This month, my refrigerator is on a diet, not me. This resolution does not reflect an imperfect understanding of weight loss strategy. Rather, I’m consciously reducing the amount of money I spend on food, and the amount of food we waste.
Fortunately, there’s a new cookbook that can show me the way. “$10 Dinners: Delicious Dinners for a Family of Four That Don’t Break the Bank” by Julie Grimes (Oxmoor House, $21.99) puts the economy in home economics. For the cost of two fast-food meals, your people can enjoy reasonable quantities of seafood, poultry and even steak. But the recipes that make my healthy cooking heart sing are the seasonal, produce-focused meals, like Winter Veggie Carbonara.
Traditional carbonara is pasta smothered in cholesterol: bacon, cheese, and egg yolks. Grimes indulges us with all three ingredients, but in reduced quantities that flavor the dish without bloating it. She throws roasted Brussels sprouts and wilted rainbow chard into the mix, which add good-for-you fiber and vitamins. And, it turns out, Brussels sprouts and chard are absolutely delicious when kissed with carbonara sauce. My daughter declared her dinner “too good to be healthy,” which is the sort of tween verbal eye roll that is simultaneously maddening and spot-on.
As written, the recipe is a bit higher in sodium than I like. If you share similar concerns, reduce the amount of salt in your pasta water to just a pinch, and cook two, not three, pieces of bacon. Speaking of bacon, feel free to substitute turkey or vegetarian “bacon” for the pork. These reduced-fat options may not yield enough grease to roast your Brussels sprouts. If so, add a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil to your mini cabbages and carry on.
The recipe calls for 8 ounces of uncooked pasta, which is half of a standard box-o-noodles. I haven’t boiled anything less than a full pound of pasta since my boys hit puberty and the insatiable hunger that accompanies it. I was skeptical that the recipe could satisfy four normal people, let alone my horde of hormones. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Those yummy veggies bulked up the dish, so there was enough food for all five of us to feel happy and full. Which means this may very well be the year my refrigerator and I stick to our resolutions.
Excerpted from “$10 Dinners” by Julie Grimes. Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corp. New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.