Three budget dinners

For this budget-themed Month of Food, I’ve been trying to keep track of the cost of my meals. It’s harder than I’d expected, though, especially when I cook recipes with a lot of different ingredients! Still, it’s interesting to compare recipes in terms of cost, and sometimes I’m surprised to find that certain ingredients can make a dish much more expensive than I’d thought. Below are a few meals I made this week.

Morroccan chickpeas & veggiesOn the left is a plate of the Morroccan chickpeas and zucchini from Appetite for Reduction with a few extra veggies thrown in. This type of recipe recipe is great for budget eating because you can use whatever cheap vegetables you have on hand—I made it to use up some spinach and cauliflower I still had in the freezer. The stew itself was around €0,50 per serving, and we had bread and hummus on the side.

PizzaOn the right: Pizza! I always use a mix of plain and wholemeal flour and make the dough from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, which costs €0,35 for two large pizzas (we always make a few smaller ones). My toppings weren’t the cheapest, though, so my entire pizza was about €0,70. It was mostly the spinach that made it expensive – a big bag of it seems cheap, but when it all wilts down there’s not much of it left.

I topped the pizza with a sprinkle of the chickpea parmigiana topping from Vegan Eats World, a clever recipe that uses mainly chickpea flour, olive oil, and lemon juice. It costs around €0,35-€0,45 depending on the type of oil you use, but you’ll only use a little at a time so one batch will probably last a long time. This topping doesn’t taste very cheesy to me (mostly just salty and lemony) but it could work as a budget-friendly alternative to nut cheeses or nutritional yeast for sprinkling on top of soups and pastas. Maybe next time I’ll try to add some miso or herbs for a bit more flavour. For this pizza I added the topping just before serving, but I prefer to add it before baking.

Broccoli & potato mash with soy-tan cutlets and chickpea gravyMy boyfriend loooves potatoes, and I got 2,5 kilos of them for €1 so we made ourselves some mash. This plate has mashed potatoes & broccoli with the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction and a soy-tan dream cutlet from 1000 Vegan Recipes. Cost: €0,55. Not bad!

Grilled yuca tortillas, baked falafel, and more summer meals

Grilled Yuca TortillasFor years I always skipped over the recipe for Grilled Yuca Tortillas in Veganomicon because I had never heard of yuca and I was sure that whatever it was, I had certainly never seen one at my local supermarket. This changed when I moved and started shopping at more different shops and markets, and sure enough, I’ve encountered this vegetable at a few different places now – it’s usually sold under the name cassava here – and I decided to finally give the recipe a try. Once I had picked up a package of frozen yuca pieces at Amazing Oriental, the dish was actually very easy to assemble: just boil and mash the yuca, add some sautéed vegetables and other ingredients, spread the filling onto a tortilla and grill until browned and crispy. I added roasted red peppers and black olives to the filling, both of which paired wonderfully with the creamy garlicky filling and provided a pretty colour contrast as well.

Now that I’ve tried this vegetable, I’d really like to make more dishes that feature yuca – I’d love to hear recipe recommendations if anyone has them!

These are a few other meals I’ve cooked this summer (I never got around to posting them so I figured I’d add them all to one post):

Falafel & sidesPictured above is the baked falafel from Appetite for Reduction served with flatbread, salad, garlic sauce, aubergine dip, and roasted red pepper spread. By the time I was done cooking, the meal was more about the sides than the falafel itself, which was fine by me – I love meals with loads of different salads and toppings. The bread is the 50/50 flatbread from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet, which was very simple and perfect as a quick side dish. I made it in a few different sizes but the large crispy ones were my favourite.

Quinoa & black bean saladThis is a bowl of the quinoa & black bean salad with toasted cumin seeds (also a recipe from AFR) that I made to keep in the fridge for quick healthy lunches. I did think it could use a few extra add-ins so I topped it with roasted red pepper slices here. This would be amazing with avocado on top, as well. The salad seems to be packed with nutritious things and it’s pretty filling so it would be great as a healthy meal on the go!

Roasted red pepper soupI had a big bag of red peppers to use up (I got 16 at the market for €1!), so after using some in the spread and on my salads I roasted a few of them to make this soup. It was simple (mostly just peppers blended with a little stock) but so full of flavour and colour.

Baby quiche!Finally, I modified the broccoli quiche recipe from Vegan Brunch (which is also online here) to make these muffin-sized spinach tomato quiches. This dish is one of my favourites from the book because it’s so easy to adapt using whatever vegetables you have on hand. It’s also really good cold or at room temperature so this recipe is perfect for picnics, especially if you make it into mini quiches like I did! Just bake them in a muffin tin (you could probably even make them crustless, though I haven’t tried that) and reduce the cooking time a bit (mine were in the oven for about 20-25 minutes). I didn’t want to spend too much time making the crusts look perfect, but I kind of like the way they turned out – lots of crispy edges!

Hope everyone’s having a lovely weekend!

AFR Baked Falafel

Baked FalafelIt was a cold and rainy day (hence the dark picture), but fortunately dinner was great! I made the Baked Falafel from Appetite for Reduction, which is a really quick, easy, and healthy recipe. It turned out pretty well, although it might’ve been even nicer if the patties had retained a little more texture from the chickpeas and onion. I don’t have a food processor to pulse the mixture properly (only an immersion blender), but my blender did come with a mini chopper so I’ll try and use that next time. We served the falafel with tahini sauce, salad, and chips/french fries (not pictured) and stuffed it all inside pita breads. Turns out the potato makes a really yummy addition!

That’s all I have to share for now. I need to go catch up on this weekend’s MoFo posts!

Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Tomato Rosemary Scones

Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper SoupHi! This will be a quick MoFo post as I still have some homework and I’d like to get some sleep soon. The above picture shows the Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper soup from Appetite for Reduction. It was really easy and quick to prepare once I had the roasted peppers ready, and it was quite delicious and flavourful too. I hope it freezes well because I’d love to make a big batch of this for days when we don’t feel like cooking.

Tomato Rosemary SconesMore orange food: the Tomato Rosemary Scones from Vegan Brunch! I halved the recipe, added some whole wheat flour, used dried rosemary rather than fresh and reduced the sugar, and I really liked them this way! But I think I’d like them even more with other savoury ingredients added, like garlic or olives, so maybe I’ll make the recipe again with a few more modifications.

That’s all I have for today, happy MoFoing (and/or reading) everyone!

Satay with Unfried Fried Rice and Peanut Sauce

I had tasted some of De Vegetarische Slager (the vegetarian butcher)’s products before, and when I found out that they now sell plain, non-marinated chicken pieces, I really wanted to give them a try. So when I visited my parents this weekend I decided to bring them a box of the vegan chicken and turn it into a peanut satay:

Rice & Peanut SatayI started in the morning by marinating the pieces in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal, garlic, and ginger. Then at dinner time, I sautéed them and served them over the Unfried Fried Rice from Appetite for Reduction (with added carrots, peas, and yellow bell pepper) with the delicious peanut sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance. The vegetarian butcher’s products are really very meat-like, and while that’s not necessarily something I look for in my food, they are quite tasty and I’m glad to see that some non-vegan family members consider these to be decent meat substitutes. It also looks like many of their faux meats don’t contain any gluten, so they could be a great option for vegetarians with allergies as well. I really hope to see these products in the supermarkets some day!

Now I think I’d better go to bed because I’m tired and it’s taking me forever to form sentences (: I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully with veggie burgers!

VeganMoFo 2011 is here!

It’s that time of the year again! VeganMoFo seems to be the only thing that can motivate me enough to actually post on my food blog regularly, so I’m totally ready for October to begin!

Well, kind of ready. I slapped a new layout onto my blog and took pictures of tonight’s dinner, but apart from that I haven’t really planned out my posts for the month yet. So I suppose I’m not that ready at all, but we’ll see where this goes! While I don’t have a specific theme, I’m planning on cooking and photographing as much food as possible and I hope I’ll make at least 20 or so posts! I do have a few MoFo resolutions:

Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli

  • Find new budget-friendly meals to cook for me and my boyfriend. While we love eating together, I sometimes find my boyfriend and I have pretty different tastes. I love veggies and beans much more than he does (for example, the Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction pictured above would probably be a bit too veggie-centred for him, while I could happily live on meals like that). This isn’t really a problem, but I’d still love to find more dishes we can enjoy together! Oh, and they can’t have too many expensive ingredients (like store-bought faux meats) because we’re students and our food budget is limited.
  • In the same vein: try to make everything from scratch. I’m always tempted to buy loads of fancy vegan products and review them using MoFo as an excuse, but that can be really expensive! And besides, I’d much rather learn to make those foods myself. I already know I’m going to make a few exceptions to this rule, and that’s okay, of course. In any case, I’m planning on making lots of homemade breads and veggie burgers!
  • Cook from my cookbooks! I always say this, but it’s true: I have a shelf full of awesome cookbooks and I should use them more often! It would be nice if I could cook from all my vegan cookbooks at least once this month (I don’t have that many books, so this isn’t as big a challenge as you might think).

My favourite part of MoFo is watching my feed reader explode with hundreds of posts ever day, so I can’t wait for this month to begin. Actually, it’s already been October for 53 minutes where I live, so I guess I’d better get started on that first post!

Rainy Days

Rain

It’s been raining for a week now and it’s starting to feel like it’s never going to stop. I usually don’t mind rain, but I have to say this is not what I hoped summer would be like. At least the lousy weather allows me to spend most of my day in the kitchen, which leads to delicious treats such as these:

Ravioli, waiting to be cooked

Ravioli

Homemade stuffed pasta! I’d planned on making ravioli, but I think the shapes I made are technically called agnolotti? In any case, they were quite a success. I made the pasta dough recipe from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, which was surprisingly simple to assemble and easy to work with, and I used the cashew ricotta from Veganomicon for the filling. We had these with a very simple tomato sauce, which was actually perfect; they’re already so tasty on their own that they don’t need much become a lovely meal. It’s a little sad that the dish took me a few hours to make yet it took us mere minutes to scarf it all down, but these little pasta pillows are definitely worth the trouble! I imagine making fresh pasta also gets easier once you get used to it, so I’d love to use the recipe again in the future.

Chickpea cutlet, fennel risotto, herb-roasted cauliflower

Today’s dinner is a bit too brown to make for a pretty food picture, but it sure was tasty: a chickpea cutlet from Veganomicon (I made a double batch), the fennel breakfast risotto from Vegan Brunch, and the herb-roasted cauliflower and bread crumbs from Appetite for Reduction. All of these recipes are excellent! My boyfriend wasn’t too keen on the roasted cauliflower, though – he prefers to have this vegetable boiled and mashed into potatoes. I guess I’ll make him the Caulipots from AFR next time!

We’ve been cooking from our pantry a lot lately, mainly because we don’t feel like going out in the rain to get groceries and also because it’s a good way to save money. Pizzas are especially pantry-friendly, since you can top them with whatever you have on hand:

Potato pizza

This pizza has cashew ricotta, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary, and olive oil. Perfectly crispy and flavourful!

Hopefully my next post will be about breakfast on the balcony and picnics on the beach… but it looks as though the rain isn’t going away anytime soon. I guess I’ll go make myself another cup of tea!