If you’ve been cooking your way through this series by now, you at least have a cast iron skillet, a knife, a cutting board, a jelly roll pan and a Dutch oven. We can finally make a great frugal dinner favorite – classic spaghetti.
George had reservations thinking the tomatoes would react with the iron skillet (we needed the Dutch oven to cook the pasta). We gave it a try and it worked well. I cooked our own sauce for several hours to see how the sauce would look. You can just buy a jar of spaghetti sauce and heat it up in your skillet or you can look for a recipe to make your own. I like the way ours turned out. I had to stop buying jarred sauces when the last one I liked added sugar to its recipe.
I made a simplified version of Rachel Ray’s Puttanesca sauce using only olive oil, a can of diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, 2 bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil. I think her recipe sounds even better.
Cook your pasta in your new Dutch oven following the package directions. I served up ours with two forks proving you don’t even need a colander at this point. Keep a close eye on the pasta and serve it up as soon as it’s done (it gets soft and mushy when overcooked).
On cold winter nights, I like to heat our pasta bowls. I pour some of the boiling water into the bowls until they get hot and then pour the water back into the pasta pot (while the pasta continues cooking). This helps keep the food from cooling too quickly when it’s served up. You don’t have to do this but I think it’s a nice touch.
Here’s a closeup of the sauce after it cooked for several hours.
Believe it or not, you can now cook most things. You can roast a chicken in the jelly roll pan. You can make beef stew in the Dutch oven. You could bake cookies on the jelly roll pan. You could simmer a pot of beans and make a pan of cornbread in the cast iron skillet.
You’ve spent less than $100 if you only bought one knife and you have quality equipment that should last the rest of your life. You aren’t a slave to restaurants and you should be able to save a lot of money by eating great food at home. You can continue to branch out and it’s fun if you treat cooking like a fun hobby instead of a dreaded chore. Make it a goal to meet or exceed the quality of food you were getting in restaurants and this frugal journey can turn a normal dinner at home into a party!
(all photos by George Cavanaugh)