Sixth, and final instalment in a series of posts about cheap meals in which I feed two adults (one of which is me) things they genuinely like eating, on a budget of around £2 each per day.
First, an apology: I already blogged on pasta as part of this series. There are other cheap staples that I could (and probably should) have devoted a post to – so honourable mentions to soups, to smoked fish and sweet potatoes, and not forgetting other carbs such as the humble baked spud or the poncier bulgur wheat (aka the cous-cous I actually like).
But the fact of the matter is, if you’re spending £2 a day, you’re probably going to eat a fair bit of pasta – I’ve regularly gone through periods of living on it four days a week or more. And simple tomato-sauce based meals can get pretty repetitive – one of the most obvious pitfalls of any diet on a budget.
So it’s worth mixing them up with the likes of the dish below, which is equally good served hot or cold (or room temperature, anyway) so it’s perfect to take with you the next day. It comes from the Cranks Bible, also home to the awesome pasta fagioli recipe I posted on back in January. And if you want something a bit less vegetable-based but still suited to skintness, just Google up ‘tuna cannellini beans pasta’ and get to work.
Pasta with aubergine, fennel and tomatoes (4-6 portions; total cost, about £6)
You will need:
- 100ml olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 fennel bulbs, cut into 3cm chunks
- 1 large or 2 small aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
- 500g tomatoes, cut in quarters and seeds removed
- 1 chilli, chopped fine
- A few basil leaves
- 400g pasta (the original recipe says farfalle, but shells or similar work just fine)
- 75g grated cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil very gently and fry the garlic until transparent.
- Turn up the heat to medium high, add the fennel and stir for about 5mins.
- Add the aubergine and continue cooking until softened and browned – 10-15mins. Keep a close eye (and nose) on things and stir almost constantly to prevent the garlic from catching – if this is in danger of happening then drop a splash or two of water into the pan.
- Add the tomatoes and chilli and stir on a high heat until the tomatoes have softened, but are still recognisably tomatoes.
- While this last bit is under way, cook your pasta then drain.
- Tear the basil leaves into the vegetable pan add the pasta and mix together well. Serve with the cheese.