Saturday, February 6

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème

Serves 8
Total cost: NY $23.24
Cost per serving: NY $2.90

So one of the things that drives me crazy about expensive shaped pastas like manicotti, shells and even curly-edge lasagna noodles is how I invariably end up with broken noodles in the package, no matter how carefully I carry them home from the store. The other thing that drives me crazy about these shapes is that there always seems to be a 2 or 3 noodle mismatch between what I get in a package and what the recipe calls for, leaving me with a whole box in the cabinet to house one lonely manicotti noodle, sadly wondering where all his friends ran off to. And that is precious real estate in my NYC kitchen that I cannot afford to squander.

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème
Solution? Save up all your broken or orphaned pasta pieces until you have about 2 cups worth, then make lasagna soup. If you get impatient before you have a enough, you can use any leftover pasta shape or even, if you must, pulverize a couple of whole lasagna noodles from a full box. As long as all your pieces are of approximately the same size, the cooking time will work out. You want to aim for the size of the broken bits to be about the size of penne or rotini, which, not coincidentally, is the shape we would recommend if you don’t have enough leftover smashed pasta. (You’ll notice we didn’t have quite enough ourselves, so used some rotini from the back of the cupboard that wasn’t, on its own, quite enough for a full plate of pasta.)

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème
Once you taste this, I think you’ll see why one might decide to jump the gun and sacrifice some whole shells for this soup. The broth is tomatoey and warming, the noodles toothsome, and the cool herb ricotta topping contrasts beautifully with the heat from the sausage and peppers. Go on and stir the ricotta in to the soup if the spirit so moves you. For those of you who care about such things, you'll note that the calorie count is quite low for a dish that is rich, meaty and creamy all at the same time.

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (staple)
  • 1 pound uncooked Italian turkey sausage (NY $5.79)
  • 1 onion (NY $0.79)
  • 1 green pepper (NY $0.99)
  • ½ pound mushrooms (NY $1.89)
  • 3 cloves garlic (NY $0.25)
  • 4 cups beef broth (NY $2.89)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (NY $1.39)
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (NY $1.19)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (staple)
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, defrosted and drained (NY $1.49)
  • 1 tbsp oregano (staple)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (staple)
  • ½ tsp dried basil (staple)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (staple)
  • Pepper to taste (staple)
  • 2 cups mixed broken lasagna/manicotti/shell pasta (staple or NY $0.89 for box of penne)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan (staple)
  • 1 15 oz container part-skim ricotta (NY $2.89)
  • 1/2 bunch (about 6 stems) fresh basil (NY $2.79 for whole bunch)

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème

Dice the onion and pepper, mince the garlic, and chop the mushrooms into eighths.

Remove sausage from casing by cutting a slit in the skin vertically and then peeling back and off the casing. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, then crumble in the sausage meat. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir chopped veggies into the pot, and continue cooking until softened, onions slightly translucent and mushrooms release juices, about another 5 minutes.

Add broth, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spinach, and raise heat to high. Add spices and bring to a boil. While soup is coming to a boil, taste to check your seasoning. Be sure to actually bite into a piece of sausage when tasting, as sausage can hold a lot of spice that doesn’t carry over into broth. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 8-10 minutes depending on type of noodles. Meanwhile, chop basil and stir into ricotta along with the parmesan. Serve soup in bowls topped with generous dollops of basil ricotta crème.

Lasagna Soup with Basil Ricotta Crème
Nutritional Info
Amount Per Serving

Calories 299.7Vitamin A 77.1 %Iron 18.3 %
Total Fat 12.6 gVitamin B-12 3.0 %Magnesium 14.9 %
Cholesterol 54.8 mgVitamin B-6 11.4 %Manganese 23.4 %
Sodium 1,102.5 mgVitamin C 75.4 %Niacin 10.5 %
Potassium 764.0 mg
Vitamin D 5.3 %Phosphorus 29.0 %
Total Carbohydrate 27.3 gVitamin E 7.5 %Riboflavin 22.8 %
Fiber 4.2 gCalcium 25.6 %Selenium 18.3 %
Sugars 7.3 gCopper 20.0 %Thiamin 14.8 %
Protein 20.4 gFolate 22.4 %Zinc 17.0 %

Recipe and Nutritional Information after the jump

Friday, January 29

Turkey Patty Melts

4 servings
Total cost: NY $6.42/10.21
Cost per sandwich: NY $1.60/2.55

Both Jersey natives*, the LBUH and I grew up hanging out in diners. When we saw Bill Telepan on the Today Show making an elevated version of the classic Jersey patty melt, it got us salivating, although the high levels of butter and red meat gave us pause. (Well, it gave me pause anyway, the LBUH would exist on nothing but an all bacon diet if I let him.)

Turkey Patty Melt
If you don’t know from patty melts, they’re like the perfect union of a grilled cheese and a hamburger. Tasty, yes? Here’s the less heavy version of Telepan’s patty melt that we cooked up.** You’ll notice that we put ketchup right in the meat mixture. We did this for two reasons: (1) turkey meat is less fatty than ground beef, so can get dried out on its own and (2) you shouldn’t be pulling apart a true patty melt to add in any condiments, as it should be partly melted together with the cheese, and partly precariously slippery from the caramelized onions. But in our opinion, its just not a burger without ketchup. OK fine, that’s just my opinion, the LBUH disagrees. But you’re with me, right?

Turkey Patty Melt
  • 2 tbsps olive oil (staple)
  • 3 tbsps butter, softened (staple)
  • 1 large onion (NY $0.79)
  • 8 slices rye bread (staple if you’ve got some/NY $3.79 for a whole loaf)
  • 6 slices reduced fat aged Swiss cheese (NY $1.64)
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (NY $3.99)
  • 4 tbsp ketchup (staple)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (staple)
  • ½ tsp paprika (staple)
  • ½ tsp cayenne (staple)
  • Salt (staple)
  • Pepper (staple)
Turkey Patty Melt

Slice onion thinly. Melt half a tablespoon butter in one tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned in a large skillet. (If your pan is dark, look for the yellow color of the butter to disappear.) And onion and cook over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low, add a teaspoon of salt and continue cooking another 6-7 minutes, until onions are golden brown and translucent.

Turkey Patty Melt
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine together turkey, ketchup, mustard, spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Form into four patties that are more oval-shaped than round. After the onions are done cooking, add another tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add patties. Cook for about 5 minutes per side over medium heat, or until juices run clear when you press down on the top of each patty with a spatula.

Turkey Patty Melt
While the patties cook, prep the sandwiches. Lay out 8 slices of bread. Top each slice with part a slice of cheese, cutting off the edge so that the cheese doesn’t extend beyond the edge of the bread. Lay the trimmings on the top of the next slice, starting the next slice of cheese after the reset of the trimmings. You’ll end up using about one and a half slices per sandwich.

Turkey Patty Melt
* The LBUH even grew up down tha shourah.

** You’ll note that even though this is lighter version, this is still far from “diet” food. I shudder to think what the fat/calorie content must have been on the version made on the Today Show; I think Telepan glopped about 2 tbsps of butter on each slice of bread. (You’ll note that his recipe literally directs one to “slather” the butter on the bread. Gross.) These make pretty hefty quarter-pound sandwiches. If you like, you could easily make 6 patties out of the meat, or only use one slice of cheese per sandwich.

Turkey Patty Melt
Nutritional Info
Amount Per Serving
Calories 633.4Vitamin A 15.5 %Iron 23.7 %
Total Fat 34.9 gVitamin B-12 0.2 %Magnesium 8.3 %
Cholesterol 133.3 mgVitamin B-6 5.4 % Manganese 33.6 %
Sodium 1,519.4 mgVitamin C 5.3 %Niacin 12.8 %
Potassium 194.3 mgVitamin D 0.0 %Phosphorus 9.9 %
Total Carbohydrate 40.8 gVitamin E 6.5 %Riboflavin 13.8 %
Fiber 4.9 gCalcium 44.0 %Selenium 28.8 %
Sugars 5.5 gCopper 8.2 %Thiamin 19.8 %
Protein 40.4 gFolate 15.7 %Zinc 5.6 %

Recipe and Nutritional Information after the jump

Wednesday, January 27

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread

24 servings
Total Cost: NY $8.66
Cost per serving: NY $0.24

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread
So last week’s Great Chocolate Avocado Brownie Experiment got us thinking: what if you used avocado in place of some of the oil or butter in something with flavors that would make for a less counter-intuitive pairing with avocado*? Like, say, a southwestern jalapeno corn bread? If you’ll excuse me for saying so, Eureka! This corn bread is exceptionally moist, zesty with the peppers and scallions, lightly sweet from the honey and thick with sour cream. The avocado is not particularly noticeable on its own, but the taste definitely adds some depth of flavor, in a “what is that mystery ingredient I can’t quite place?” kind of way. Goes great with turkey chili!

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread
  • 2 cups cornmeal (NY $0.38)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (NY $0.23)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (NY $0.20)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (staple)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (staple)
  • 4 eggs (NY $0.66)
  • 1 cup milk (NY $0.27)
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream (NY $1.09)
  • 1/3 cup honey (NY $1.13)
  • 4 tbsps butter (NY $0.38)
  • 1 avocado (NY $1.50)
  • 1 10 oz package frozen corn, thawed (NY $1.19)
  • 1 bunch scallions (NY $0.99)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (NY $0.64)
Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.** Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter. Dice the jalapeno peppers, using your knife to scrape out the seeds. Slice the thinly scallions, retaining both the dark green and white parts. (No need to discard anything but the tiny roots!)

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread
In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flours, salt and baking powder. In a food processor, combine eggs, milk, sour cream, honey, butter, and avocado. Pulse until thoroughly blended, scraping down the sides with a spatula to make sure that all hunks of avocado are broked down and incorporated into the mixture. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth and thoroughly blended. Fold in the corn, scallions and peppers with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until gold brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool before slicing into squares.

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread
* Although counter to my own intuition, that is, we’ve been informed that chocolate and avocado is actually a common and delicious Indonesian pairing. Fascinating! Thanks, Chef Aimee!

** Or, if you’re using the crappy oven in our rental, preheat for one hour at 450 degrees, open oven long enough to put corn bread and watch temperature on thermometer drop back down to 375, and set temperature to 400 degrees. Check oven thermometer every 10 minutes, raising temperature back up to 425 degrees if needed. Optional: copious swearing and calls to landlord.

Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread
Nutritional Info
Amount Per Serving

Calories 152.6Vitamin A 5.1 %Iron 6.3 %
Total Fat 5.7 gVitamin B-12 1.9 %Magnesium 7.0 %
Cholesterol 44.5 mgVitamin B-6 5.0 %Manganese 16.1 %
Sodium 335.6 mgVitamin C 4.8 % Niacin 6.6 %
Potassium 150.0 mgVitamin D 1.1 %Phosphorus 8.5 %
Total Carbohydrate 22.8 gVitamin E 2.1 %Riboflavin 8.2 %
Fiber 2.3 gCalcium 2.2 %Selenium 14.1 %
Sugars 4.1 gCopper 3.7 %
Protein 3.9 gFolate 8.4 %
Jalapeno, Scallion and Avocado Corn Bread

Recipe and Nutritional Information after the jump
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