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Spaghetti Meal With Twist And On The Cheap

Amanda Freitag is all about feeding the family.

She's executive chef at The Harrison, in Manhattan's trendy Tribeca neighborhood. Freitag treats guests to an inspired New-American menu that tourists and New Yorkers alike can't seem to get enough of.

As The Early Show Saturday Edition's "Chef on a Shoestring," Freitag sought to take a traditional, three-course spaghetti dinner and give it a little twist any family would love - on our new, lower, recession-busting budget of $35.

And, we introduced another challenge to our "Shoestring" chefs. We're calling it "How Low Can You Go?" The chef who prepares the least-costly meal will be back at the end of the year to create our big, blowout holiday feast!


  • Beet Salad with Crushed Pistachios & Soft Goat Cheese
  • Lamb Ragu with Rigatoni and Fresh Ricotta
  • Greek Yogurt with Blood Oranges, Honey & Mint


    Chevre is a generic term that denotes a cheese made from the milk of goats. "Chevre" means goat in French. Most cheeses incorporating goat's milk use chevre in their labeling so consumers seeking goat cheeses will be able to readily identify them. Chevre can come in a wide range of forms, from soft farmer's cheeses to fully-cured, firm varieties.

    Lamb is meat from a sheep less than a year old. Most are brought to market at about six-to-eight months old. When purchasing, look for good marbling (white flecks of fat within the meat muscle), and meat that's finely textured and firm. The meat should be pink and the fat should be firm, white, and not too thick.

    Blood Oranges are juicy, sweet and have a dark red interior and are slightly less acidic than regular table oranges. Blood oranges are great for juicing and using as you would common orange juice. The dark red color of the juice makes it a good cocktail ingredient. Use fresh blood orange segments in salads and sauces.


    Beet Salad with Crushed Pistachios & Goat Cheese

    2 cups, julienned beets
    ½ cup pistachios, toasted & chopped
    1 cup soft goat cheese, such as chevre
    1 bunch watercress
    Beet vinaigrette

    Beet Vinaigrette:
    1 cup red wine vinegar
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 small beet, peeled and cut large dice
    3 shallots, sliced
    2 cups extra virgin olive oil
    Pinch salt
    1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

    For Beet Vinaigrette:

    Bring vinegar, sugar, beet and shallots to a boil and simmer until the sugar melts (about 1 minute).

    Remove from the heat and add olive oil, season with salt and cracked pepper.

    For Salad:

    Toss beets with the vinaigrette along with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit while you prepare the plates.

    Spread a circle of goat cheese onto the center of each plate with the back of a spoon. Add watercress and pistachios to the beets and place on top of the circle of cheese.

    Once each salad is plated finish by drizzling vinaigrette around the perimeter of the plate and sprinkle each salad with toasted pistachios.

    Lamb Ragu with Rigatoni & Fresh Ricotta

    1 pound ground American lamb meat
    1 onion, diced
    6 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
    2 tablespoons oregano, chopped finely
    1-1/2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped finely
    1 can (14-and-a-half ounce) whole plum tomatoes
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 pound rigatoni pasta
    1 cup fresh ricotta
    Salt and pepper

    In a high sided sauté pan add olive oil and heat to medium and sauté the onions until translucent.

    Add in the sliced garlic, oregano and mint. Sauté together for about 1 minute and then add the ground lamb.

    Cook the lamb for about 5 minutes, periodically mashing with a spoon to break up the meat into small pieces.

    Add in the plum tomatoes whole and cook for about one hour. Stir during cooking to break up the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 11 minutes.

    When the pasta is cooked toss together with the lamb ragu and the fresh mint and serve in a bowl.

    Garnish with a dollop of fresh ricotta and a crack of black pepper.


  • Greek Yogurt with Blood Oranges

    2 cups Greek yogurt
    1 cup blood orange segments (with juice)
    1/4 cup honey
    1 tablespoon Fresh mint, chopped

    Scoop out 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt into each bowl.

    Spoon over blood orange segments and some juice.

    Drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey over the yogurt and the oranges.

    Sprinkle with chopped mint and serve.

    So, how did Freitag do with our $35 budget?:

    Beet Salad
    beets $3.48
    pistachios $1.49
    goat cheese $3.99
    watercress $1.49
    red wine vinegar .79
    shallots $1.25
    Total Price $12.49

    Lamb Ragu
    lamb $3.99
    onion .56
    garlic .39
    oregano $1.49
    mint .69
    plum tomatoes $1.99
    rigatoni $1.49
    ricotta $2.49
    Total Price $13.09

    Greek Yogurt
    Greek yogurt $4.99
    blood oranges $1.58
    honey $2.19
    Total Price $8.76

    Overall total: $34.34, our first entry in our new "How Low Can You Go?" challenge.

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