Whoever said delicious dining has to be expensive? These three one-dish dinners under $10 won’t bust your budget and will still keep mealtime pleasurable.
These meals serve four, so for many of us empty nesters there will be leftovers, which I refer to as “money in the bank.” Just warm up and enjoy a satisfying no-prep meal later in the week.
Big Turkey-Spinach Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce
Of the three meals under $10, the turkey meatballs are my personal favorite. For a more robust sauce, substitute red wine for the water. Serve the meatballs with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
- 6 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 pound ground turkey (93 percent lean)
- 1 box (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup packed, finely crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping
- 8 crumbled saltine crackers
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; toast until spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cloves from skillet, smash and mince.
Meanwhile, break up ground turkey into a medium bowl. With a fork, stir in spinach, cheese and crackers. In a separate bowl, mix egg, tomato paste, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt and half the garlic cloves. Mix into meat mixture with fork until thoroughly combined; form into 4 balls.
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add meatballs and cook, carefully turning two or three times, until well browned, 7 to 8 minutes total. Add remaining minced garlic cloves, along with tomatoes and enough water (or wine, see note above) to make a sauce that is neither thin nor gloppy (start with 1/2 cup). Bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, partially covered, until meatballs are tender and sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Quick Tortilla Soup
If you’re a cilantro lover and have some around, toss a couple of tablespoons into the finished soup. Top soup with any or all of the following: grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese, diced avocados, light sour cream or Greek yogurt, hot red pepper sauce or pickled jalapeños.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 quart chicken broth or vegetable
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
- 1 box (9 to 10 ounces) frozen corn
- 4 ounces tortilla strips or chips
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder; cook until fragrant, about a minute longer. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and corn; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered, to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. To serve, place a portion of chips in each of four wide soup bowls. Ladle on a portion of soup and top as desired (see above for suggestions).
Smokey Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza
If you’d prefer to use an 11- to 12-inch, thin-crust, store-bought pizza crust, you can! Just adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position, top as instructed and bake in a 450-degree oven until crisp and spotty brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
- 6 to 8 ounces smoked thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces fresh or processed mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 pound store-bought refrigerated pizza dough
- Corn meal for sprinkling on pan
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until partially rendered, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Add onions to the pan; sauté, stirring frequently, until caramel brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, quarter dough crosswise. Working one at a time, stretch each portion into a rustic 12-inch-by-3 ½- to 4-inch rectangle; transfer to a large cornmeal-coated baking sheet. Top each pizza with a portion of the mozzarella, followed by the onions, then the bacon. Bake until cheese melts and crust is golden brown and crisp, about 12 minutes. For a darker crust, broil for 30 seconds to a minute. Sprinkle with Parmesan, cut, serve, and enjoy!
Also of interest: Take the healthy cooking trivia quiz.
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