Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Gabriella shows you how to dress up even the simplest meal with an egg.
There is a very simple trick to make even the most frugal meal instantly seem fancy -- and you probably already have it in your fridge:
Add one little egg.
You already know that they're one of the cheapest sources of protein out there. But there's something about the aesthetic of a singular egg that just makes any dish a little more beautiful to look at. It's the culinary equivalent of red lipstick on days when you're feeling especially disheveled.
Then, get inspiration from these egg-topped dishes:
Emily eats this Arugula, Avocado, and Radish Salad, topped with a soft-boiled egg, for breakfast; but grab a piece of crusty bread and it makes for a great lunch or dinner too. Or turn to Martha for the perfect brunch dish: Warm Spinach Salad with Fried Egg and Potatoes.
If you're reading this, you've likely eaten leftover pizza for breakfast before. (It's okay. This is a judgement-free zone.) Next time, make it a little less sad with a fried egg. Cacio e Pepe Pizza with Roasted Radishes works especially well for this, as does a classic margherita. If you have a little more time on your hands, try out this breakfast pizza from The Kitchn.
Here's the quickest, cheapest way to host friends for dinner while keeping things light: pull together a grain salad and divide it amongst your guests' plates, and then top with your favorite type of egg. Round out the meal with a big green salad, good bread, a bottle of wine, and fresh fruit for dessert. The Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmsan is an old standby, as is this one with asparagus and pesto. Or try Lemony Quinoa with Leeks, Spinach, and a Fried Egg.
I'm a firm believer in the one-pot meal -- and shakshuka is one of the best. All you need is tomato sauce, eggs, and pita bread for dipping, and you're set for any meal. I grew up with a version from my Egyptian grandmother that relies on a generous amount of spinach, but there are endless variations, from the mild, yogurt-based recipes to the hot and spicy.
A longtime standby of dorm room chefs, quesadillas can easily be transformed into a grown-up dinner. Try Caroline's Sweet Potato and Cilantro Quesadilla with Fried Egg + Cumin Oil, this feta version, or these fresh Farmers Market Quesadillas. Just make sure to leave the tortillas whole before you stick that fried egg on top.
Tell us: what are you favorite foods to top with an egg?