Last night we had one of our favorite meals, Spicy Peanut Noodles with Seasonal Vegetables from Wildly Affordable Organic. I used red cabbage, bok choy, a huge carrot, and green (aka spring) onions.
I often make this dish when I teach because it illustrates so many key Cook for Good concepts. And it's so good that after one taste, almost everyone wants to make it themselves!
Wildly Good Tips from Spicy Peanut Noodles
- For the best flavor and best value (nutrients per dollar), cook with the seasons.
- For the most fun, best flavor, and a thriving community, buy local.
- Get more nutrition and flavor by cooking noodles and vegetable in broth and then save the broth to use in another recipe. Bonus: free broth!
- Save energy, money, time, and resources by cooking noodles and vegetables in the same pot at the same time. One fewer pot to heat and wash!
- Save time, reduce waste, reduce dish-washing, and be more accurate by using a scale to measure ingredients. Don't leave any peanut butter in a measuring cup to be washed down the drain! Watch my video on using a kitchen scale to see why it is an essential kitchen tool on nearly any budget.
- Wash fewer dishes by choosing your containers wisely. For example, mix your sauce in big container that you can serve in and store in. I love this giant measuring cup from Pampered Chef.
- Delight your inner monkey by serving fruit with savory dishes. This is a healthy spin on a Big Food tricks of creating irresistable food by mixing sugar, salt, and fat. Because we're using real food, though, you'll be satisfied after eating a right-sized bowl of whole-wheat noodles, vegetables, and fruit, with a sauce made from peanut butter, soy sauce, chipotle, garlic, and ginger. The recipe in the book uses sugar, but I quit adding that a few years ago as our sense of taste recovered from processed food.
[Scroll down for a bonus tip!]
Bonus tip #8: Feed your eyes by using a garnish and good presentation. I showed the image below when I gave a talk at SAS Institute, which has the four-star restaurant Herons on its campus. The image before this one showed the same bowl of Spicy Peanut Noodles without the chives and with the per-serving cost of $1.11. When I showed the slide below, with my imagined menu price of $35, everyone laughed and nodded. Herons delivers great value with local, organic ingredients and theatrical service in an elegant setting. You can do much of this yourself, even on a food-stamp budget. I'll give more thrifty presentation tips in a future post. For now, think carrot curls and cloth napkins.
What are your favorite cooking tips for cooking green and on a budget? How are you doing on the #SNAPcut Challenge? Please share in the comments below.