Reading the “I hate being a broke student” intro to Consuelo’s One Pot Zucchini Pasta recipe last week really resonated with me; I may not be a uni student anymore (that boat sailed almost a decade ago, actually), but I am still paying off my student debts. I may not be entirely broke, but I do try to live on a budget day to day, so that I can afford my travels. Being a food-lover, this gets hard. Sometimes I just want the Italian prosciutto and the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese instead of crappy shredded deli ham and homebrand cheese. My choice, I know. But, it is really nice to come across some quick, easy recipes I can bulk cook for a low price for the weeks I either can’t be bothered cooking every night, or don’t have a heap of cash to spare on groceries.
The bulk cooking thing has been something I’ve been doing a lot more lately – I mentioned it in this post, but once a week, I make HEAPS of one dish (fried rice, soup, pasta) and freeze the extras. As soon as I saw this recipe, I thought it’d be perfect. Some veggies, some cheap, plain pasta sauce, a bag of cheap pasta, and 2 chicken breasts made 10 meals – so much more cost effective than cooking one or two meals at a time!
I played around with Consuelo’s recipe a little; here’s how mine worked out.
– 2 large skinless chicken breast fillets
– 3 cups chicken stock
– 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthways and thickly sliced
– 500g large mushrooms, quartered
– 500g dry pasta (something like penne or spirals works well)
– 400ml vegetable stock
– 700ml bottle of plain pasta sauce
– salt, pepper and dried herbs – I like oregano and basil
– 2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Pot one – the chicken. Follow these instructions for your slow cooked chicken, using just chicken stock to cook the chicken in (no ginger, soy, etc). Give it around 3 – 4 hours on low in your slow cooked, then take it out, get rid of the liquid, and shred the meat.
2. For the second (pasta) pot, add a little oil to a large pot over medium heat – I used garlic infused olive oil due to fructose issues, otherwise you can use normal olive oil and throw some minced garlic cloves in.
3. Add the zucchini and mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until they start to colour a little.
4. Pour the pasta into the pot, along with the stock, pasta sauce, salt, pepper and herbs. Stir to combine, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through – cooking time will vary depending on the type of pasta you use, so keep checking it! Remember, you want your pasta a little al dente (still a bit hard), particularly if you’re planning on freezing it.
5. Stir through the cherry tomatoes and the shredded chicken, and serve with a little grated parmesan cheese on top.
That easy! I let it all cool down, divided it up into plastic zip-lock bags, labelled and froze them – that’s a whole lot of dinner looked after in advance! Thanks for the idea, Consuelo :)