Also known as Got Too Excited at the Mexican Market and Had No Idea How to Use Up What I Bought. I didn’t have any immediate plans for a bunch of fresh epazote and the little wheel of cotija cheese I found on markdown for $1. I had originally tried to make Salvadorean pupusas, which were edible, but the creation was too fussy and difficult to inflict on readers. (Believe it or not, I don’t post everything I make here; just dishes that are both worthy of making again and that I feel are possible for folks to successfully re-create on their own.) Instead, I decided to use the oat groats I still had on hand from the oat groats with blue cheese, walnuts & spinach and cook them as one would cook traditional arroz verde, in broth puréed with herbs. It turned out to be a great introduction to epazote, whose flavor can be kind of overwhelming on its own. If you can’t find fresh epazote (I don’t recommend dried), cilantro or parsley, or a mixture of the two, can be substituted.
If you’ve never had oat groats before, which are the whole-grain version of the oat, they’re a bit like barely; they absorb flavors well and have a satisfying chew. As below, it makes 4 servings.
• 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced: $1.43
• 2 T fat (I used leftover chicken fat, you could use bacon fat, vegetable oil, butter, etc.): $0
• 1 1/2 cups oat groats (look for these in the bulk bins at a natural-foods store or co-op; it’ll be cheaper than anywhere else, if you can even find them anywhere else): 75 cents
• 1 onion, chopped: 25 cents
• 2 garlic cloves, minced: 2 cents
• Cotija cheese, for sprinkling (kind of cheating; this was $1 on markdown; queso fresco, ricotta salata, or even Parmesan could substitute): 50 cents
• 1/4 cup tightly packed epazote leaves (or parsley or cilantro, or a combination): 80 cents
• 2 tsp dried oregano: 5 cents
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes: 5 cents
• 2 1/2 cups broth or stock (I used frozen turkey broth): $0
• Salt to taste: 1 cent
TOTAL: $3.86/4 = 96 cents/serving
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put the epazote or other herb leaves in the bowl of a blender.
Add 1 cup of the stock or broth and purée.
Heat an oven-proof pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the fat. When heated, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt; cook until mushrooms have released all their liquid and are starting to brown. Add the oat groats, oregano and red pepper flakes; and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the puréed herb mixture and the rest of the broth. Add salt to taste and bring to a simmer.