Cheap and Vegan, serves at least 4, and can be made for a meat eater in a pinch.
1 lb pasta, organic whole wheat angel hair or gluten free rice pasta
½ Cup olive tapenade ( you can find this on the olive bar at your market, in a jar, or you can make your own by whipping a few handfuls of mixed olives with brine in a food processor)
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained, brine reserved
1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, do not rinse.
While pasta is cooking: In a dry pan, lightly toast the chick peas with paprika, garlic salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the dry seasoning and shake and rotate pan to coat. When chick peas are very dry and toasty (but seasoning is not scorched) transfer to cutting board. Rough chop them. If you have a metal pastry blender (the contraption you use to make biscuit dough), put peas in a bowl and mash them with that. Kitchen tools need to serve more than one purpose anyway.
Add tapenade, artichokes, and 1 TBSP of artichoke brine to the same sauté pan (the residual seasoning will color the ragout and add flavor). Heat through on medium. Toss drained pasta in to coat. You may need to add more artichoke brine to thin the sauce for even coating. Last, toss in chopped chick peas.
At this point, you can top with grated parmesan or Romano cheese or add salt and pepper grilled chicken.
Estimated cost to feed four (vegan version, based on co-op pricing in Atlanta GA): $11