Cauliflower casserole — 87¢ per serving

plate

Casserole is mankind’s greatest achievement.

On a cold day, there is nothing like that cheesy, gooey, savory, crispy goodness. Sorry Pyramids, germ theory, and Internet. You aren’t cutting it. You don’t keep me warm and fill me with gladness like casserole does.

crisp

I mean do you see that cheese and crispy top??

This recipe could be liberally altered, so make it with whatever you have on hand. At it’s core it’s basically just a cheese sauce with vegetables and a topping.

caul

Mmm. Cheese sauce. And if it sounds hard, it’s not. Once you have that, toss in some veggies, and you are pretty much done.

veggies

Pure goodness.

The topping is made with breadcrumbs, but chips, crackers or cereal would work fine too. I used cauliflower and green beens, but use anything.

Serves: 6-8

Total cost: $5.27

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 c green beans, frozen or canned (cook if fresh)
  • 3/4 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbs oil, divided (2 for sautéing and 1 for topping), or butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/4 c cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3/4 c cream
  • 1 c water or stock (or use 2 c whole milk in place of water and cream, or 2 c skim milk and an extra 1 1/2 tbs butter)
  • 5 tbs butter
  • 5 tbs flour

Directions:

  1. Steam cauliflower, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic powder, and a dash of salt. Add 1 tbs oil and toss to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet or small saucepan, heat 2 tbs oil and sauté onions with salt and a dash of pepper until beginning to caramelize at medium heat. Add garlic, cook until golden. Set aside.
  4. In a good-sized saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until it smells somewhat nutty. Mix the water and cream and slowly add to the mixture (if you are using skim milk and butter, add the extra butter after the milk has been incorporated) while whisking. Add the onion and garlic mixture and whisk. Once mixture is warm again, add the cheeses a little at a time while whisking. Once thoroughly incorporated, turn off heat, and with saucepan still on stove, fold in vegetables.
  5. Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with crumb mixture. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the top doesn’t burn. If it starts to get a little too brown cover with a sheet of foil or a lid.

The “fish” that cured anemia

As a vegetarian, people are always telling me I need to watch my protein and iron. (Actually, this parody Vegan Style really sums it up.)

Screen shot 2014-01-25 at 4.21.07 PMFor the most part, the sheer volume of leafy greens and the occasional grits I consume solves the iron issue, and the whole protein thing is really a MYTH. But for people who do need to worry about their iron for whatever reason, this one little “fish” seems to really do the trick.

According to this article in the Atlantic, anemia is a major problem in Cambodia and in the developing world. While cast iron skillets effectively transfer iron into food, the pots can still be prohibitively expensive.

One researcher had the idea of giving locals a block of iron to put in their foods while cooking … but the plan mostly backfired since everyone ended up using it as a doorstop. A local suggested making it into a fish shape since fishes are lucky symbols in that area. It worked, and everyone started placing them in their pots. The result? No more anemia in the village.

Cabbage noodles with sriracha sauce – $1.04

If your cabbage experience has been limited to coleslaw, you have been missing out.

Thinly sliced cabbage is extremely tender, but the rigidity of the plant helps it maintain some of its structure. It has a neutral flavor,  making it a perfect vehicle for sauce.

Continue reading

Creamy tomato sauce – $1.41

tomato sauce | cheapvegetarian.com

Heaven is an infinite supply of this pasta sauce.

This dish has a secret ingredient. Anchovies. The sauce tastes nothing like fish, yet it has a subtle savory note to it. Not only did I eat double (maybe triple) what I normally eat for dinner, but then when I got too full for spaghetti, I started eating it straight up with just a spoon. Divine. It’s simply divine. 

Continue reading

Split pea soup – $1

soup

There is really nothing quite like split pea soup on a cold day.

The peas simply melt in  your mouth with an earthy flavor that’s perfectly paired with the warmth of garlic and onions and the sweetness in carrots. It feels healthy and like a comfort food at the same time–not quite sure how it’s possible.

I was starving at work today, really starving, and also craving Cheetos. So I went ahead and bought a bag from the vending machine for a whopping $1.25, and what goes better with that than a can of ginger ale, so there goes another $0.75. So, for $2, I got crap that made me really feel only  less hungry… and then I spent the same amount and I get dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow, plus more to freeze. Insane. You rock dried legumes.

Continue reading