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Sasha Lyutse’s Blog

Frugal Feasts, from coast to coast!

Sasha Lyutse

Posted April 10, 2012 in Living Sustainably

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Last month, Frugal Feasts literally swept the nation, with groups of friends gathering simultaneously in New York City and Los Angeles to indulge in home-cooked, community dinners made from sustainable, low-on-the-food-chain ingredients, and which cost no more than $5 dollar per person.

Our NY hostess Nicole, whose maternal grandfather hails from Ecuador, cooked up a main dish called llapingachos (ya-pin-gachos). As Nicole explained, llapingachos—a kind of potato patty/tortilla—are “as Ecuadorian as you can get”, and are typically served on a bed of lettuce (no dressing) and topped with a savory peanut sauce and eggs.

The best way to describe this dish is with some visuals:

FFNY baking llapingoches.JPG

FFNY llapingoches cooked.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of Nicole’s menu was pan-Latin:

  • Chifles (plantain chips) with homemade salsa.
  • Llapingachos (potato tortillas) with peanut sauce and eggs
  • Menestra (Ecuadorian Red beans)

FFNY fried plantain and salsa2.JPGFFNY peanut sauce.JPGFFNY sampling beans.JPGFFNY - final product.JPG

Over on the west coast, our LA Feast hostess Karen was unfazed by the $5 per head budget, having worked as a holistic health coach and private chef. She fed 7 people for roughly $35 bucks, benefitting from the local, fresh, and organic bounty that comes with living in California. (Though my recent visit to the farmers market left me with the distinct impression that we’re about to catch up here in springtime NY!)

FF-LA K.JPG

I was in LA for the week and so got to benefit from Karen’s delicious menu:

  • Simple three-green salad (Tuscan kale, spinach, and red-tip leaf lettuce)
  • Homemade chapattis
  • Chickpeas with caramelized fennel and citrus
  • Quinoa Pilaf with currants, fresh mint, and almonds

FF LA - pilaf.JPGFF LA - full plate.JPG

SLKANA.jpg

And since not a day seems to go by without news of the ills of our industrialized meat production system—with “pink slime” in our ground beef, a cocktail of drugs in our chicken, and excessive meat consumption linked to a slew of negative health impacts—it’s a happy benefit of our Frugal Feasts to be gathering an archive of so many delicious, nutritious, and affordable meat-free dishes.

To try some of the dishes Feasters got to enjoy, check out these simple recipes.  And if you want to keep going, see here for recipes from our December and January Feasts.  

Chapattis

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water or as needed

Instructions:

In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough that is elastic but not sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Divide into 10 parts, or less if you want bigger breads. Roll each piece into a ball and let rest for a few minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, and grease lightly (if you have a really good skillet, then you don’t even really need oil). On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the balls of dough until very thin like a tortilla (I actually used my fingers and it worked just as well). When the pan starts smoking, put a chapatti on it and cook until the underside has brown spots (about 30 seconds), then flip and cook on the other side. Continue with remaining dough.

Chickpeas with caramelized fennel and citrus (serves 2-4) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 1 15-ounce can) cooked and drained chickpeas
  • 10 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Trim fennel and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges. (Reserve fronds for garnish).

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (Karen used a Dutch oven, which worked GREAT). Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 15 minutes (though the longer you cook for, the sweeter the fennel gets).

Add coriander, chickpeas, olives, lemon and orange juice and zest to pan and stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Spoon chickpeas and fennel over any grain (couscous and quinoa are favorites) and garnish with fennel fronds.

Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/4 cup currants

Instructions:

Measure out quinoa into a pot with double the amount of water (2 cups of water for ever cup of quinoa), bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer and cook through fully (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Whip up the dressing, mixing together the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and scallions in a large bowl and then fold the cooked quinoa in along with the currants and pine nuts.  Slivered almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts. This recipe is also delicious with cooked brown rice instead of quinoa.

Happy Feasting!

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Comments

Grace GillApr 11 2012 10:45 AM

Incredible concept - a great step in proving how easy and affordable quality, organic food actually is!
I can't wait to try this with my friends!
:)

Natalie GApr 11 2012 12:45 PM

It was a great night! I had no idea that such a wonderful dinner could be made with a $5/person budget. Fun fun fun!!

Sarah BraileyApr 11 2012 12:48 PM

Fantastic! I am now coveting a griddle so I can make chapattis at home! The LA feast looks delicious and I can personally attest that Nicole's Ecuadorian extravaganza was incredible. Such fun to gather with friends around delicious, healthy, guilt-free food! Can't wait for the next Frugal Feast.

Karen AppelquistApr 11 2012 02:37 PM

Thanks, Sasha, for bringing Frugal Feasts to LA. Sharing a delicious and inexpensive meal with good company... what could be better!? I'm planning to continue the tradition by hosting another dinner at my place soon. I'll keep you posted!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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