Tag Archives: salad

Sweet potato, apple & spinach salad: $1.47/serving

I make a lot of salads. Most of them I don’t bother posting here, as they’re usually just a mishmash of ingredients I happened to have lying around, paired with produce from the garden and tossed with some vinegar and olive oil. Simple, often boring (by food-blog standards, anyway), and not always good enough to bother re-creating. This salad, however, was an exception. It was originally supposed to be black beans and rice with roasted sweet potato and lime, but, as I came to discover at the last minute, I was out of black beans. Time for Plan B. Thanks to some apples from our neighbor’s tree and some spinach in the crisper, I was able to transmute most of the original ingredients into a salad that’s actually worth revisiting.

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Asian noodle salad with peanuts & mint: 90 cents/serving

I wish I could lay claim to this so-simple-it’s-genius salad, but believe it or not, it’s all Martha. I admit it’s more of a late-summer meal, especially given the cucumber, but given my aforementioned mint problem, it might be switching seasons. A word of advice: If you’re going to have leftovers, only dress one serving at a time, as the acid in the lime juice can break down the noodles and turn them mushy as they sit.

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Greek pasta salad with spinach and mint: $1.37/serving

Now that the weather has warmed up (although in Portland, “warmed up” means it’s no longer 32 degrees every night; more like a balmy 39), our garden mint has taken it upon itself to intrude on the personal space of nearly every plant in a 10-foot radius. I understand this is What Mint Does—and don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have anything green growing in the garden at all at this point—but it does create a dire need to use mint at least a couple times a week, to avoid wasting any of the prunings. I used to make mint chocolate chip ice cream at least once a week for this very purpose, but since our ice cream maker broke (has anyone else had this problem, with the Kitchen Aid bowls? After only two years it sprung a leak right where the dasher fits in, oozing an extremely toxic-looking electric-blue fluid), I’m having to get a little more creative.

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Whole grain & celery salad: $1.05/serving

This is a deceptively easy and satisfying dish that can be made using ingredients you probably already have on hand. It’s chewy, lightly crunchy, briny, and sweet, and works perfectly as a lunch (provided you’re having an equally inexpensive dinner), light dinner, or side dish for you non-budgeting folks. It’s also vegan and sit out for long periods, which makes it perfect for potlucks. As with the cabbage rolls, any whole grain—farro, barley, oat groats, rye berries—can be used.

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Blackened steak salad: $1.61/each

As you’re about to discover in the coming week, there’s a lot of discount steak wearing out its welcome in our chest freezer. When I first started the $35-a-week project I tended to get a little overexcited about cheap beef, not realizing how seldom we actually eat beef, so this dinner is one of a series of beef-based dishes born into existence to mitigate my misplaced enthusiasm.

It also has the added benefit of using up the remains of a jar of Cajun spice rub I made up over the summer for a variety of barbecue projects.

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Kisir lettuce wraps: $1.83/serving

If you only think of tabbouleh as a depressing selection from the hippie co-op deli case, this revved-up Turkish version, packed with savory tomato and spiked with both pomegranate arils and pomegranate molasses, might just change your mind about the utility of bulgur.

If you’ve never tried bulgur (plain ground wheat, basically), it can best be described as a more texturally satisfying, higher-protein version of couscous, and is in fact so filling that one dry cup’s worth will completely stuff three people. Some form of Turkish tabbouleh, or kisir, is often on a mezze platter if you ever go to a Middle Eastern restaurant, but I love this version best, adapted from “Plenty,” by Yotam Ottololenghi.

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Thai turkey salad with cilantro & mint: 33 cents/serving

And now for something completely different…yet not really. This is essentially a cooked-turkey version of the larb I made a couple weeks ago with chicken. I had even intended for it to be a lettuce wrap before realizing we were out of lettuce.

It doesn’t exactly showcase the turkey, as the Thai flavors are what come to the forefront, but we’ve been showcasing the turkey for four days now, so it’s a well-earned break.

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Yam het khao (white fungus salad): 96 cents/serving

Despite how often we shop at the Asian supermarket, from time to time we still come across something we’ve walked past probably 50 times and never noticed. This week it was the bags of white fungus. There’s probably half an aisle’s worth of these things—packages of feathery, chrysanthemum-like orbs in shades ranging from white to dark beige. That’s a lot of prime real-estate for something I initially thought was a bath sponge or some kind of “blooming tea” knockoff for those gimmicky glass teapots. I had to buy some and figure out what this stuff was.

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Larb gai (Thai chicken salad) lettuce wraps: $1.65/serving

Now that the sun is setting at, oh, 5 pm, super-quick dishes are of even greater import. I lose a lot of cooking motivation while sitting in traffic in the dark, and knowing I can crank something out in the time it would otherwise take to check my email keeps me from considering one of the myriad bad decisions post-work life has to offer. (*cough* fishing Domino’s circular out of the recycling *cough*.)

This recipe is adapted from a similar one in “The Essential New York Times Cookbook” which, for my money, ranks up there with Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” in terms of usefulness.

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Buying meat

It probably goes without saying that we don’t eat a lot of meat. When we do, it’s usually treated as a garnish, or plays a very minor non-speaking role in a dish. My general rule is that beef and pork should not cost more than $2.99/pound, and chicken should not cost more than $1.99/pound. (Although I usually buy whole chickens and break them down myself in order to use the bones and carcasses for stock, and for those I never pay more than 99 cents/pound.)

The easiest way to meet this budget is to buy in bulk, but at the rate we use meat it ends up sitting around for a bit too long, wearing out its welcome with freezer burn and off flavors.

Enter my favorite area of the grocery store: the discount meat bin.

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