I’ve got a black clutch that I’ve owned since 1921. Ok, not really, but I’ve had it for over 10 years. I bought it for one cent (again, not really, but you know what I mean!) from a small store in the Greek Islands. I use it pretty much every time I leave the house to go to dinner, a wedding, a fancy lunch, or any other event that requires me to look dressed up. I also own a stunning, hot pink, fully beaded Gucci purse that I’ve used, ummm, let me think, NEVER. It’s too delicate, doesn’t match a thing in my wardrobe and is so small that even a lip-gloss would struggle to get inside. My point? Sometimes the best things in life are not the most expensive.
This is a principle that I believe also applies to food. The yummiest and most satisfying meals are not necessarily the most expensive ones. In fact they don’t have to be expensive at all.
In a recent episode of My Kitchen Rules the contestants competed against each other to cook to a budget of around ten dollars. Sounds tricky but when you break it down it’s not! These days we have so many options in the supermarket and an abundance of inspiration on TV, the internet, in magazines and so on, that there really is no excuse to be spending big bucks on our every day lunches and dinners! Unless you want to, of course!
There’s nothing better than a recipe book, binder, folder, or whatever floats your boat, jam-packed with excellent and inexpensive meals. So let’s all share! I will start with 3 of my favourite recipes that don’t cost the earth to make.
1. BROCCOLI, PINE NUT AND PARMESAN TAGLIATELLE WITH LEMON, CHILLI AND GARLIC – $5.19 per serve
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 x Small head broccoli
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 small red chilli, chopped finely (seeds or no seeds, up to you!)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (toast yourself or buy already toasted)
1/2 cup parmesan
Boil broccoli (DO NOT OVERCOOK IT! I REPEAT DO NOT OVERCOOK! You should ALWAYS retain a good crunch and a nice bright green colour when cooking broccoli!) Even though you won’t be serving the stalk, boil it as well so it flavours the water that you will then cook the pasta in.
Into a fry pan, over medium-heat, add some olive oil and the garlic, cook it off for about a minute (do not burn!)
Add in lemon zest, chilli and pine nuts and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Toss in the boiled broccoli and cook for about another minute or so, just enough to get flavour into broccoli.
Cook the pasta – in the same water that you cooked the broccoli – (again, don’t overcook it!) and drain. Once done, toss through half of the cheese, salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of olive oil, enough to coat the pasta and keep it moist.
Combine Pasta and Broccoli and top with the remaining Parmesan.
2. SPINACH AND FETA GOZLEME – $1.84 per serve
250g self raising flour
220g full fat natural Greek yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra flour for dusting
2 cups chopped spinach (can use any type, even baby leaves!)
1 cup crumbled feta (I used preserved lemon and bay leaf marinated feta for extra flavour!)<
Place yoghurt in a bowl. Mix it up with a fork so that it becomes “flat”, add salt and mix some more.
Slowly add the flour, whilst stirring at the same time. You will think that it will never combine….But do not fear…..
It will combine! You want it to be firm and only ever so slightly sticky. Once combined, knead on a surface lightly dusted in flour and then form into a ball.
Place in a bowl and cover with cling film, Leave to rest for 15 minutes
After 15 minutes, take it out of the bowl and cut it into four quarters.
One at a time, roll out the dough quarters. You want to get it paper thin, thin to the point that it is ALMOST see through.
Add scattering of spinach.
Add scattering of feta
Fold over and seal edges using the end of a fork, or just your fingers is fine.
Slam the little baby into a hot, oiled pan (I used the oil from my marinated feta but olive is just as good)
Flip it when golden and cook the other side.
Cut with a pizza cutter and serve with lemon wedges.
3. SMOKED SALMON, PEA + POTATO FRITTATA – $3.28 per serve
Note: To make this dish you will need a large, deep pan (approx 30cm diameter) that can transfer from stove top to oven. This frittata serves 6 -8 people, depending on how large you cut the pieces!
8 new potatoes
250 grams extra-large penne pasta, or similar
200 grams peas (frozen are fine!)
10 spring onions, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
50 grams butter
Olive oil (3-4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
Salt (2 teaspoons) and pepper (1 teaspoon)
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons cream
Lemon zest, from half a lemon
200 grams smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1 cup grated tasty cheese
Boil new potatoes, making sure not to overcook! Firm but not floury!!! Once done, remove from hot water, place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, remove skin and slice into 1cm thick slices. Set aside.
Cook pasta (again, don’t OVER cook – keep an eye on it!) and set aside. Boil peas, set aside.
In a fry pan, fry off your spring onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Do this on a medium heat as you don’t want to colour the onions/ burn anything, just soften. After a few minutes, add in the butter and fry off for a further 3 mins or so. Toss the cooked/drained pasta thoroughly through this onion/garlic mixture and set aside.
In a large bowl, crack your 8 eggs. Add the salt, pepper, lemon zest and cream and whisk thoroughly. Remember the cream is TOTALLY optional, in fact, leave it out, it is such a small amount it won’t make a difference! I used it and that’s why it’s in the pic!
Add smoked salmon to the egg mixture and stir through. Then add all other ingredients, (except the cheese!!) mixing through gently but thoroughly i.e. you want an even distribution.
Place deep pan on medium heat on cook top, add a tablespoon of olive oil to base of pan and then add mixture on top. Flatten out. Cook on medium for about 7 minutes or until the egg is set on the sides but still quite runny in the middle. After 7 mins, add the grated cheese evenly to the top and transfer to preheated oven (grill setting) for a further 7 or so minutes. You want the egg to have firmed up and the melted cheese to had gained good colour before you remove. WARNING – if you cook too long on either the stove top or in the oven it WILL become dry!!!! In my opinion, these things are always better served under than over-cooked.
And you’re done! Allow to cool before slicing. Delicious warm or cold. Great for lunch the next day. Serve with lemon wedges and rocket salad (dressed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.)
Phoodie’s culinary obsession began when she was 3. A move to London in 2009 was the catalyst she needed to throw caution to the wind and enrol is the world famous Le Cordon Bleu cookery school. Upon her course completion, she worked with some of the UK and Europe’s top chefs assisting them in the classes they ran. Phoodie is a cookbook, restaurant, and supermarket obsessed blogger and Mum of 2. Phoodie blogs here, is on Facebook here and tweets here.
What are your favourite budget recipes? Come on, share!