Cauliflower Bean Bowl – $3.51 recipe/ $0.35 serving

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I thought this would be the perfect recipe to kick off my new spin on this blog: frugal vegan cuisine. At just .35 a serving it fits even the most modest budget. The flavors are well balanced and mild enough for a sensitive palate. It’s also gluten free and low calorie- but still packed with protein. Most of my recipes are fairly inexpensive, but from now on I’ll really be breaking down the cost for you, and designing recipes and menus that are more intentionally budget friendly.

Total Meal Cost: $3.51       Cost Per Serving: $0.35      Number of Servings: 10 

Ingredients 

1 large head cauliflower ($1.29)

4 cups water (free!)

1 small can tomato paste (.70)

1 can kidney beans (.33)

1 can chickpeas (.33)

1 cup frozen peas (.25)

1 bouillon (.22)

3 cups rice (.25)  – made separately and set aside

1 tsp. cumin (.03)

1 tsp. vindaloo curry (.05)

1 tsp. onion powder (.03)

1/2 tsp. basil (.03)

salt to taste

1. First heat your water to nearly boiling.  I used a dutch oven to cook this, but you could use a large lidded pot.

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2. While your water is heating up, go ahead and slice your cauliflower. It will get tender while cooking so you can leave it in fairly large slices for now and break it apart with a spoon when it’s softer.

3. Now that your water is warm, add in the bouillon, tomato paste, and all of the herbs. 

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4. Now add your cauliflower to the pot. Cover and cook over high for about 15 minutes. You may want to stir it occasionally so that each piece of cauliflower has a chance to be submerged. 

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5. Your cauliflower should be lovely and tender now. You can take this time to break it up more with a wooden spoon. Add in your beans now and cook for an additional 10 minutes covered over medium heat. 

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6. Now add in the peas and mix. Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Taste to see if you need any more salt- add if desired. 

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7. I added some crushed red pepper and hot sauce to mine for extra heat. I served mine with basmati rice, but you could use any grain of your choice. 

Egyptian Olive Tapenade

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Dry oil cured and kalamata olives come together perfectly with Eqyptian duqqa (or dakka), a blend of spices frequently used in Egyptian side dishes, dips, and spreads. Served on good fresh bread with some zacusca (Romanian vegetable spread) , it’s a perfectly elegant vegan appetizer. I’ll be posting the recipe for homemade zacusca later, but you can also purchase it from European food markets. This recipe may seem like a splurge, but I always remember that when it comes to party foods- making something like this at home will still always be less expensive than going out to eat.

Ingredients (this makes about 25 perfect slices)

15 oz. dry cured olives (or about 24 olives)

10 oz. kalamata olives (or about 15 olives

1 tsp. duqqa

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 loaves good French or Italian bread

zacusca (optional- you could use vegan cream cheese, hummus, or any nice veggie spread of your choice)

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1. Gather your ingredients. I used olives with pits so I had to manually pit each olive. 

2. Dice your olives and put them in a small mixing bowl. Add in olive oil, and spices. 

3. Mix the olives well. Slice your bread, I like to heat my french bread in the oven before using it for these, in fact, I toast them by slicing and putting them in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes, but this is an optional step- it’s up to you! 

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4. Now load your bread with spread and olives, serve and enjoy! 

Broccoli Leek Bake- $6.34 recipe/ $0.42 serving

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This casserole is great as an entree, or as a holiday side dish. The pureed broccoli topping is rich and savory, and the tender carrots and potato at the bottom are just perfect. It started raining as I wheeled these groceries home from the store, but within minutes my apartment was filled with the incredible smell of roasting carrots and simmering leeks, which made it worth it.

Ingredients

3 small leeks ($1.29)

3 white potatoes ($0.68)

1 head broccoli ($0.75)

2 large carrots ($0.37)

4 cloves garlic ($0.12)

2 plum tomates ($0.48)

1 cup pecans ($1.25)

1.5 cups crushed tomatoes ($1.12)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil ($0.18)

olive oil ($0.10)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Wash and scallop potatoes and carrots. Scallop the carrots at an angle so that each slice is elongated. 

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3. Grease your casserole pan with olive oil. Layer in first the potato (overlapping each slice) and then the carrots. 

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4. Cover with crushed tomatoes and bake for 45 minutes. 

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5. Saute leeks and garlic in oil until tender, when they are done set them aside.

6. Chop broccoli florets and puree in a food processor along with pecans, fresh basil, and olive oil. 

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7. Layer leeks, and then broccoli pecan mixture on top of casserole. Bake for 10 minutes. 

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8. Slice your tomatoes and layer them on top of the broccoli mixture, press them into the mixture using moderate pressure. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and place back in oven for 15 minutes. 

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Enjoy!

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Butternut Stuffed Shells

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These creamy, warm pockets of sunshine are delicious and easy to make. The flavor profile is quintessentially autumnal, and the presentation is so easy and beautiful. This recipe makes two pans of shells, so it ends up being a frugal meal as well.

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash (mine was around 4 lb.)

1 box medium firm tofu

1 box large shell pasta

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

olive oil

1. First you need to halve and bake your squash. Preheat your oven to 400, slice your squash, and rub olive oil evenly into the flesh of the squash, sprinkle oregano and dried basil over the oil. Bake until the squash is tender enough to easily pierce with a fork. Remove from oven, turn oven heat down to 350. Let squash cool on the counter for at least 10 minutes. 

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2. While waiting for squash to cool, heat a pot of water and cook the shells. When the shells are done cooking, drain them, rinse with cold water, and leave them momentarily in the strainer. 

3. Scoop the squash out of its skin and put in a medium-large pot. Get as much of the tender squash into the pot as possible. 

4. Add tofu, fresh dill, and half of the basil to the mixture in the pot. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to fully puree and combine the ingredients. 

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5. Now you need to prepare your casserole pan, mine are fairly small so I used two. Spoon a thin layer of crushed tomatoes onto the surface of your pans. Then you can stuff the shells with your squash tofu ricotta, and set them in the pan. Top with sauce, and the remainder of the fresh basil. 

6. Put the casserole pans in the oven for about 20 minutes. You could top these off with nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, red pepper flakes, or even pesto. 

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Enjoy!

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Five Alarm Green Bean Bowl- $5.95 recipe/ $1.48 serving

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These beans pack a serious punch. If you can’t find the type of peppers I use, you could substitute with two fresh jalapenos and one yellow bell pepper. The cashews in this are my favorite because they offer soft buttery relief from the heat of the dish. I’ve been going green bean crazy lately because the produce store near my apartment has a ton of fresh beans from Long Island. They are so cheap, and so delicious.

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh green beans ($1.12)

2 orange and 1 red spicy long peppers (sometimes called hot Italian peppers) ($1.11)

4 cloves garlic ($0.20)

1/2 tsp. cumin ($0.03)

1/2 tsp. five spice powder ($0.05)

1 tbsp. soy sauce ($0.05)

1 cup cashews ($1.27)

1 cup Israeli couscous (uncooked) ($1.12)

1/4 cup olive oil ($1.00)

1/2 cup water

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1. Mince garlic, trim beans, and slice peppers. You should discard most of the pepper seeds or the spice will be overpowering. 

2. Add olive oil, garlic, cashews, cumin, and five spice powder to a large saute pan, wok, or dutch oven. Heat low and stir consistently for about 5 minutes. 

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3. Add in green beans, peppers, water, and soy sauce. Cover the pot, check and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes. While everything is cooking in the pot, make your couscous according to package instructions, when it is done set it aside. 

4. Uncover pot and crank the heat higher for about 3 minutes, stirring continuously. This part of the recipe serves to evaporate any excess water that may be in the bottom of the pot- the final product should not be soupy. Once this is done, lower the heat once again and cover the pot for an additional 20 minutes. 

5. Now mix the couscous in with the green bean mixture, and voila! 

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