An Affordable Mid East Feast

I survived a weekend closer to “broke” than ever before.  It involved a lot of watching Big Love and cooking at home.  Julia and Courtney came over for dinner on Friday after a pretty rough end to the week (all is well though!) and I made a Middle Eastern feast of falafel, hummus, kohlrabi fries, and a bell pepper, garlic scape, and radish salad.

Mid East Feast

Mid East Feast

Andy and I have a CSA share with Native Hill Farm that enables us to buy fresh, local produce all summer long while supporting a local farm and our local economy.  We pay for the share upfront, so it is a bit of an investment, and then we are able to go to the farmers’ market each week, pick out what we want from our farm’s stand, and the cost is applied to our account and deducted from what we paid.  As share members, we get a discount off the public price.  This is our second summer with a CSA share, and I love that buying whatever is currently being harvested makes me more adventurous with my cooking.  The kohlrabi for the fries, and the garlic scapes and radishes for the salad all came from our share.  The bell peppers are from my second favorite way to buy produce: on manager’s special at King Soops!  There is a “misshapen and undersized” produce corner at our neighborhood store, and almost every time I walk in, I can get 3 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers for 99 cents.  I have never found anything wrong with them and they never actually look misshapen or undersized.  To make the salad, I chopped up two bell peppers, about five medium sized radishes, and two garlic scapes.  Then I added some lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, dried cilantro (I didn’t have any fresh), and red wine vinegar (toss to distribute vinaigrette).  To make the kohlrabi fries, I peeled the kohlrabi and basically just cut and baked them like oven fries.  I used red pepper flavored olive oil and a dusting of chili powder to season.  They got a touch well done…

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi looks strange, tastes delicious.
Image from http://www.thehealthjournals.com

To make the hummus, I put a can of chickpeas (half-drained), lemon juice, tahini, and lemon flavored olive oil in the food processor and pureed until smooth.  The key to super smooth homemade hummus without adding a gallon of olive oil is to leave in about half the chickpea liquid from the can.  It ups the sodium a bit, but you’re not eating that much anyway.  Hummus is easy and affordable to make at home, especially if you take advantage of sales and coupons.  I always have chickpeas on hand, and I can generally buy a can of Kuner’s of Colorado chickpeas for 60-80 cents.  If I find it for 70 cents or less, I stock up.  I also always have a giant bottle of lemon juice in the fridge for cooking and putting in my water (more on that in a future post).  Tahini is pretty expensive, but I like to have it for hummus.  If it’s not on sale or I don’t have a coupon, I sometimes buy unsweetened/unsalted sunflower butter.  I never notice a difference in taste when mixed with other ingredients, and I can save up to 3 bucks.

The falafel is from a Fantastic World Food’s mix and is inexpensive, easy, and I bake it instead of frying to cut down on calories and fat.  Fill out the feedback form on their website for coupons.  The pitas were also crazy inexpensive.  I found a bunch of bags of whole wheat pitas on manager’s special for 76 cents a bag because they were nearing the sell by date.  Bread freezes well and defrosts quickly, so I bought all of them and threw them in the freezer and we get out what we need.

It all made a ton of food, so four of us ate and still had leftovers, and it cost very little.  Since I don’t have specific prices, I’m not sure what it all breaks down to, but it was a healthy, hearty meal for very little.

Do you have your own tips for buying produce or groceries on the cheap?  What’s your favorite “strange” veggie?

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3 thoughts on “An Affordable Mid East Feast

  1. I needed to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely loved every little bit of it. I’ve got
    you bookmarked to look at new things you post…

  2. Made hummus using Fage yogurt (Bobby Flay recipe) . Pretty good. It uses yogurt and sesame oil instead of tahini if you are like me and too cheap to buy it. I used Penzey lamb seasoning and some roasted red pepper tampanade along with it.

    • WHOA. That sounds delicious. I really like yogurt sauces, so I’ll track down the recipe and give it a try. Did you make the roasted red pepper tapenade or buy it? I need to make a Penzey’s order–all of their spices and seasonings are so good! Mom shared her Arizona Dreaming…awesome.

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