Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Sauce, Two Meals, Happy Wallet

This week has been a little out of the ordinary for me because we have made two meals that are based around a red tomato sauce. Italian is one of my least favorite types of foods, and I am not a fan of red sauce in particular. I know that is probably offensive to some of you but I just can't help it! However, on a rare occasion I get a taste for Italian, and brace sauce. 

This week Hubby had a craving for spaghetti. That sounded pretty good to me, but I knew that we would no way eat a whole jar of spaghetti sauce, so I brainstormed a recipe that would use the leftover sauce (another crazy moment--I planned to eat leftovers! Ick, they are not my favorite either), and I came up with Rustic Veggie Polenta. This recipe was actually inspired by a frozen meal that I sometimes get during the school year for lunch (ironically I think I was able to make the entire recipe for not much more than the frozen version--although I think Amy's is a bit healthier than mine!)

Image Source
Here is my sauce recipe that was the basis of the two meals. It is pretty simple (another goal of these meals was to keep them budget friendly) and it is something I thought up as we were making our grocery list.

Simple Sausage Pasta Sauce:

1 jar of spaghetti sauce--I used Prego Light Smart Traditional Sauce. I liked that it was 100% natural, had lower sugar and calories, 1/2 serving of veggies in 1/2 cup, and was on sale...yippee!
1 small can tomato paste 
3 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or use a garlic press

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a sharp knife to gently slice through the sausage casing. Remove and discard casing and put sausage in heated pan. Use a spatula to break apart sausage into small crumbles. Add the diced onion to the pan and let meat and onion brown, stirring often. Once the meat and onion are almost done add your minced garlic (the garlic is more delicate and will burn quickly--that is why I saved it to the end). I used a garlic press and pressed it right into the pan. Once your meat, onion, and garlic are nicely browned and happy, drain any grease and add your jar of sauce and can of tomato paste to the pan. The tomato paste gives the sauce a nice thickness and flavor. Turn your heat down to low and let the sauce simmer about 20 minutes.
*Note: We used pork sausage to keep it classic, but you could clean this up by using an all natural turkey Italian sausage. 

Meal #1:

Spaghetti with Simple Sausage Pasta Sauce--I must admit we had regular pasta but you can clean it up with whole wheat pasta instead. We cooked a small portion of pasta and added the amount of sauce we wanted directly on top of our pasta. Remember you are saving the rest of your sauce for meal #2! 

Steamed veggies--We love using the Bird's Eye steamer bags. They are all natural and a super easy and healthy side dish!  

Meal #2:

Rustic Veggie Polenta

1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced (I used half of a large one and saved the other half for Asian grilled chicken salads later in the week. I told you all this was budget meal week!)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (the other half that I saved from the sauce)
1 package white button mushrooms, sliced
Leftover Simple Sausage Pasta Sauce

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a dash of olive oil. Wash and dice your veggies and add them to your hot pan. Sauté the veggies until they are soft and slightly browned. Add in the leftover Simple Sausage Pasta Sauce and turn the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the polenta. 

We use Trader Joe's Organic Polenta. It comes pre-made in a handy little tube and you just slice it into rounds. Bonus at our TJ it is only $1.99 (yay budget friendly!!). We followed the instructions on the tube for pan frying the polenta in olive oil. The only change was we wanted the polenta nice and crispy brown on each side, so rather than cooking for 4-5 minutes per side on medium-low heat it was more like 10 minutes (I think they took longer to brown because we had too much oil in the pan). 

Once your polenta is done put it on your plate and top with Rustic Veggie Sauce and a shake shake of parmesan cheese. This is an entire meal in itself, no side dishes needed! Delicious! 

Note: I named this recipe Rustic Veggie Polenta because of the rustic veggies. You see, I am not good at chopping. Usually when I attempt to start chopping something my hubby steps in and takes over--my chopping skills do not impress him. He wasn't around to help me this time because he was making a last minute run to the grocery store for the ingredients to make a yummy dessert (I'll have that post for you later this week!). I think my issues with chopping are due to {ok, fine} not great knife skills and impatience. I really just want to get it done, and here is what that looks like:

Do you notice how none of the veggies are the same size?! My favorite is the ridiculously tiny red pepper piece. I figured "rustic" was a nicer term than "hot mess", so that's how Rustic Veggie Polenta was born. 

I hope you enjoy! 

No comments:

Post a Comment