General

5 budget-friendly recipes to add to your weeknight rotation | Arts And Culture

5 budget-friendly recipes to add to your weeknight rotation | Arts And Culture

Inflation is dominating the news, and all we seem to be talking about at New York Times Cooking (virtual) headquarters is how much groceries cost.

I picked five bang-for-your-buck recipes to share. And here are a few basic rules for when you’re thinking about meals and current grocery prices: Move away from meat (which is up considerably, especially beef) or make recipes that use it in smaller amounts. Embrace vegetables and beans, which are less impacted by inflation. Canned tuna is your friend, as are anchovies, which can bring incredible flavor to your cooking.

CHICKEN-ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS WITH FETA 

Generally speaking, meatballs are a thrifty way to eat meat: Ground meat is less expensive than steaks or chicken breast, and the meat is “stretched” with added ingredients. A little goes a longer way. In this excellent Ali Slagle recipe, the addition is zucchini — inexpensive always and abundant right now.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 large shallot, halved

1/2 cup panko

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 pound ground chicken or turkey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, basil, parsley or dill, plus more for serving

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling

3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

4 ounces feta

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425 F. Cut 2 of the zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a plate, season with salt, and set aside. Working over a large bowl, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the remaining zucchini. Grate 1 shallot half into the bowl as well. Add the panko, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and use your hands to toss until combined. Add the chicken and herbs and toss gently until combined.

Lightly grease a baking sheet. With wet hands, form the chicken mixture into 16 meatballs (around 2 to 3 tablespoons each) and place them on one side of the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the sliced zucchini dry, then lightly coat with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with pepper. Coarsely chop the remaining shallot half and transfer to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, season with salt, and stir to combine.

Add the sliced zucchini to the other half of the baking sheet, moving the meatballs over, if necessary. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and the zucchini is golden on the underside, another 15 to 20 minutes. For more browned meatballs, broil for a few minutes, if desired. Crumble the feta into the shallot mixture. Add the 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes. Stir, breaking up the feta a bit, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Eat the meatballs and zucchini with a drizzle of the feta sauce and more fresh herbs.




WEEKNIGHT DISHES 2

A salad of cold tofu, tomatoes and peaches, with basil and mint. This dish is best served with greens or with rice noodles tossed in some of the dressing. 




COLD TOFU SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND PEACHES

Fresh fruits and vegetables have been less susceptible to inflation, which makes this gorgeous silken tofu salad from Hana Asbrink a good choice for dinner. Serve it with greens or with rice noodles tossed in some of the dressing.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the salad:

12 to 14 ounces silken tofu, chilled

2 to 3 ripe medium peaches

3 to 4 ripe medium tomatoes

Flaky sea salt

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

Black pepper

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the tofu: Carefully drain the tofu in its packaging, then remove the tofu. Gently wrap it with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture and set it on a plate.

Prepare the peaches and tomatoes: Pit and cut each peach into 1-inch-thick wedges, then core and cut each tomato into 1-inch-thick wedges. Place tomatoes and peaches on a serving platter, pouring any tomato or peach juices from the cutting board over the dish. Season generously with flaky sea salt to draw out juices.

Remove the tofu from the paper towels and place it back on the plate. Using a large spoon, scoop out tofu mounds onto the tomatoes and peaches. Season tofu with flaky sea salt.

Prepare the dressing: In a small glass jar, combine dressing ingredients, cover and shake to combine. Spoon 4 tablespoons of the dressing over the tomatoes, peaches and tofu. Extra dressing can be served alongside.

Just before serving, stack together the basil and mint leaves and roughly chop. Top the salad with chopped herbs and black pepper. Serve immediately, taking care to spoon extra dressing and juices from the bottom of the platter.


PASTA WITH TUNA, CAPERS AND SCALLIONS

This Melissa Clark dish says “I’m having a light meal on Mediterranean island,” and you can buy most of the ingredients at Costco. Cheap and chic, and easy to make, too.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Salt

12 ounces long, thin pasta, such as bucatini, spaghetti or linguine

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

6 to 10 anchovies, chopped

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 cup torn fresh herbs, such as parsley and dill, or celery leaves, plus more for serving (optional)

One 5- or 6-ounce can tuna, drained

Red-pepper flakes, for serving

Lemon wedges, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a well-salted pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, saving 1 cup pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add garlic and scallion whites, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add anchovies and capers and cook until anchovies melt and capers and garlic turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add 1/2 cup pasta water, let it reduce until there is just a little left in the pan, then add pasta and herbs and toss well to coat. Add tuna and toss well.

Serve with red-pepper flakes on top, more herbs, scallion greens, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.


VEGAN COCONUT-GINGER BLACK BEANS

In addition to being enormously versatile and climate-friendly, beans tend to be pretty affordable, especially if you start with dried beans. You can feed yourself handsomely with recipes like this one, from Ali Slagle, which pairs black beans with coconut milk, a classic combination found in various cuisines.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Two 15-ounce cans black beans

2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin or coriander

One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 3 tablespoons)

One 13-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 cup plantain chips or toasted coconut flakes

1 teaspoon lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice (from 1 lime)

Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Rinse 1 can of black beans, and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium. Add the cumin and half of the ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rinsed black beans and the remaining whole can of black beans (including the liquid), and the coconut milk; season generously with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil over medium-high, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and the mixture is flavorful, 15 to 20 minutes. (If you want a thicker consistency, smash some of the beans with the back of a spoon as the mixture cooks, and simmer longer.)

In a small bowl, crumble the plantain chips into bite-size pieces. Add the lime zest and a few generous grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine.

Remove the beans from the heat. Stir in the remaining ginger and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the lime juice a little at a time until the beans taste bright but the coconut flavor is still rich. Top with the seasoned plantain chips and serve with hot sauce for more kick.


CARAMELIZED-SCALLION NOODLES

This Francis Lam recipe checks a lot of boxes. It’s cost-effective. It’s make-ahead, in large part (the sauce will keep in your refrigerator for weeks). It’s customizable for eaters of all ages. It’s an excellent vehicle for leftover meat and vegetables. And it’s completely delicious! Make it!

Yield: 2 servings

Total time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Salt

6 ounces Chinese broccoli (or other cooking greens), cut into 2-inch pieces

10 ounces fresh noodles (or 6 ounces dry pasta)

6 tablespoons caramelized-scallion sauce (find recipe online), or to taste

3 to 4 ounces cooked chicken, ham, tofu, mushrooms or whatever meaty thing you like, sliced, warm

2 soft-boiled eggs, halved

Oyster sauce, to taste

Soy sauce, to taste

Raw ginger or spicy pickles of your choice, julienne, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Bring a pot of water to boil, and salt it well. Cook the Chinese broccoli until tender, about 4 minutes. Scoop the greens out with a skimmer, and dry well. Keep the water boiling.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. As soon as they’re drained, return them to the empty pot, off heat, and dress them with 6 tablespoons of the caramelized-scallion sauce or to taste. Season with salt, if desired.

Divide the noodles into bowls, and top with the Chinese broccoli, the chicken (or whatever protein you choose) and the eggs. Drizzle oyster sauce on the Chinese broccoli, and season the eggs with a few drops of soy sauce. Top with a few pinches of julienne ginger or pickles, and serve immediately.

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s) {if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod? n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)}; if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′; n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,’script’, ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’); fbq(‘init’, ‘915327909015523’); fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);