image scanned from bon appétit {february 2013}... best cover ever.
i've mentioned before that i have a love/hate relationship with meal planning. if i'm not careful, following a rigid plan for days/weeks in a row tends to leave us with an over-stuffed pantry and an empty bank account.

i try to plan according to what we already have... to work leftovers- and leftover ingredients- into the mix, and to remember little things, such as~ tuesday may not be the best day for a 13 ingredient-22-step-3-course-meal...

but still, i find myself over-shopping and over-spending, all in a effort to stick to the plan.

yet oh so many benefits come from having a ROAD MAP. not only time-saving benefits, but money-saving, which is a big area of focus for the coming year (more on that later)... less eating out, less ordering in, less starving kids scrambling parents...  for it to work, however, it has to have a LOT of flexibility built in- with weeks off to 'clear out the pantry' (some of the best meals come out of these clear-out sessions).

and in light of my recent post [our recent chaos], increased structure in this regard has been absolutely essential. we're a month into to 2013, and so far, it's been a huge success.
lots of recipes tried... {old & new} cookbooks cracked open... new blogs discovered... magazine tear-outs put to the test... so many keepers to share... 
one of the best meals to date~ derived from a "seven perfect pastas" feature in an incredible february issue of bon appétit~ was a wonderfully unique pasta dish that definitely held up to the "perfect pasta" claim...

{hearty but not heavy... rich but not creamy.  a strikingly [and a bit surprisingly] delicious stand-out dish that would absolutely hold its own next to the usual 'pasta-heavy-hitters'... & not even an ounce of meat.}
ditalini with chickpeas and garlic-rosemary oil
{or pasta e ceci}

1 medium onion, quartered 
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces 
6 garlic cloves, 4 whole, 2 chopped 
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup olive oil, divided 
Kosher salt 
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed 
1 pound ditalini or elbow macaroni 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor bowl and set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add reserved vegetable mixture, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water in a small bowl to combine; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 5-8 minutes. 

Add chickpeas and 2 cups water to pot and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors meld. Transfer 1 cup chickpea mixture to food processor; purée until smooth, then stir back into sauce to thicken. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. 

Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. 

Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small sauce­pan over medium-low heat; add chopped garlic and rosemary and cook until sizzling stops, about 1 minute. Divide pasta among bowls and drizzle with garlic-rosemary oil. 
as i mentioned, so much more to share in this regard. until then, any keepers on your plan that i should know about??

don't hold back on me now... 


  1. I was eyeing that in Bon Appetit- will have to give it a try. One of my go-to's is the Smitten Kitchen recipe for crispy black bean tacos with slaw and feta. Super easy and the kids like it. It's on her site. Also, I just bought the Meatless cookbook from Everyday Food and it has tons of inexpensive meatless meals. We're trying to cut down on poultry and save money so I'm cooking more with grains, veggies, beans, etc.

    1. so funny, i just made the bon appetit version a couple of weeks ago (came up on a google search)... SO good. adding smitten kitchen's version to the meal plan! it's amazing how much meat we used to eat on a daily basis. we've cut down drastically... huge money-saver. look forward to more 'recipe-swapping' in the coming year :).

  2. so happy to see you posting torrie. xoxoxo

  3. Such accurate observations on meal planning. I do much better with them, but fail to make them often enough. I guess the key is to plan coordinating meals, so that many of the ingredients are used for two meals in the week. I am also a total pasta lover and have poured over the bon appetit issue this month, just as I have started a 21 paleo challenge. Nice timing I know. I am attempting to make the Spicy Pork Ragu tomorrow night, paleo style. With no pasta and cheese, but with zucchini noodles. I'll let you know how it goes!

    1. yes, that is so important. my last meal plan worked out so well- we were able to use what we already had, and what we had leftover from other meals… love when it works out that way!

      i’m very curious to see how it turned out! we followed a similar plan (alkaline) and now primarily cook with brown rice noodles. learned so much about how to use other ingredients to add the richness that cheese provides to a dish.

      zucchini noodles… sounds delicious!


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