Make Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad – Step by Step Photos

A package of pearl couscous.

This is what pearl or Israeli couscous looks like. It cooks exactly like pasta. For reference, check out this couscous salad to see the size of regular couscous. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of pearl couscous for this recipe.

Cooked couscous draining in a colander.

To cook the couscous, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the couscous, and then continue to boil until the couscous is tender. Since the couscous is small, it cooks very quickly (about 5 minutes). Drain the couscous and then rinse briefly with cool water to bring the temperature down. 

Zested and juiced lemon.

While the couscous is cooking and cooling, prepare the rest of the salad. Start by zesting and juicing one lemon. You’ll need about 1 tsp zest and 3 Tbsp juice.

Lemony dressing in a bowl with a whisk.

To make the lemony dressing, whisk together 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. If you’re a garlic lover, you can mince up a clove of fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. I decided that I wanted the salad to have just a hint of garlic flavor, so I added a touch of powdered garlic instead of fresh.

Chopped parsley and cucumber on a cutting board.

Roughly chop ¼ bunch parsley (about ½ cup chopped) and slice one cucumber into quarter-rounds.

Salad ingredients in the bowl, not mixed.

Transfer the cooked and cooled couscous to a large bowl, then add the chopped parsley and cucumber, and about 3 oz. crumbled feta.

Dressing being poured over the salad.

Pour the prepared dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl.

Finished lemony cucumber couscous salad in the bowl with a large spoon.

Stir the salad until everything is evenly mixed and coated in dressing. You can give it a taste here and adjust the salt, pepper, or any other ingredients to your liking.

Overhead view of lemony cucumber couscous salad in a bowl garnished with lemons.

And now you’re ready to eat! Or, you can chill it until it’s time for dinner. The flavors get even better as it chills and once it’s cold the salad is extra refreshing!

Close up side view of a bowl of lemony cucumber couscous salad.

Seriously, this Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is my favorite summer treat. Sometimes I add a grilled chicken breast on top and make it a meal. A dollop of hummus is also good in there!

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad is a light, fresh, and vibrant pasta salad perfect for any summer meal. BudgetBytes.com

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Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

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

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

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

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

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

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

What is a Roux?

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

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

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

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

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

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

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

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

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

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

Need Some Inspiration?

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

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

Homemade Mac and Cheese

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Nutrition

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

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

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

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

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

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

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

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

Roux being whisked in the pot

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

Milk being poured into the pot

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

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

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

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

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

shredded cheddar added to the pot

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

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

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

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

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

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

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

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One Pot Veggie Pasta

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

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

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

Overhead view of one pot veggie pasta in a bowl

Use Your Leftovers

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

Use Your Favorite Sauce

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

How Are the Leftovers?

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

Success with One Pot Pasta Recipes

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

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

One Pot Veggie Pasta

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

Onion carrot and garlic in the pot

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

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot

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

pasta, vegetables, and broth added to the pot

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

Stirred but uncooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

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

Cooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

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

Pasta sauce being poured into the pot

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

Shredded cheese being added on top

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

Finished one pot veggie pasta garnished with parsley

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

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

Enjoy!

Love One Pot Pastas? Try These Other Flavors:

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Ranch Broccoli Pasta

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

The post Ranch Broccoli Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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

Overhead view of a pot full of ranch broccoli pasta

What Kind of Ranch Seasoning to Use

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

Use Any Pasta

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

What Else Can I Add?

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

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

Ranch Broccoli Pasta

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

How to Make Ranch Broccoli Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Boiled pasta and broccoli florets

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Add the frozen broccoli florets during the last minute of boiling. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

butter and ranch seasoning added to the drained pasta and broccoli

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

Finished ranch broccoli pasta in the pot with a spatula

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

The post Ranch Broccoli Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Quick Veggie Pasta

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

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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

Overhead view of quick veggie pasta in a skillet with tongs

Why I Love This Vegetable Pasta

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

Pasta Options

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

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

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

Vegatble Options

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

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

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

What is Nutritional Yeast?

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

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

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

Overhead view of a bowl full of quick veggie pasta

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

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

Quick Veggie Pasta

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Nutrition

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

How to Make Quick Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Uncooked linguine in a pot

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

Sliced mushrooms and tomatoes on a cutting board

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

Sautéed mushrooms in a skillet

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

Tomatoes added to the skillet with mushrooms

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

spinach added to the skillet with tomatoes and mushrooms

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

pasta and butter added to the skillet

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

nutritional yeast and seasoning added to the noodles

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

finished quick veggie pasta in the skillet

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

Overhead view of a plate full of quick veggie pasta

The post Quick Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

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

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

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

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

Pasta Options

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

Salad Dressing Options

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

Is the Broccoli Raw??

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

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

Broccoli Pasta Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

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

Ingredients

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

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

Salad

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

Instructions

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

Nutrition

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

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

tomato paste, vinegar, and herbs in a bowl

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

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

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

Cooked rotini in a colander

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

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

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

Broccoli pasta salad ingredients in a bowl

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

Tomato vinaigrette being poured over the pasta salad ingredients

Pour the tomato vinaigrette over top…

Finished broccoli pasta salad in a bowl with a red spatula

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

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

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

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

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

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

What is Gochujang?

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

Where to Buy Gochujang

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

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

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

How Spicy is It?

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

What Should I Do With my Leftover Tofu?

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

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

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

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

cubed tofu on a cutting board

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

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

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

Cubed tofu being dropped into the pot

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

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

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

Spinach added to the pot

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

Finished gochujang ramen in the pot

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

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

Enjoy that spicy goodness!!

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Summer Sweet Corn Salad

Fresh sweet corn is one of my favorite things about summer. It’s so sweet and juicy when it’s fresh, and the smell of the husks as you peel them back from the cob brings back so many memories of summers past. So when I saw fresh sweet corn on sale at the grocery store this […]

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Fresh sweet corn is one of my favorite things about summer. It’s so sweet and juicy when it’s fresh, and the smell of the husks as you peel them back from the cob brings back so many memories of summers past. So when I saw fresh sweet corn on sale at the grocery store this week I grabbed a couple and whipped up this super simple Summer Sweet Corn Salad. It has a medley of colorful vegetables, a little pasta to bulk it out, and a super fresh lemon vinaigrette keeps everything light and flavorful. This is a very flexible recipe and I’ve got a couple modification ideas for you below!

Overhead view of a serving bowl full of Summer Sweet Corn Salad

Make it Pasta-Free

I added pasta to my salad for bulk, but you can totally make this salad without pasta, too! Just double up your vegetables, drizzle that lemon vinaigrette over top, and you’re good to go! You can eat the vegetable salad as-is, or scoop it over a bed of greens.

Add a Protein and Make it a Meal

If you want to eat this salad as a main dish instead of serving it as a side, try adding some grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, boiled shrimp, or cooked salmon on top. It’s such a light and fresh dish that it pairs really well with “lighter” meat and seafood.

Can You Eat Raw Corn??

Yes, yes, and YES! Raw sweet corn is soooo sweet, crisp, and juicy. It’s an absolute delight! It adds nice little pops of sweetness throughout this salad that contrast so well with the creamy avocado and tangy vinaigrette. 

If you don’t have fresh corn for this salad, I would suggest frozen corn as the next best substitute, BUT just know that it’s 100x better with fresh sweet corn.

Doesn’t the Avocado Turn Black?

Nope! I kept this salad in my fridge for four days and it was still great. On day two there was no noticeable difference in the appearance of the avocado chunks. By day four, they were slightly grey on the edges, but overall still looked great. The lemon vinaigrette goes a long way toward preventing the oxidization that usually causes the color change. 

What to Serve with Sweet Corn Salad

This salad makes a great side dish to Quick BBQ Chicken, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Garlic Butter Baked Cod, Baked Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, or Marinated Portobello Burgers.

Close up of a bowl of Summer Sweet Corn Salad with a wooden spoon in the middle

 
Close up of a bowl of Summer Sweet Corn Salad with a wooden spoon in the middle

Summer Sweet Corn Salad

Colorful summer vegetables, creamy avocado, pasta shells, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette make this light and fresh Summer Sweet Corn Salad.
Total Cost $7.67 recipe / $0.96 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 1 cup each
Calories 255.84kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.64
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.89
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil $0.03
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard $0.04
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley $0.20

Salad*

  • 8 oz. pasta shells $0.63
  • 2 cobs sweet corn $0.80
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $2.50
  • 2/3 lb. zucchini $0.89
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion $0.11
  • 1 avocado $0.89

Instructions

  • Zest and juice the lemon. You'll need 2 Tbsp juice and ½ tsp zest. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, basil, Dijon, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley in a bowl or jar. Whisk the ingredients in a bowl, or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the vinaigrette aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add a couple large pinches of salt to the pasta water, then add the pasta. Continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes), then drain in a colander. Rinse the pasta briefly with cool water, then allow it to drain well.
  • While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the corn kernels off the cobs, slice the grape tomatoes in half, dice the zucchini, finely dice the onion, and dice the avocado.
  • Once the pasta has drained well and cooled, add it to a large bowl with the prepared vegetables. Pour the dressing over top, then toss until everything is evenly combined and coated in dressing. Season with a pinch of salt to taste, then serve.

Notes

*The vegetable amounts are very flexible. If you have a little more or a little less of each, it's okay.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 255.84kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.68g | Protein: 5.95g | Fat: 11.54g | Sodium: 68.91mg | Fiber: 4.28g

How to Make Summer Sweet Corn Salad – Step by Step Photos

A zested and juiced lemon on a cutting board

Zest and juice a lemon. You’ll need 2 Tbsp juice and ½ tsp zest.

Lemon Dressing in a jar

To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ⅛ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, and about ¼ cup chopped parsley. If you do this in a bowl you can whisk the ingredients together, or combine them in a jar and shake until they’re combined.

draining shell pasta in a metal colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add a couple pinches of salt and 8 oz. pasta shells. Continue to boil the pasta for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander, and give it a brief rinse with cool water. Let the pasta drain well.

Cutting corn off the cob

While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Cut the kernels off two cobs of sweet corn. I like to do this with the end of the cob in a bowl so they kernels fall right off into the bowl instead of flying all over the kitchen. Haha!

Chopped vegetables on the cutting board

Also dice about ⅔ lb. zucchini, slice 1 pint grape tomatoes in half, finely dice about ¼ cup red onion, and dice one avocado.

Dressing being poured over the salad ingredients in the bowl

Add the drained and cooled pasta to a large bowl with the corn, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, and avocado. Pour the dressing over top, then toss until everything is combined and coated in dressing.

Seasoning the salad with a pinch of salt

Finally, add just a small pinch of salt on top, if desired. I like to have a little bit of crystalized salt on the surface of the pasta and vegetables for a little pop of flavor. 

Overhead view of a serving bowl of summer sweet corn salad with a wooden spoon on the side

The post Summer Sweet Corn Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta

Keep it stupid simple. That saying applies to so much in life, including food. One of my favorite “stupid simple” meals is buttered pasta with a vegetable and a healthy does of salt and pepper. Incredibly simple, incredibly good, and a million ways you can play on that theme. This Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon […]

The post Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Keep it stupid simple. That saying applies to so much in life, including food. One of my favorite “stupid simple” meals is buttered pasta with a vegetable and a healthy does of salt and pepper. Incredibly simple, incredibly good, and a million ways you can play on that theme. This Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta is just buttered pasta with charred oven roasted broccoli, steak seasoning, bright lemon, and salty feta. The flavor combo is absolutely to die for and it really couldn’t be any easier.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta

A plate with roasted broccoli pasta, lemon wedges, feta, and a black fork on the left

What is Steak Seasoning?

Steak seasoning, sometimes called Montreal steak seasoning, is one of the few pre-made spice blends that I keep in my pantry. This chunky-crunchy blend of spices has big pieces of salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, and other spices. It’s not just good for steak, it’s also great with broccoli, potatoes, pasta, and a million other things. The way the coarsely ground spices coat the surface of food provides a slightly crunchy texture, a subtle smokiness, and big pops of flavor. I put it on everything.

You should be able to find some form of steak seasoning at most major grocery stores. McCormick makes one, as does Aldi and Kroger.

Do I have to use Whole Wheat Pasta?

You can actually use any type of pasta you have on hand for this recipe, BUT I find that the slightly nutty flavor of whole wheat pasta pairs the best with the flavors in this dish. And while you can use a long shaped pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, shorter shapes will be easier to stir together with the rest of the ingredients. Bowtie and rotini are great alternatives to the penne.

Fresh Lemon is a Must

The fresh lemon carries a lot of weight in the flavor profile of this pasta, so please don’t be tempted to skip it! Whole lemons can be on the pricier side, but if you buy a whole bag of lemons and keep them in your freezer, you’ll pay less per lemon. Frozen lemons are still great for zesting and juicing, but will not be pretty for garnishing or slicing.

Can I use Frozen Broccoli?

If you know me then you know I love to roast frozen broccoli. It’s fast, easy, and totally delish. But for this recipe I highly recommend using fresh instead of frozen broccoli. Fresh broccoli is not as “wet” as frozen broccoli, so you get a better char on the outside edges, which lends a really smoky flavor to this pasta. You can use frozen in a pinch, but you’ll get much better flavor with fresh for this recipe.

Front view of a pot full of Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and feta, garnished with lemon wedges

 

Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta

Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta is an incredibly simple pasta dish with big flavors. An easy, fast, and delicious weeknight dinner!

  • 1 lb. broccoli crowns ($1.79)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 tsp steak seasoning ($0.10)
  • 1 fresh lemon ($0.39)
  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta ($0.50)
  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.20)
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta ($0.55)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the florets out over the baking sheet. Drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle the steak seasoning over top. Toss the broccoli until it is well coated in oil and seasoning.

  2. Roast the broccoli for 20-25 minutes, or until it is brown and crispy on the edges.

  3. While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the rest of the dish. Bring a pot of water to boil for the penne. Once boiling, add the pasta, and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (8-10 minutes). Reserve about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.

  4. While the pasta is boiling, zest a lemon, then cut it into wedges.

  5. Return the drained pasta to the pot (heat turned off). Add the roasted broccoli florets, the butter, about 1 tsp lemon zest, and the juice from two of the lemon wedges. Stir the ingredients together, letting the residual heat from the pasta melt the butter. If the pasta seems too dry, add a splash or two of the reserved pasta water.

  6. Top the pasta with crumbled feta and a pinch or two more steak seasoning, if desired. Serve with extra lemon wedges.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up view of a fork picking up some roasted broccoli pasta from the bowl

 

How to Make Roasted Broccoli Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Chopped broccoli florets on a green cutting board

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Chop the broccoli crowns into small florets.

Steak seasoning bottle held over sheet pan with broccoli

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the broccoli florets out over the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle 1 tsp steak seasoning over the broccoli.

Seasoned broccoli florets on the baking sheet

Toss the broccoli florets until they are well coated in oil and seasoning. 

Roasted broccoli florets on the baking sheet

Roast the broccoli florets in the 400ºF oven for about 25 minutes, or until they are well browned and crispy on the edges.

Cooked whole wheat penne being held in a pasta spoon over the pot

While the broccoli is roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8 oz. whole wheat penne and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (8-10 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.

Zested and sliced lemon

While the broccoli is roasting and the pasta is boiling, zest the lemon then cut it into wedges.

Pasta, broccoli, butter, and lemon combined in the pot.

Once the pasta has drained, but is still hot, return it to the pot (with the heat turned off) and add the roasted broccoli, 2 Tbsp butter, about 1 tsp lemon zest, and the juice from two of the lemon wedges.

Feta added to pasta in the pot

Stir the pasta to combine the ingredients and let the hot pasta melt the butter. If the pasta becomes dry, add a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Once the butter has fully melted, top the pasta with 1 oz. crumbled feta.

Finished pot of roasted broccoli pasta with lemon and feta

Serve with the remaining lemon wedges for squeezing over each bowl. If desired, add an additional pinch or two of steak seasoning.

A bowl full of Roasted Broccoli Pasta with lemon and feta and a black fork on the left side

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Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot

What is a Wonderpot? It’s a pasta dish that cooks all in one pot (a.k.a. One Pot Pasta) with vegetables, aromatics (garlic, onion), and broth so that every bite is packed with flavor. The broth and pasta create a rich saucy gravy in the pot that coats everything in wonderful flavor. This Spinach and Artichoke […]

The post Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot appeared first on Budget Bytes.

What is a Wonderpot? It’s a pasta dish that cooks all in one pot (a.k.a. One Pot Pasta) with vegetables, aromatics (garlic, onion), and broth so that every bite is packed with flavor. The broth and pasta create a rich saucy gravy in the pot that coats everything in wonderful flavor. This Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot is like, the easiest, tastiest “dinner in 30 minutes” meal! 

Originally posted 10-17-2013, updated 12-22-2019

Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot (One Pot Pasta)

A red Dutch oven full of Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot, with feta and spinach leaves on the sides

Use Fresh or Frozen Spinach

The original version of this recipe used frozen spinach, but the price of fresh spinach has come down tremendously in the past six years, so I was able to remake this with fresh spinach for about the same price as frozen. Fresh spinach has a much better texture, but frozen is still an option if you have that on hand or can’t get fresh spinach for a decent price.

Whether using fresh or frozen spinach, it can be added to the recipe at the same point—after the pasta has cooked. Frozen spinach is added to the pasta without thawing, and the heat of the pasta quickly thaws the spinach as it’s stirred in.

What Kind of Artichokes Should I use?

You can use artichoke hearts packed in a brine or marinated in oil. Either will work just fine. I usually find the kind packed in a brine in a can to be a little more affordable.

A shallow bowl full of Spinach and Artichoke One Pot Pasta with spinach and feta on the sides.

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yes, you can use a different type of pasta, just be aware that different shapes may need different amounts of broth to cook properly, so you’ll have to adjust the recipe slightly. You can do this as the pasta cooks, adding more broth if it becomes dry before the pasta is tender, or allowing the pasta to boil without a lid if it’s too brothy when the pasta is nearly cooked through.

Can I Freeze the Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot?

Yes, you can freeze this dish, just be aware that the pasta may soften further through the freeze and reheat cycles. The best option for reheating would be in the microwave, first on the defrost setting, then high once it has loosened enough to stir.

Love One Pot Pastas? Check out my entire category of One Pot Meals for more!

 

Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot (One Pot Pasta)

This delicious and simple Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot is a One Pot Pasta that takes less than 30 minutes to make and is packed with vegetables.

  • 8 oz. mushrooms ($1.69)
  • 1 13 oz. can artichoke hearts ($2.59)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
  • 1 small yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth ($0.65)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 12 oz. fettuccine ($0.82)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 4 oz. fresh or frozen spinach ($0.65)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.05)
  • 3 oz. feta (optional) ($2.19)
  1. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt or debris, then slice them thinly. Drain the can of artichoke hearts and roughly chop them into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the onion and garlic (you can mince the garlic and dice the onion if you don't like large pieces).

  2. Place the vegetable broth, olive oil, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, onions, and garlic in a large pot. Break the fettuccine in half and add it to the pot along with the oregano, thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Push the ingredients down under the broth as much as possible. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a rolling boil over high heat.

  3. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir the pot to evenly distribute the ingredients and prevent the pasta from sticking. Turn the heat down to low so that the pot is simmering. Allow the pot to simmer, with the lid on, stirring every couple of minutes, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Make sure the broth is simmering the entire time, turning the heat up slightly, if needed, to maintain a simmer.

  4. Once the pasta is cooked through, add the spinach and stir it into the pasta, allowing the heat to wilt the spinach (if using frozen, stir until the heat has thawed the spinach).

  5. Serve the pasta hot with a pinch of crushed red pepper and some crumbled feta on top, if desired).

If you use low sodium vegetable broth, you may want to season with a little salt at the end. Sometimes just a pinch of salt will help pronounce the flavors and prevent a bland finish.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up of Spinach and Artichoke One Pot Pasta on the plate being twirled around a fork

 

How to Make Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot – Step by Step Photos

Sliced onion mushrooms garlic and artichoke hearts

Start by prepping the veggies. Rinse and slice 8 oz. mushrooms. Drain a 13 oz. can of artichoke hearts and then just chop them up roughly so that they are in smaller, bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice one small onion and 4 cloves garlic. If you don’t want big garlic pieces, you can mince the garlic and dice the onion. 

Vegetable broth being poured into the pot with all the other inredients

Place the sliced onion, mushrooms, garlic, artichoke hearts, 12 oz. fettuccine, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, some freshly cracked black pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill), and 5 cups vegetable broth. If your pot is not big enough for the fettuccine to lay flat across the pot, I suggest breaking it in half first. My pot is quite wide, so I left it whole.

Ingredients pushed down in the pot below the broth

Push all of the ingredients down under the liquid as much as possible. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, give it a good stir, and reduce the heat to low. 

Cooked one pot pasta

Let it simmer on low, with the lid in place, stirring every couple of minutes, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Make sure the broth is simmering well the entire time, turning the heat up slightly if needed to maintain a simmer.

Fresh spinach added to the one pot pasta

Once the pasta is cooked, add 4 oz. fresh spinach and stir it into the pasta until the spinach has wilted. If using frozen spinach, stir it in until the heat from the pasta has thawed the spinach.

Finished spinach and artichoke one pot pasta

And then you suddenly have this! Amazing! Easy! Yum! It’s a WONDERPOT!

Sauciness in the bottom of the wonderpot

Take a closer look… see that yummy sauciness in the bottom of the pot? ?

A pasta fork lifting pasta from the pot of Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot

Serve the Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot as is, or add a pinch of crushed red pepper and some crumbled feta. It’s also pretty good with Parmesan!

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