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Beating the market basket blues

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All it takes is a single trip to the supermarket to bring a person to the brink of bankruptcy.
And no wonder; according to Milkpick.com, a gallon of milk in Florida is closing in on $4 a gallon, and Zippia.com says bread will on average set a shopper back more than $3.60 a loaf.

In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, between January 2021 and January 2022, the cost of food rose 7.4 percent, with the prices for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs representing the biggest increases.

There’s not much the household’s chef can do in self-defense but resurrect recipes that fed big families on a shoestring and fed them well.
One of those recipes, which my father’s immigrant Italian family relied on to stretch a staple and make the most of the vegetable garden, involves pasta and a bunch of asparagus.

In fact, pairing any vegetable—broccoli, spinach, even eggplant, or diced tomatoes—elevates pasta to haute cuisine, appeals to the most finicky of palates, is vegetarian-friendly and does it all on the tightest of budgets.

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Here’s the recipe – Pasta and asparagus
Ingredients based on 4 servings
1 lb of pasta (fettuccine or linguine)
2 lb. Very thin asparagus spears
4-5 garlic cloves smashed
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
8 (one stick) – tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions
Wash asparagus and snap off long, woody bottom stems
Cut remaining spears in half
In a large skillet, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and about 3-4 tablespoons of butter
When the butter is melted, add the asparagus and the garlic and saute
Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until the asparagus is soft but not mushy
Be sure to taste the olive oil/butter sauce and add salt or additional butter as you prefer.
Meanwhile, boil well-salted water for pasta in a Dutch oven-type pot
FYI, the water is to flavor the pasta, which is pretty flat tasting without it.
When it is al dente (literally “to the tooth” in Italian), drain the pasta and reserve about a half cup of the pasta water
Return the pasta and the water to the pot in which it was cooked and add the contents of the skillet
Blend well for about 2 minutes
Place in a large bowl and add grated Asiago, Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste

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