Perfect for a meatless meal, serve pasta and lentils with a salad for satisfying, budget friendly fare. I’m fond of recipes made from things we normally keep on hand, especially when they taste great!

1-1/2 cups onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup uncooked lentils
1 carrot, washed and finely chopped
1/4 pound pasta, small shells or rotelle
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Place a large saucepan of salted water on to boil; add the pasta and cook until it is al dente, about one minute from being tenderly cooked.

Place 1-1/3 cups water and the lentils in a lidded saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. Add the carrot, stir and cover; cook for 3 – 5 minutes until the lentils and carrots are tender.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme, stir frequently and cook until the onion becomes golden brown.

Reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the cooked pasta and set aside. Drain the pasta into a colander, give the colander a good shake. Add the pasta to the skillet with the lentils. Simmer the pasta and lentils for about 1 minute, stirring to combine. If the mixture becomes dry, add a little of the reserved pasta liquid. Add the parsley, stir briefly to incorporate.

Transfer the mixture to heated serving bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 2 servings.

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Pasta with mushroom and caper sauce is a satisfying fast-fix recipe that serves as a vegetarian entrée, light supper or side dish. This recipe is handy if you tend to buy too many mushrooms. I half the recipe and serve with a salad for a quick dinner for two.

3 cups corkscrew pasta
8 ounces mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 green onions or small scallions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Cook the pasta in salted water for 5 to 7 minutes, until just done. Pour the cooked pasta into a colander and shake to drain well. Transfer to a warmed bowl, cover and keep warm if your sauce is not finished.

While the pasta is cooking, clean the mushroom caps, green onions or scallions and parsley; chop finely and set the green onions or scallions and parsley aside.

Place the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil has heated, add the mushrooms. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 – 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are fairly dry and begin to brown a bit. Add the half-and-half, capers and tomato paste. Stir to blend well. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stirring frequently, continue cooking until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in the green onion or scallions and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

*Magic: this recipe is exclusive to I Love You Recipes. It is from my personal, unpublished collection.

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For a change of pace, replace the baked beans at your next barbecue with this easy budget friendly side-dish. These lively beans taste better the following day.

1 pound firm, ripe tomatoes
1 sweet onion
1/2 pound Anaheim chilies
6 cloves garlic
6 15-ounce cans pinto beans (10 – 11 cups)
Pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Wash, core and chop the tomatoes. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, seed and chop the chilies. Peel and mince the garlic.

Place the tomatoes, onion, chilies and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, cook until the onion is slightly browned.

Add the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the beans have heated through, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or refrigerate in a tightly sealed container and reheat prior to service.

Yield: 8 – 12 servings.

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A super quick dessert, this self glazing fruit salad recipe starts with a can of peach pie filling. Spoon it overleft over biscuits and add a dollop of whipped cream for an extra special treat.

1 21-ounce can peach pie filling
3 firm bananas
2 cups strawberries
1 cup seedless grapes

If you’re using fresh strawberries, rinse, hull and cut the strawberries in half. If you’re using frozen strawberries, allow to partially defrost and cut in half while still slightly firm. Peel and slice the bananas. Rinse the grapes and remove from the stems.

Combine all ingredients in a lidded bowl. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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This delicious pineapple and lime sorbet recipe is super easy. Prepare the pineapple in advance and whip up a refreshing treat in a moments notice.

1 ripe pineapple, about 4 cups
1/3 cup frozen limeade concentrate
1 – 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest

Do ahead:
Peel and cut the pineapple into cubes. Place the pineapple on a large jelly-roll pan in a single layer. Freeze the pineapple for at least 1 hour or longer, until very firm. Transfer the pineapple to a freezer storage container or bag and freeze for up to 1 month.

Prepare the sorbet:
When you want to make the sorbet, thaw the limeade concentrate. Zest 1 teaspoon of the lime peel and juice the lime for 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice. Combine with the frozen pineapple, lime juice and lime zest in a food processor fitted with a blade. Process until smooth and fluffy. If the mixture seizes up, allow to sit for 20 – 30 minutes to soften up a bit and repeat processing.

Serve immediately.

This sorbet is best served immediately but may be made ahead and stored in the freezer. Allow to stand at room temperature to soften for several minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings.

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