NPR’s How Low Can You Go $10 Meals – Farfalle With Potatoes

Farfalle With Potatoes

I decided to take on NPR’s How Low Can You Go – $10 Meals challenge and post here a recipe that will bring you and your family through (at least for a day) the recession!

The recipe I will post is nothing new for me,  my Grandma would make it once a week, and almost everyone in East Europe eats it. And get this! If Potato Pasta brought many people through a Communist-wrecked economy in Romania, it will bring you through for sure here in the West!

Potato Pasta

You might think – what good can come out of starch & starch? Even if it sounds cliche, the secret is in the sauce. With some tricks, you can have a delicious meal for tonight with spending less than $10.00 (in fact I add it up and it totaled a little under $5)!

Chances are that you already have every ingredient in your kitchen, so you don’t even need to run to the grocery store, burn gas, adding to your carbon footprint, which in turn makes this dish environmentally friendly also!!

What Goes In?


2 Lbs peeled Russet potatoes, cut in 3/4″ cubes
5 medium sized yellow onions
3 garlic cloves
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup home made chicken broth
1 Lb Farfalle pasta (I used Barilla)
2 sprigs of fresh Greek oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil The Potatoes

Start with boiling the cubed potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them an inch above. Add about 1/2 Tsp salt, and let them boil for something between 10-15 minutes.

Add potatose to Boiling Water

You don’t want to nuke them as Russet potatoes tend to disintegrate fast. I am willingly not using Yukon Golds because I want the starchy component of the Russet that will add to the creaminess of my sauce.

Boiling Potatoes

Try one piece and if it is boiled but still stiff enough to keep its shape, drain but hold on to the water. That is valuable since it has a lot of the potato starch.

Drain Potatoes Water

The Sauce

Have your yellow onions cut crosswise:

Onions cut Crosswise

Next, in a heavy cast iron skillet heat up the chopped garlic with the oil on high heat. It is important to have the garlic heat up together with the oil since it will maximize the aroma. And never leave it more then 30 seconds since there’s a good chance that it will turn brown and impart a bitter taste to the oil.

Heat up Garlic with Oil

Immediately after that add the onions and toss so they’ll be coated in the oil. Continue sauteing on high heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions turn translucent and slightly brown.

Next, add the 1 cup of home made chicken broth and continue sauteing for about 10 minutes on medium heat until you get a nice syrupy sauce:

Broth in Skillet

Now it is time to add 1 cup of the starchy water you used to boil the potatoes and continue sauteing for another 8-10 minutes until you get that syrupy consistency again:

Potatoe Water To Skillet

Add about 1 Tbs of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and continue to gently stir for 1 minute:

1 Tsp Ground pepper

The 1 Tbs fresh chopped Greek oregano will come next. Gently stir for 2 minutes:

1 Tb Chopped Fresh Oregano

Now, add the boiled and drained potatoes and fold them VERY GENTLY with the sauce trying to preserve as much as possible the cubes’ shapes:

potatoes in the pan

Fold Potatos Lightly

Supposing you know how to make the perfect Al Dente Farfalle, I’ll skip that chapter that I will detail later in a separate post. So with that, add your Farfalle to the sauce and again fold very gently to not break the potato cubes, enough to coat. They will break some no matter what since they are Russets but you want to have some chunks in the mix:

Add Farfalle To Pan

Fold in Pasta

Plate your servings, sprinkle some Parmigiano on top, and the result will be a delicious saucy pasta that will feed a family of four with hungry teenagers. Enjoy a superb diner, without spending as much as $5 dollars!

Farfalle With Potatoes at under $5 !

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9 thoughts on “NPR’s How Low Can You Go $10 Meals – Farfalle With Potatoes”

  • I LOVE pasta with potatoes!! It sounds weird, but it actually works- a filling, high-carb meal to patch you through rough times!! Yum!!! Gabi, I really love your version with onions- never made it that way, now if you’ll excuse me I will be going to make it RIGHT NOW!

  • Vanessa! Thanks for the comment! In fact if you throw in some spinach that will also add some vitamins along with the starch. And some color. And yes, you never can add too much onions. One day I am curious to try this with red onions – that are somewhat sweeter than yellow ones.


  • That’s a little too much starch on the plate for me, not because I wouldn’t like. In fact, the opposite. Because I would like it!

  • Excellent! I love this simple and inexpensive dish. This type of hearty dish is a testament to the ingenuity of people who undergo hard times and still need to eat a nutritional and filling meal. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • When you say not to leave the garlic for more than 30 seconds, do you mean you heat it with the oil for 30 seconds and then remove the garlic before adding the onions? Or do you leave the garlic in the skillet and add the onions? Thank you!

  • J.O: Thanks for the comment – sorry for the confusion.

    The garlic remains there. In other words – garlic heats up with oil, and depending if you are using a heavy bottomed skillet like I do, you will probably need to start counting the 30 seconds when you see the first sizzling signs. Once the 30 seconds are up, toss in the chopped onions.

    I think the principle is to never let the garlic saute too much – when it turns brown, it’ll start to taste bitter.

    hope this helps!

  • Reminds me of something my Oma would make. Hearty fare from the old country! I bet it’s even wonderful sans pasta. As to the carb (God, I’m sick of that word) content…it isn’t the carbs we should fear, it’s our lack of exercise. I will make this soon and enjoy every starchy bite :-]

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