Noodles for less

I love Noodles & Co.  Love, love, love.  But what I don’t love right now is the cost.  Every now and then I want to splurge and go get me some Penne Rosa.  But at $9 a pop; I just can’t do it.  So I started making my own.  I think in total it cost about $15 for about 5-6 servings.  Even the “big bowl” at Noodles costs $20, and it only feeds 4-5.  I try to make larger batches of these meals, that way TAJ has food leftover for those nights where I am training or out at a TNT event.

What you need:

1 bx of Penne pasta

mushrooms I used 1 container of fresh, but one can will do just fine

1 bag of baby spinach

1 container of cherry tomatoes, or 3 medium Roma tomatoes

1 jar of red sauce- get one that has red pepper in it.  That way it will have the “kick” that the Noodles version has.

1 container heavy cream  UPDATE: You can also sub 1 small can of condensed milk to cut out a large portion of the calories!!

Feta, or fresh parmesan cheese

Extras: I added some red onion, and a tbs of minced garlic for flavor.  If you want more kick- add red pepper flakes!  Notice my version is without meat- The Amazing Jeff is not a meat-free boyfriend, so I cooked some chicken for him.  Add a chibatta roll and you are set!

The instructions are pretty basic, but keep in mind that I am an “eye-baller” and not too strick in the measurements- cook the desired amount of pasta, I used about 3/4 of the box.  In a large pan (I used our wok) saute the mushrooms, I used about half the container, and onions (If desired)in a little bit of olive oil, or non-stick cooking spray.  Add the tbs of minced garlic (if desired).  Slice the tomatoes, and add to the saute mix after about 5 minutes.  Slowly stir in the red sauce- I used about half the jar to start.  Reduce heat to simmer the sauce with the mushroom, onion, and tomato mix.  Then stir in 1/3 to 1/4 cup of the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Add 2 handfuls of the baby spinach and stir.  Drain pasta and stir in to the sauce mix.  Top with feta or parmesan cheese and serve.

I then used the “left-over” ingredients in a few other pasta dinners.  Mostly with Bertoli bag dinners.  I froze the leftover mushrooms and tomatoes with my bag of frozen veggies that I always have on hand to add to pasta dinners.  In that bag is zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes.  I will grab a handful of that mix to add to bag dinners, or put in a saute pan with a little vegetable stock and a tsp of cream to make a sauce and serve it as a side dish.

I will be making this dish this week- and using the left over sauce chicken, and spinach to make chicken parmesan for TAJ, I will have a soy “chicken” patty.  Love Morningstar farms italian herb patties.  So yummy.

What is your favorite knock-off recipe?  Do you have money-saving tips for getting that dining out experience at home on a budget?


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