Anyone can make delicious recipes using costly, rarefied ingredients. But my greatest inspiration comes from transforming humble foods into enticing meals. Using a bit of ingenuity, I created these budget-friendly dishes, each with an unexpected “grace note” that makes the recipe feel celebratory despite the no-frills approach and simple preparation.
Simple chicken and rice get an Asian transformation with soy, scallions, rice wine, and healthy faux-fried rice, enhanced with the last of summer’s fresh corn and a profusion of fragrant basil. Chicken thighs are less expensive and more flavorful than breast meat, so they anchor the dish. A bowl of miso soup would make a delicious beginning to this late-summer meal.
Chic & Cheap Recipe | Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice
Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine is a great example of a simple recipe transcending the sum of its parts. Commonplace cauliflower is roasted into addictive nuggets, while a touch of garlic and sunny citrus tie the flavors together. Good Parmigiano-Reggiano is expensive, but just a couple ounces make a big flavor statement. Serve with a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes.
Cheap & Chic Recipe | Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 1/2 ounces pancetta or cured bacon, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved (about 1/2 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients; drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Toss. Arrange mixture on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and golden, stirring twice. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta to pan, and cook for 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Remove pancetta; set aside. Add remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons oil to drippings in pan. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid to drippings in pan; bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 30 seconds or until emulsified, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add rind, juice, thyme, and garlic to pan. Add pasta; toss. Remove from heat. Add cauliflower and pancetta; toss. Top with cheese. Serve immediately.
Rozanne Gold is a four-time James Beard award-winning chef and author of the 1-2-3 cookbook series and Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease.