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Whether you have a strict food budget (like grad student me!) or just want to create a meal that’s delicious, homey, and doesn’t break the bank, simple garlic olive oil pasta is an excellent choice. This version has red pepper and a touch of lemon to liven things up a bit, so I guess you could say it’s a take on the traditional Italian spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino. Added touches, like heating the garlic in olive oil, help draw out extra flavor, making this inexpensive and easy dish a budget meal that doesn’t feel like it’s on a budget.
This recipe comfortably feeds 2-4 – all you need to do is adjust the amount of pasta. Any more than four servings of noodles and you’ll probably need to start adding in more olive oil and other ‘sauce’ ingredients.
- 4-8 ounces of thin spaghetti noodles, or your favorite type of pasta
- 3 cloves of garlic, or more, to taste (or an equivalent amount of pre-minced garlic)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- The zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Shredded parmesan for topping
Heating the olive oil, garlic, pepper, and lemon zest takes a little bit of extra effort, but it mellows the garlic flavor and helps elevate the dish from ‘I’m a broke student’ to ‘I’m serving this to company.’ It really is a restaurant-worthy Italian classic you can make at home!
What’s your go-to meal when you’re on a tight budget but don’t want to feel like you’re eating a budget meal?
Natasha is a former classroom teacher turned WAHM. She also is a registered yoga teacher & holds a certificate in natural skincare formulation from the School of Natural Skincare. She shares her passion for education, positive parenting, free printables, and recipes for DIY bath & home products. Learn more about Natasha and where she’s been featured.