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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nourishing and Frugal: Side Dishes

Stephanie is hosting this week's nourishing frugal food carnival. This week's carnival is focused on side dishes, salads and desserts.

I'm not going to be nearly as prolific with this post as I was on the main dish one. I usually fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to side dishes and salads, but there are a couple which are great to eat, easy to make, nourishing and inexpensive all at once. So, I will share those with you. Also, I won't post a recipe, but cous cous, especially if you can get it in bulk, is really inexpensive, and tasty. I make it with garlic, olive oil, herbs and broth most of the time, but you can make it spicier, sweeter, with more vegetables, with dried fruit, however you like it.

I'm trying to think up some frugal and nourishing desserts, but honestly, I seem to be able to get either frugal or nourishing, but not both together. Now, I use real butter and good quality ingredients when we bake or make other desserts, and I can make great ice cream and sorbets, but they tend not to be all that nourishing, even using good chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, sweeteners and flours. I just figure, we eat a little of them, and they are made of real food, so it doesn't hurt us to have them once in a while. I think there is one, if you either live in a berry producing area, or can pick your own from your yard. Rich suggested a frugal and nourishing dessert: smoothies. A little frozen fruit, some yogurt or cream and whole milk, sweetener if you like it, maybe a banana. Whir it all up in the blender, and you have a lovely sweet, creamy treat that takes seconds to make, tastes wonderful, is actually pretty good for you and doesn't cost much money.

Bulgur Pilaf

3 tablespoons Good Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Oil (I use olive oil, you can use whatever oil you like) or Butter
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups bulgur
4 cups broth or water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toasted Pine Nuts (optional)

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the vegetables and cook until the celery starts to soften a little. Stir in the dry bulgur to coat with fat and slightly toast. Pour in the broth or water and season a little less than a teaspoon of salt and with pepper generously. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, let simmer for about 20 minutes, without removing the cover. Mix to redistribute the veggies and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in the toasted pine nuts if you have them, or not.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is one I make with rather loose quantities.

About 2 cups Cooked Black Beans (canned is fine), drained of as much liquid as possible
About 2 cups Corn Kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
A couple Sweet Peppers of various colors, finely diced
1/2 Red Onion, finely diced

Toss together and dress with cumin lime dressing.

I have no idea on the quantities.
I mix up olive oil with lots of lime juice, salt and pepper, garlic and cumin. Whisk it all up and dress the salad. If it tastes like it needs more of anything, I add it. If I don't have limes, I use lemon juice.

Raspberry Custard Pie

Blackcaps and raspberries are ripe right now, so I may have to make this soon.

Uncooked Pie Crust (I make a butter crust, but a good lard crust, or a half and half mix would be fine)
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice, you might be able to use date sugar or maple sugar, but I don't know how it would change the consistency)
1/3 cup Flour
1 cup Sour Cream
3 cups Raspberries

Line pie pan with crust. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix eggs and sugar until fully incorporated, mix in flour and sour cream. Scatter the berries over the bottom of the pie crust. Pour custard mixture into crust and cover raspberries. Bake for 40-50 minutes just until set. Chill for at least several hours before serving.

Decorated with berries and whipped cream to make a flag pie.

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Mmm, those all sound delicious. Especially the raspberry pie one, as I am in the process of freezing some fresh raspberries that I picked this afternoon.

I also find it a bit hard to be nourishing and frugal (together) with desserts. Because I use real butter, organic dried fruits, organic cream, raw honey, etc. they can get somewhat pricey. But, they are homemade and cheaper than buying them, so I figure that must make them a bit frugal, right? :) We do smoothies for dessert, a LOT!

Thanks for joining in!

Yum! Looks great! I love keeping couscous on hand for a fast and easy side and frequently mix it with beans (in place of rice) for a southwestern salad or with lentils and veggies for a light summer salad. I also love it for unexpected guests that require me to add another side to my planned dinner! Always works great!

Thank you for the bulgur pilaf recipe - we are experimenting with new grains (I made a quinoa pilaf this past week) and bulgur is the next one I'm considering . . . it looks great!

Thanks for sharing again! It has been so fun to get to read everyone's posts and get some wonderful ideas to add to my menu plans.
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