Eat on 30 Project – Day 4 {Pasta alla Norma}

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Eat on 30 Project – Day 4 {Pasta alla Norma}

Not sure what this is all about? Click the LINK HERE to find out all about it. It will also have a list of all of my other Fab Foodie Friends who are participating as well. Be sure to stop by & show them some love too! See what meals they’ve been cooking up & read their trials & tribulations. We’ve also got a great giveaway that is wrapping up tomorrow. Click here and enter to win!

This week I have tried to stretch my cooking boundaries all while staying within a very tight budget. Cooking things that I might not normally cook because they were on sale & well HONESTLY that’s a little scary. What if it’s awful? Well on a regular week, I’d chock it up to a lesson learned & either cook something else or go out. You CAN’T do that on a budget! Nope! You still would need to eat because you wouldn’t have any money to replace it with. (I know you’re wondering so … I have never made Carrot Slaw before, NOR have I ever made Teriyaki Sauce-both made me nervous but I did it & guess what, they were GOOD). I have tried my best to make diverse nutritious meals with what was available to me on the BUDGET at hand! I couldn’t sit down & say I want to eat this, this & that. Sorry, didn’t work that way. I have gone into the stores and looked for items on SALE & then created meals around them & finally this week I’m happy to be able to include the food that I LOVE in this week’s menu as well! & that means ITALIAN! Evviva!

I always buy dried pasta when it’s on sale & stock up. It’s not unlike me to purchase 20 boxes at a time when I see it for $1 each. It’s a staple for me and a great money saving tip. It doesn’t go bad and doesn’t take up that much space in your pantry. Maybe you don’t buy 20 boxes, but even a few will save you money in the long run.

I am so happy to be able to share¬†today’s recipes with you (yep, that’s plural, you’re getting 2 for the price of 1). The Pasta alla Norma, well it’s quite special to me. I had it in Rome for the first time & I thought I was going to fall out of my chair. It was that good. I actually came back and ordered the same dish the following night. Told you I liked it. Yep, it’s that good. And, I’ve decided that I’m going to refer to Eggplant as “Aubergines” from now on – so much sexier sounding, no? Aubergine. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Well I’ll save you the suspense – I came in WAY under budget again today. I’m going to save you all the mathematical breakdowns & just give you totals for the meals. Here’s what we ate:

Breakfast: Coffee (for me, not the bambini) Pancakes, Toast & Jelly – Which by the way were completely FREE. I still have the free loaf I received and I used the jelly that I won in a contest from Piccante Dolce (sad to report that it’s almost gone. I’m hoping Jen is going to come off the recipe soon, just sayin’), 2 Bananas & a couple of sippy cups of chocolate milk. Or as Bruiser refers to as Cha-Chat milk. Love that boy!
Breakfast Total: $1.55

Lunch: 2 school lunches, leftovers for hubs FREE & I whipped up an amazing Creamy Tomato, Garlic Basil Soup. So good. Look at that picture! Doesn’t it look scrumptious? You’d never know how cheap it was!

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Here’s the quick recipe:
I had 1/2 a honking big jar of Italian Tomatoes left in the fridge. Dumped in pan. Seasoned with s/p. Added 1/2 handful of fresh Basil FREE from my deck garden, some water FREE, 1 clove of Garlic Minced (which I buy at the wholesaler for a ridiculously low price) & about 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or food processor, or whatever ya got) to smooth out.
Lunch Total: $5.40

Snacks: 2 bags of Popcorn, 1/2 can Pringles
Snack Total: $.92

Dinner:
1 Box of Spaghetti (Did I mention that I stock up on my favorite Brand of Pasta BARILLA when they run them on special for $1/box. 2 Eggplants (which I picked up at the Farmers Market), Oops I meant Aubergines, Salt/EVOO FREE Basil FREE from my deck garden, I large jar of canned tomatoes FREE from my Mom’s Garden (last jar Mom, could use some more *wink wink*) 4 Cloves Garlic, Ricotta Salata (definitely a splurge item this week but you really don’t use that much) We did serve it with some bread. Used half a loaf of a store bought Italian bread for a whopping $.75
Dinner Total $4.05

Grand Total for Day: $11.92 (WOOT! UNDER BUDGET! Looks like dessert is definitely in our future)

What budget tips do you use for your family?
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Pasta alla Norma

What you’ll need:
1 box of Spaghetti – I prefer Barilla
1 Large Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes (The honking big cans, 3o+oz)
2 Eggplants – Sliced into Rounds
4 tbsp EVOO
1 handful of Fresh Basil – Roughly Torn
4 Garlic Cloves
Kosher Salt
Vegetable/Canola Oil – Enough to fry Eggplant in
Ricotta Salata – Enough to Garnish

What to do:
Cut your Eggplants into Round Slices. Keep them as close to the same size a possible. Place Eggplant slices in a colandar. Season them well with Salt. Place Colandar into a large bowl. Fill your Pasta Pot with water & place pot ontop of Eggplant slices (to weight them down). Let rest for approx 1-2 hours or until most of bitter liquids have been extracted.

When slices have released their liquids. Transfer them to a papertowel & pat completely dry. Place enough oil into a pan large enough to fry your Eggplant Slices. Fry your Eggplant until it’s golden brown on both sides (do this in batches if necessary). Turning the Eggplant as needed. Place them onto a PaperTowel as they come out of the oil.

WHILE the Eggplant is frying place your Large Pasta pot (the same one that was holding down the eggplants) onto boil. Season it well with salt. When the water boils, add your Pasta & cook it until it’s al dente. ALSO start your sauce. Place the EVOO into a pan and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves & saute for a few minutes. Add the Tomatoes & season with salt. Add the roughly torn basil. Stir & allow to cook for approx 10 minutes. Add the Fried Eggplant to sauce (reserving a few pieces to play ontop to garnish with). & allow it to heat through. Remove Garlic Cloves & add a sprinkling of Ricotta Salata. When pasta is cooked, reserve a ladel full of water & drain. Add pasta to sauce mixture. Toss Gently & if necessary add the reserved pasta water to thin out. Garnish with more Ricotta Salata & reserved Eggplant slices.

Buon Appetito!

Don’t forget to show us a little share lovin’ come on, go ahead, you know you want to! It’s right below! Click away baby! Mwah!

22 Comments

  1. 1

    This is one of my favorite pastas! And I loooove eggplants (yeah, you are right aubergine does sound pretty worldly and sophisticated) So happy to have the recipe now, can’t believe how easy it sounds to make it and that is one beautiful photo. Thanks Paula!
    Oh and I will tell you a great budget tip for my family: I try to go to the grocery store by yourself i.e. while kids are at school. Reduces temptations to get extra things we don’t need or could do without and they really crave…

    • 1.1

      Thanks Pati! So glad you like it too! It’s very easy peasy. The hardest part is waiting for the liquids to release :) That’s a great tip & oh so true! I try to go alone & if not alone with only 1 of my 3 : )

  2. 2

    Paula-

    Congrats on doing so well with your budget! We still have $13 left to get through Saturday night…so I think a cheap bottle of wine and some pasta may be in my future. Oh..the lessons we learn doing this challenge. I’m glad it’s opening some eyes for you like it is me.

    Love both of your recipes in this post – I’m a sucker for soup :)

    - t*

    • 2.1

      Thanks a bunch Tami! I’m a little concerned about the two days though with the entire family being home *biting nails*. So I’m glad to have a little cushion in the budget ;) I LOVE soup too. They’re really so quick & easy (& CHEAP ;) I’m so glad that I decided to do this challenge. It has definitely taught me even the smallest of food items can be a luxury.

  3. 3

    I do the same with pasta, beans, etc. And, I definitely agree about aubergine also courgette for that matter.

    • 3.1

      Glad to hear others stock up too! I also have a big selection of chick peas, etc. Definite saves me lots of money!

  4. 4

    The pasta sounds really good! Somehow I often find myself among those who buy eggplant with all noble intent, and then I forget it for a day or so. Meanwhile, it’s headed to the kitchen bin. Wish it lasted just a bit longer, or that I’d get myself in gear faster, because we do like it. Next time I’ll just plan this recipe for the day I buy!

    • 4.1

      Ciao Alyssa! So glad you’re going to give it a try! It’s so good! If you find you’ve had your Eggplants an extra day ; ) My Eggplant al Forno recipe on here is perfect for that!

  5. 5
    Jenn in Tenn /

    Now that ALL sounds delish! Yum. Definitely gonna try that Aubergine dish! ;-)

  6. 6

    This is an awesome pasta dish! Reminds me of my semester in Italy as well. Keep up the budget challenge, you’re doing great!

  7. 7

    Beautiful Paula! I love how you have been documenting everything you’ve been eating. I did a quick post yesterday, no photos, no time, lol!! I laughed when you wrote Aubergines, I just learned that was eggplants this year, haha! I was always confused when I ran into that. Loved it!!

    • 7.1

      Thanks Diana! I’ve had a notepad by my laptop to try and keep things staight. I find myself saying Aubergine all the time now LOL Just one of those words I love.

  8. 8

    I love this dish – anything with tomatoes, aubergines and basil can’t go wrong! And yes, Aubergine is a much more sexy name than eggplant ;) Thanks for your comment on my blog – looking forward to the rest of your eat on 30 adventure.

    • 8.1

      Thanks Danielle! I think I could eat a plate of the fried “Aubergines” all by themselves too. Oh so good! Thanks so much for following along!

  9. 9

    Mmm. Looks delicious. I love aubergines, too! ;)

    Once again, I’d have to add meat or fish to that dish to satisfy the husband and get my youngest to meet her protein needs, but maybe a few meatballs thrown in and I would have met budget.

    I’m thinking this challenge would be tough for my family… but a great exercise in frugality.

    • 9.1

      Thanks Christine! It would be really easy to add some meat in & the sauce would even be fabulous on top of toasted bread!

  10. 10

    Paula, I’m so proud of you for doing this and making everything look so delish. I can’t imagine trying to feed my family on a small budget but I know that if I had to, I would. It makes me incredibly sad that there are families who have even less to work with…

    • 10.1

      Thanks Dani! I really appreciate that! Mwah. It is good to know that I CAN do it too!

  11. 11

    Beautiful pasta dish. I’ll make this soon. Everyone loves eggplant and pasta separately. But together might be even be better.

    • 11.1

      Thanks Divina! I think I might even make up a plate of those fried eggplants this week. They were quite tasty on their own too!

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