Soba noodles with garden-herb chimichurri: 62 cents/serving

Yes, I realize this picture looks like a 5-year-old’s idea of fine dining, but think of it as a blank palette for whatever vegetables or greens you happen to have on hand. Believe me—this sauce works with anything. (Or nothing, as I’ve proven here.) I suppose it’s kiiiiinda a stretch to call it chimichurri, but I assure you it can be used in all your regular chimichurri applications and then some. Heidi Swanson calls it “magic sauce,” and she’s not kidding—you could slather it on a cardboard box and it’d taste fantastic. I like it because it can be made on the spur of the moment with herbs we always have on hand in the garden, and makes a great, simple appetizer with some country bread for sopping and a container of fleur de sel for sprinkling. It’s great on any grain you can think of, but I like soba for the added texture and wheaty flavor. Feel free to use sautéed greens, vegetables, chicken, tofu, or anything that strikes your fancy.

Special equipment:

-Mortar and pestle

This is best made a day in advance. It’s edible on the same day, but the difference is dramatic enough to plan ahead for.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks. (As below it makes about 2/3 cup, but it’s so cheap and so good that you’ll probably want to double it for use in other applications. If so, only use 2/3 cup per 12 oz. of noodles):

• 1/2 cup olive oil: 48 cents
• 2 cloves of garlic, put through a garlic press or smashed into a paste: 6 cents
• 1 pulverized or well-crumbled bay leaf: 1 cent
• 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (garden): $0
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (garden): $0
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (garden): $0
• 2 tsp sweet paprika: 10 cents
• Pinch of red pepper flakes: 2 cents
• 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt: 1 cent
• 1 T lemon juice: 10 cents

• 12 oz. buckwheat soba noodles: $1.69

TOTAL: $2.47/4 = 62 cents

Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Pound the rosemary, oregano, and thyme leaves in a mortar and pestle to release the oils. Stir the paprika, bay leaf, pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and lemon juice into the oil. Stir in the pounded herb mixture. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Before you want to eat, reheat the chimichurri in a small skillet or saucepan, just until warm.

Cook the soba according to package directions.

Once cooked, I recommend rinsing the noodles so they don’t stick together. Pour the chimichurri over the noodles—as well as whatever else you may have cooked up to accompany—and stir well to combine.

Reheat individual bowls of it in the microwave if you want it super-hot, but I think it’s great at room temperature.

Enjoy.

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