Pasta Recipes

Pepper Steak and Orzo

I made this pepper steak and orzo dish the other night using leftover ingredients that were running out of shelf-life. I had about 1/3 pound of sirloin steak, 1/2 of a yellow onion, 1/2 of a green pepper, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some garlic and Gorgonzola cheese.  I had a variety of pasta choices, but opted for orzo because I wanted something more along the lines of pepper steak & rice. 

This is one of those dishes that you can easily swap out ingredients for whatever is lurking in your fridge & pantry. Zucchini & summer squash would make a nice addition, as would baby spinach or artichoke hearts. You can also change the meat to chicken, turkey, different cuts of beef, or shrimp. Same holds true for the cheese, as long as it's a soft, crumbly cheese that melts quickly. 



Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1/2 Green Pepper, chopped
1/2 pound Sirloin Steaks, thin strips, about 2-inches long
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (or Tamari Sauce)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Orzo, cooked
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add onions and green pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onion becomes semi-soft. 
  3. Add beef strips and stir to incorporate ingredients. Cook 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Add garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper, if desired. Stir to incorporate ingredients. 
  5. Drain orzo and add to vegetable mixture. Stir well.
  6. Top with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles. 
  7. Transfer to dinner plates and serve immediately.


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Easy Homemade Lasagna

Easy-homemade-lasagna-plate-the-cheap-gourmetLet's face it. Making traditional homemade lasagna can be a lengthy process. This meal is often made on weekends when we have more time in the kitchen.

However, sometimes we just crave it, so here's an option that will satisfy your tastebuds and fit into busy schedules.

The key to this easy homemade lasagna is the noodles. You'll want to use extra wide, such as traditional German egg pasta noodles from Bechtle or Homestyle egg noodles from Amish Kitchens. 

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes


1/2 bag wide noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 to 1 pound hamburger or Italian sausage, cooked (depends on how much meat you like)
1/2 medium Onion, diced
1/2 medium Green Pepper, diced
1 medium Tomato, seeds removed, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (14-oz) jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 11 glass baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  4. In skillet, cook hamburger or sausage. Remove from skillet and place on plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease or drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Over medium heat, cook onion and green pepper in skillet until onion becomes translucent; about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour noodles into baking dish. Add remaining ingredients except for cheeses.
  7. Gently combine until ingredients are incorporated. Evenly spread pasta.
  8.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve immediately.



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Florida Red Royal Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

This dish was prepared using Florida Red Royal shrimp from our local Farmer's Market. It uses fresh shrimp broth made from the shells and heads for an extra boost of flavor. Use the leftover shells to fertilize garden plants. They contain chitin, which activates plants' natural defense mechanisms and minimizes fungus growth. 

Florida Red Royal shrimp is very similar to rock shrimp. The meat's texture is comparable to lobster. It is considerably more salty than other types of shrimp, so be careful when adding salt. Additionally, it requires about half the cooking time of shrimp. 



Shrimp Broth:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
3 cups Water
Shells and heads from 2 pounds shrimp

Shrimp Scampi:
2 pound red royal Florida shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
1/2 medium Onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Shrimp Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 box Linguini
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Place shrimp in a colander and rinse with cold water. Cut off heads and remove shells. Using a paring knife, butterfly each shrimp and devein. Place peeled shrimp in a bowl and put in refrigerator until ready to cook.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp shells and heads and cook for 2-3 minutes; stirring frequently.

3. Add 3 cups water, stir gently, and reduce heat to simmer. Gently press shells to release flavor into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Place a bowl under a colander. Strain shrimp shells and set stock aside.

4. In a 2-quart saucepan, fill 2/3rd with water and a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Add linguini and cook for 10-12 minutes or until soft to the tooth.

5. While linguini is cooking, lightly season shrimp with salt and pepper.

6. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to turn pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

7. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

8. Add lemon juice, white wine, and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil and reduce stock by two-thirds; about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add shrimp and butter.

9. Drain linguini and add to shrimp mixture. Gently stir until well incorporated and finish with parsley. Transfer to serving plates and enjoy!

NOTE: Store leftover shrimp stock in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or, pour into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer to a plastic bag. Add frozen cubes to soups and stews, or use for sautéing vegetables.





Super Easy Pasta Salad

This super easy pasta salad is a favorite for any kind of gathering from Super Bowl parties to weddings and everything in between. The salad can be made with any kind of pasta, but I prefer to use penne. I've also tried it with elbow macaroni and medium size shells. One benefit of using shell pasta is it holds some of the dressing, so prefer extra dressing try using shells instead.

Although this pasta salad is easy to make it does require a bit of prep time to cut all the veggies. It is also best to chill it for at least 2 hours prior to serving.


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Serves: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours


1 (16 ounce) box Penne Pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) can Whole Pitted Black Olives, drained
1/2 pint Whole Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 bottle Italian Salad Dressing
Salt and Pepper, to taste


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, thinly slice bell peppers and onion and cut cherry tomatoes in half.
3. When pasta is cooked, drain in a collander and rinse with cold water.
4. Transfer pasta to large bowl. Add peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 a bottle of Italian Salad Dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
6. Gently mix all ingredients together until well combined.
7. Cover bowl and chill for 2 hours prior to serving.



Chevilotta Cheese Stuffed Sausage and Bowtie Pasta with Tomato Sauce

I recently discovered Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage through my local butcher, Gaff's Quality Meat and Specialty Food in Port Orange, FL. This tasty carnivorous treat consists of sweet Italian sausage, herbs, spices, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It is wrapped in a coil and held together by two wooden skewers. 

Unfortunately, there aren't many Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage recipes available online. It seemed logical to create a pasta dish, although I think this sausage would be fantastic with pancakes or waffles.

My first cooking adventure with Chevilotta involved pan frying the sausage in olive oil, but I imagine it would be great on the grill, broiled, or baked. I added sautéed green and red peppers, onion, and garlic, along with penne pasta. I tossed the mixture in olive oil, added fresh basil and parsley, and topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It was quite delicious and very filling!

Last night, I prepared a similar dish, but this time used bow tie pasta and added chunky tomato pasta sauce. The tomatoes really brought out the distinct flavor notes of the cheeses and sweet sausage. This sausage-pasta dish is super easy to prepare and can be ready in less than 30 minutes. It's great for those nights when you don't feel like cooking or have a hectic schedule and little time to cook.

Chevilotta sausage can sometimes be hard to locate by that name. If there's a local butcher in your area ask if they sell cheese stuffed sausages. Some specialty shops carry it as well. If you're feeling adventurous make your own Chevilotta sausage using the recipe provided at


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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

1 pound Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage
6 ounces Bow Tie pasta, cooked
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 medium green Bell Pepper, seeds removed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 medium white or yellow Onion, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 to 4 medium Garlic cloves
1-1/2 to 2 cups Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste, optional


1. Fill 2-quart saucepan two-third full of water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bring water to boil over high heat. Add pasta, stir and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente (soft to the tooth). Drain and set aside.

NOTE: If you can multi-task, prepare sausage and veggies while pasta is cooking.

2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to 12-inch skillet and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When oil begins to smoke, carefully place sausage coil in skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip sausage and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook sausage for 2 minutes.


3. Transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease.

4. Add vegetables to remaining oil and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. If necessary, add one teaspoon of oil. Salt and pepper veggies, if desired. Vegetables should still have a bit of crunch. If overcooked they will become mushy.

5. Remove wooden skewers from Chevilotta sausage and slice into bite-size pieces. Return to vegetable mixture and gently stir to combine ingredients.


6. Add pasta and pasta sauce to sausage ingredients. Gently stir to incorporate ingredients.

7. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to serving dish. Top with grated Parmigano-Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.


Bon Appétit!

Homemade Corn Chip Meatballs with Spaghetti Recipe

The following homemade corn chip meatballs with spaghetti recipe occurred as a fluke. It wasn't until after I assembled my regular meatball ingredients that I realized I had no bread crumbs in the cupboard. As I searched for a substitute, I noticed a container of corn chips stashed at the back of the pantry.

I thought, what the heck… why not grind the corn chips in a food processor and improvise? The corn chips I used were pretty stale, which may or may not be the key to the recipe. I've yet to try these meatballs using fresh corn chips.

The meatballs were quite tasty, with just a hint of corn chip flavor. I imagine kids would really like these meatballs. You could easily substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken or pork, or use half pork and half ground beef. Feel free to experiment and create your own version of corn chip meatballs!

Homemade Corn Chip Meatballs with Spaghetti Recipe

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Serves: 4 (16 meatballs)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

1 pound lean Ground Beef
¼ cup Red Onion, finely chopped
¼ cup Green Pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
½ cup Corn Chips, finely ground
2 teaspoons dried Oregano
1 teaspoon dried Basil
½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 ounces shredded Mozzarella Cheese, optional



1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, expect olive oil and mix with hands to incorporate all ingredients.
2. Using a cookie dough scoop, or hands, make 16 one-ounce meatballs.
3. Add olive oil to 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to medium and gently place meatballs in skillet and cover with a lid.
5. Cook meatballs for 2-3 minutes per side.
6. Cook each side of meatballs for 1 minute.
7. Line a plate with paper towels and transfer meatballs to plate to absorb excess oil.
8. Serve on top of cooked spaghetti and add your favorite sauce.
9. Top with mozzarella cheese, if desired.


Side Note: Cook spaghetti according to package directions. I used regular spaghetti, which takes 10-12 minutes to cook. Start water prior to cooking meatballs. Once it comes to a rapid boil, add spaghetti and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain in a colander and serve immediately.

This recipe pairs well with garlic bread or garlic toast and a fresh salad.

Looking for homemade pasta sauce recipes? Check out my Yahoo! Contributor Network article ~ Homemade Sauces: Three Easy-to-Prepare Pasta Sauces


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Baked Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Ground Beef and Bacon Casserole

Baked spicy macaroni and cheese with ground beef and bacon casserole is one of our family favorite recipes. This one-dish meal is a cheap gourmet version of America's all-time favorite comfort food. It pairs well with a fresh salad and piping hot dinner rolls.

Baked spicy macaroni and cheese with ground beef and bacon casserole is a great dish to take to pitch-in parties and cook-outs. It can be served for lunch or dinner, as an entrée or side dish, and makes a great leftover meal that can be taken to work and reheated in the microwave.

This Mac' and Cheese casserole can be transformed into a healthier version by using whole wheat pasta, substituting ground beef with ground chicken or turkey, and using turkey bacon instead of pork. I have used low-fat cheddar cheese in the past, but found it to be a bit too rubbery in this particular recipe. I hope you, your family and friends enjoy this macaroni and cheese recipe as much as we do!


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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 10 – 12 minutes

1 to 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound lean Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey
6 slices Bacon, (Pork or Turkey)
1 16-ounce box Corkscrew Pasta (or Elbow Macaroni, Penne or Bowtie)
1 or 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed and diced
2 medium cloves Garlic, minced
1 16-ounce jar Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon dried Basil
Salt and pepper, as desired


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place bacon strips in large skillet and cook over medium heat approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side. Bacon should be crisp on both sides for ease in breaking into smaller pieces.
3. Transfer cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up grease.
4. Crumble ground beef into skillet, allowing it to cook in the remaining bacon grease. Stir frequently and break up any large pieces using a spatula. 

Spicy hamburger bacon mixture

5. Using a 3-quart pot, add 2 quarts of water, pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook as per package instructions.

Spicy hamburger bacon mixture and cooked pasta

6. While ground beef and pasta are cooking, wash jalapeno peppers, remove seeds and dice. If you prefer super spicy, chop entire pepper including the seeds.
7. Remove skin from garlic cloves and mince.
8. Break bacon into bite-size pieces and add along with jalapeno peppers and garlic cloves to ground beef during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking.
9. Lightly grease a 9x12 baking dish with olive oil.
10. Drain pasta using a colander and transfer to baking dish.

Corkscrew macaroni

11. Drain hamburger mixture in colander and rinse with water to remove excess grease.
12. Add hamburger mixture and Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce to pasta. Gently stir to incorporate ingredients.

Mac and cheese casserole

13. Top casserole with shredded Cheddar Cheese. Evenly sprinkle with dried Oregano and Basil.

Spicy hamburger bacon mac and cheese

14. Place Mac' and Cheese in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese melts and begins to turn brown on top. 

Baked spicy hamburger bacon mac and cheese

15. Using oven mitts, remove casserole from oven. Allow to sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to dinner plates and serve immediately.

Baked spicy hamburger bacon mac and cheese on plate



Super Simple "Leftover" Chicken Pasta Recipe

The following Super Simple Chicken Pasta Recipe was created using leftover chicken and a variety of pastas. Do you ever have boxes with just a little bit of pasta left in them? If so, this recipe is the perfect solution!


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Here's what you need to make this tasty dish. Feel free to add or delete spices and veggies to create your own unique pasta dish.

8 ounces Dried Pasta - I used penne, shells and bowtie pasta

1 or 2 Chicken breasts, diced (You could use dark or white meat or a combination)

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 White or Yellow onion, chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and minced

1 Tomato, seeded and chopped

1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Using a 6-quart pot, fill about 2/3rd's of the way with water to boil the pasta.

Place the pot on a stove burner and turn on High. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt, if desired and a teaspoon of olive oil (helps to keep the pasta from sticking).

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Add 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil to 12-inch skillet. Place on stovetop burner and turn heat to Medium.

Add garlic and onion. Saute until onion becomes translucent; about 4 minutes.

Add green bell and jalapeno peppers and cook for 3 minutes.

Add diced chicken.

When pasta is thoroughly cooked, drain water and add to veggie mixture in the skillet.

Reduce heat to Low.

Add tomatoes and gently toss. Cook all ingredients for 4-5 minutes.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Feel free to add in additional spices such as Mrs. Dash, basil, oregano or parsley.

Transfer to serving bowl and enjoy!

Add a yummy salad and freshly baked bread (Pillsbury has a fabulous French bread loaf!) for a satisfying meal.

Penne Pasta with Spicy Peppers Recipe

I'm a huge fan of penne pasta. I love the flavor and texture and find it to be one of the most versatile pastas on the market. Below is one of my all-time favorite Penne Pasta recipes. If desired, you can add grilled shrimp or chicken to this dish. I've also added thinly sliced strips of London Broil and chunks of Italian sausage. No matter what you add, it all tastes good!

Penne Pasta with Spicy Peppers can be served as an entree for either lunch or dinner. My family enjoys this dish along with a tasty crisp salad and homemade garlic bread or breadsticks. I hope your family enjoys it too!


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Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes


1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Red Bell Peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips, seeds removed
2 large Onions, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 cup frozen Peas
1 teaspoon Frank's Hot Sauce or Tabasco Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup heavy Cream or Half-and-Half
16 ounces Penne Pasta, cooked according to package directions
3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add red peppers, onion, garlic, and salt; cook and stir 5 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender.
Add chicken broth, peas and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
Spoon half of red pepper mixture into container of food processor or blender; process until smooth and return to skillet over low heat.
Stir in cream and heat through.
Remove from heat and stir in pasta; tossing well.
Spoon into individual pasta bowls and top with cheese.