Frugal and Fast Dinner Idea: Garlic Noodles

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

Good question. You’ve already hit up the pizza joint this week and drove through Cluck-in-a-Bucket (a nod to Stephanie Plum there) another night – and your purse is lighter for it. What you really want is to throw together something yummy and quick.

These days, it can be a challenge to come up with meals to bring to the dinner table that are quick, healthy and don’t cost a ton of money. Well, cyber friends, here is one such dish that should fit the bill and please your crowd without costing an arm and a leg.

This dish, Garlic Noodles, is my at-home take on an entree served at The Cheesecake Factory. I had something similar at that restaurant when eating there for my birthday a few years back and thought I could probably duplicate it at home. This version is pretty yummy and definitely cheaper. It’s definitely in the rotation at our house, and I often will use leftover noodles, veggies and chicken to whip this together on busy days.

Over low heat in a large skillet, add:

  • A few tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • Garlic, minced or chopped; anywhere from 2 to 5 cloves (depending on your taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (a dash gives it plenty of kick)

Let this sit over low to medium-low heat for somewhere around 5-8 minutes; you want the garlic to soften and infuse the oil and butter. You do not want the garlic to brown very much or else it will be bitter.

To the garlic/oil/butter, add:

  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup frozen veggie of choice. You can also use leftover cooked vegetables as well (asparagus is really yummy in this!).

Let the veggies mellow with the garlic and oil for a few minutes.

Then add:

  • Cooked noodles – at least 2-3 cups. Any kind will do – spaghetti, shells, rotini, even stuffed pasta like ravioli.
  • Some protein, if desired; leftover, cooked chicken and shrimp are really good and chick peas (garbanzo beans) are also a good option.

Stir this all around well, then add a ladelful or two of the pasta cooking water or around 1/2 cup broth if using leftover pasta.

Add in some:

  • Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, a good 1/4 cup or better
  • Black pepper to taste
  • A pinch of salt

Let all of the dish sit over medium-low heat for around 5 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese. Voila! Dinner is done!

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Anonymous's picture

Broke Professionals wrote:

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 23:48 Comment #: 1

My husband will love this recipe - mostly because of the roasted red pepper flakes. I think that his A-#1 favorite ingredient of all time!

Anonymous's picture

Michelle wrote:

Fri, 05/11/2012 - 02:31 Comment #: 2

We make dinners like this all.the.time. So easy and fast...and delicious! Oh, and good for you! Now if only I could get my 8-year-old to quit dissecting and questioning all the ingredients and just eat up...

Anonymous's picture

Marissa wrote:

Sun, 05/13/2012 - 21:13 Comment #: 3

This sounds delicious. I'm pretty sure I have all of the ingredients at home so I may have to try this soon.

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 13:46 Comment #: 4

@ Broke Professionals: the red pepper flakes definitely give it a kick and some pizzaz!

@ Michelle: Ha ha! My girls constantly give the "dissect and question" to just about any dish!

@ Marissa: I make this dish, or a version of it, a lot just because I find myself with the ingredients for it at home a lot... good luck! Hope you enjoy!

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