Category Archives: frugal

Asian Inspired Salad

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I like some of the packaged salads for convenience- you rip open the bag, dump into a bowl, pour on the dressing and in two minutes lunch is ready. However, the variety of ingredients is not great and it is kind of expensive to pay that much for what in many cases is just chopped cabbage. So, I’ve switched to making our own and plan to pre-prep most of the ingredients in the future so I can just pick and choose. I’ve also taken to making almost all of our dressings. I put the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake at least 100 times. Shaking that much and using enough oil helps it to emulsify and really blend.  It thickens a bit and I wind up using less. OK, here’s the winter salad mix:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 medium head of cabbage, cleaned, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 5 romaine leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large radishes, sliced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 hot pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 pepperoncini peppers sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4-1/3 cup roasted peanuts or almonds

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. chopped ginger root

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve into serving bowls. Mix dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously at least one hundred times so that the ingredients blend and thicken. Use to taste on the salad. If you don’t have everything, sub other ingredients. Snowpeas are a delicious addition. Enjoy!

 

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Zucchini Fritters for Meatless Monday

I LOVE zucchini fritters, called “mucver”  in Turkish. They are just a delightful meal, side dish or tea snack. Delicious. Beautiful green zucchini, a few green onions, a little white or yellow onion, dill, eggs, feta cheese, pepper, a few spoonfuls of flour and you are good to go. The recipe I adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Kitchen is here:  http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/04/zucchini-courgette-fritters-flavored-with-feta-and-dill-mucver/

I changed a couple of things. While fresh dill would definitely be ideal, I used dried because I didn’t have fresh and didn’t feel like going to the store. I also used generous heaping tablespoons of flour. I think it is best to taste one fritter before adding salt. The feta may be sufficiently salty that you don’t need to add more. Finally, and this is really important, is that yes, you need to drain the grated zucchini. But after draining the zucchini, dump the drained squash onto a clean kitchen towel. Bring the ends of the towel together. Holding over the sink, twist the towel so that it wrings out more of the zucchini juice. It makes a big difference in how well the fritters hold together. I also think it makes them less greasy since the mixture holds together better, forms a crust and then you have a nice crisp exterior with creamy savory inside. As for all frying, use vegetable oil that you get hot enough so that the fritters cook properly. If the oil is hot enough, but not too hot, you will actually use less oil than if the temperature is too low. And, take my advice here. I tend to multi-task when I cook. Do NOT multitask when you fry. Just stop the other jobs and focus on frying. It will not take much longer and you will have much better results.

Enjoy!!

East-West Dipping Sauce for Roasted Veggies

We like to eat roasted veggies. Often, on Meatless Monday, we will have roasted veggies for lunch. It is a great way to use up all those stray vegetables in your refrigerator drawer before they turn into science projects. Plus it tastes wonderful. It tastes fine with just a little salt, olive oil, and red pepper flakes on it, but sometimes, especially if you are eating only roasted vegetables for the meal and not just as a side, it is good to serve a dipping sauce. This is my favorite one so far:

  • 2 T. tahin
  • 1 T. tamarind sauce
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1 large spoonful yogurt
  • 1 tsp. sriracha

Put the tahin in a small bowl. Dump in the tamarind and soy sauces. Microwave about 30 seconds. Then whisk in the yogurt and the sriracha sauce. Serve with roasted veggies. Yum.

Enough for two to three meal sized servings of roasted veggies.

Not Just Meatless Monday Quesadillas

These are so good, you are going to want to make them regardless of whether it is Meatless Monday or not. They are very quick to put together, nutritious, and filling. Here’s how:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans (or see Bean Filling below)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt to taste.
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (American, Mexican)
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • butter for greasing skillet

Heat a skillet or cast iron griddle to medium. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. Heat the corn and the refried beans (or bean filling) for a minute or two in the microwave. Peel and seed the avocados in a small to medium sized bowl. Add in the lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until it is kind of a chunky guacamole. Assemble the quesadillas. Lay the tortillas on the counter in a row. Spread a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture on each tortilla. I like to cover about half the tortilla. Next, spread about 1/4 of the guacamole. Then, sprinkle 1/4 of the corn, and 1/3 cup of cheese on each tortilla. Lastly sprinkle the top with the salsa. Carefully fold in half. Quickly grease the griddle or skillet. Lay the quesadillas on the griddle and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Turn over and move to a serving plate. Repeat until all are cooked. Enjoy!

Delish Quick Main dish with Tri-Color Veggie Rotini

I have tried enough dishes calling for tri-color pasta to be dubious. I have found the flavors don’t always mix well with other ingredients or I undercook the pasta- it seems to take a bit longer to cook than non-veggie pasta. I don’t know, it just has not been a very positive taste experience. This one, however, is. It is an adaptation of a recipe in my cookbook, Turkish Family Favorites, which is available from Amazon.com (hint, hint). It sounds like a ho-hum recipe, but trust me: follow the directions exactly and be sure to use the yogurt sauce. That makes the dish.

  • 1 6 oz. package tri-color veggie rotini
  • Salt for cooking pasta and for seasoning meat
  • 2 generous soupspoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably lean*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 tsp. (or more or less to taste) hot pepper
  • water if needed for meat and for cooking pasta

Yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup plain, low-fat or whole yogurt (do NOT use fat-free)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed

Mix the salt, yogurt, and garlic together in a small bowl. Set aside to use when serving. This is one of the most delicious combinations ever, although when I first heard of it, I thought it sounded vile. But it is so yummy and elevates this simple dish to hard-core comfort food.

Cook the rotini in a generous amount of salted water until done. It will take about 11 minutes, but test it and be sure. Drain and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion until it softens and starts to brown. Stir in the ground beef, break up, and continue cooking until there is no more pink left. Drain the oil from the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, hot pepper (I like Indian chile pepper but cayenne is also fine. Red pepper flakes are also good.) Add salt to taste. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup of water, but this part of the dish will be fairly dry, not soupy like spaghetti sauce.

When rotini is done and has been drained, empty into a serving bowl. Top off with the meat mixture and stir well. Serve and pass the yogurt sauce around so each person can put a dollop of yogurt sauce on their rotini. Excellent. 4-6 servings. Takes all of about 15-20 minutes and you control what’s in there. Beats takeout or packaged macaroni any time.

* There are several possible substitutions here. I think this would work well with soy protein, ground chicken, or ground turkey. I personally prefer the ground beef, but the others would work and would be very tasty.