Friday, October 10, 2008

Desperate Times Call for More Frugal Ingredients

Time to save those truffle shavings for another day. Tonight we're gonna menu plan like it's 1929! Here are my Top 5 austerity budget meals.

1. Tomato Bread Soup
Don't let that day old baguette go to waste. Also, it's still high season for tomatoes at the farmers' markets here in the Southland.

2. Arroz con Pollo
This dish makes great use of the cheaper (and tastier) cuts of chicken: thighs and legs.

3. Pasta with Tuna, White Bean, Arugula
Might be a bit of a stretch given the arugula factor, but hopefully you can find a bunch for $2.00 or less at your farmer's market.
Note: Just add a can of cannelli beans when the recipe calls for adding the tuna.

4. Red Snapper Livornese
I recently found great quality snapper fillets at our local fishmongers, Santa Monica Seafood and Fish King in Glendale, CA, for around $7.99/pound. Capers and olives are always on hand in my fridge or pantry.

5. Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino
A deliciously minimal dish that brings big returns on flavor, if properly executed. Some believe this dish to be the benchmark of a cook's competency in Italian cuisine.

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 peperoncino (dried red chili pepper), seeded and torn into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
12 ounces spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a small pan, add the garlic and chili and cook over low heat for a few minutes until the garlic is golden brown. Season lightly with salt, remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente, then drain, toss with the garlic and chile oil.

Tell us about your favorite financial meltdown meals in Comments.