Friday, February 27, 2009

TJ's and fast home-cooked meals

The latest easy-to-prepare meal turns out to be a variation on one of my mother's mainstays when I was growing up — a casserole we always called "Goo." Basically, it amounted to macaroni and some kind of sauce and meat in a casserole dish. My variation is an easy TJ's concoction. If you're only feeding a couple of people, you'll end up with at least two meals out of it as well.

Boil a pound of pasta — penne or fusilli work best. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, remove the casings from a few sweet Italian sausages — about a pound — and thoroughly brown the meat in a cast-iron skillet. When cooked, drain the meat to take some of the fat out. Let it cool while the pasta cooks. Combine the pasta, sausage and a jar of TJ's traditional marinara (shockingly good for the price and ease) in the pasta pot. Add a couple handfuls of shredded mozzarella, mix again, and pour it all into a casserole dish. Grate Parmiggiano Reggiano on top and put it in a 350º oven for twenty minutes.

Pasta : $.99
Sauce: $1.29
Sausage: $3.50
Cheese: minimal cost if you keep a stash around
Grand total: $5.78

Time of preparation: 20 minutes active; 40 minutes total.