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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