Salad

A $10-Dollar Meal For When You're Convinced You Have "Nothing" to Make

February  9, 2017

You know that feeling when dinnertime is near, but you have no plan, and no time to trudge to the grocery store? Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, that is every night of my life lady—what’s your point?” Me too guys, me too. Let’s explore how to make a delicious meal when you thought you had nothing.

Today, we’re starting with chickpeas. If you want bang for your buck, buy them dried and boil them in large batches. Once cooked, they keep well in the fridge or freezer in their cooking liquid. Canned chickpeas also work, they just come at double or triple the cost (still an excellent value, just not uber-cheap). Use whichever form suits your values and lifestyle—one is not better than the other.

Okay what’s next? We need some flavor and color and oh, what do we need to use up before it goes off? Vegetables! If you were making this salad in the summer, you might grab cucumbers and tomatoes, but it’s February so we’ve got red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and a very wilted bunch of cilantro. Let’s shred them for maximum flavor distribution.

Photo by Alpha Smoot

My go-to dressing here is a play on peanut sauce made from pantry staples. The base is peanut butter and a squirt of chile paste thinned out with lime juice and water. With the shredded carrots and cilantro, this was heading in a Vietnamese direction, so I added a squirt of fish sauce for fun. If you want a more truly peanut-saucey vibe you can add a dash of brown sugar or honey.

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Play with the dressing: If you have a different kind of nut butter on hand, use that. You can use tahini instead of peanut butter, lemon instead of lime, and skip the chile sauce or add mustard or spices.

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Top Comment:
“I added about 1 tsp brown sugar (I used natural peanut butter), ramped down on the fish sauce (thinking that 1 tbsp may be overwhelming) but ramped up slightly on the hot sauce (I used harissa). That said, next time I will add the full amount of fish sauce. I may also add mint. But all in all, a delicious and handy recipe that is bound to become a new fave! Thank you :-)”
— haapi
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This salad, which will cost you between $7 and $10 to put together, contains multitudes. So start exploring your own taste and pantry. Please share any changes you make in the comments.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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20 Comments

star-anise March 13, 2017
Riffed on this with a middle eastern flavor profile (since that was what was in my pantry): tahini, lemon, garlic, and harissa in the dressing. Delicious!
 
haapi February 15, 2017
I just made this and it is DELICIOUS. I added about 1 tsp brown sugar (I used natural peanut butter), ramped down on the fish sauce (thinking that 1 tbsp may be overwhelming) but ramped up slightly on the hot sauce (I used harissa). That said, next time I will add the full amount of fish sauce. I may also add mint. But all in all, a delicious and handy recipe that is bound to become a new fave! Thank you :-)
 
Pescetarianpleasures.com February 14, 2017
I made this with tahini, and added some finely sliced celery to the mix. Yum!
 
Megan February 13, 2017
Had this for dinner tonight. Quick, healthy and delicious! Can't wait for the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
 
Gem February 12, 2017
Roasted the chickpeas and used broccoli slaw instead of carrots. Great make ahead work lunch! Next time I may mix in some quinoa.
 
Author Comment
Leanne B. February 12, 2017
Love it!
 
Tony M. February 12, 2017
$10 for 1 meal? Way too expensive for 1 person. Not everyone has $500 a month for food.
 
ellen February 12, 2017
It serves 4, so $2.50/meal
 
Author Comment
Leanne B. February 12, 2017
Hi Tony, yes what Ellen said. This is meant to feed 4 quite generously so it ends up quite inexpensive.
 
Lynn R. February 12, 2017
The recipe says it feeds four, not one. $2.50 isn't bad.
 
Jenni February 13, 2017
Have I lost my mind? How does $10 a day equate to $500 a month?
 
haapi February 15, 2017
"Serves 4"
 
ARay February 12, 2017
An idea for a variation... toss over soba noodles or rice stick noodles! Leanne, love your book! It's here on my shelf :)
 
Author Comment
Leanne B. February 12, 2017
Agreed I have done this with noodles lots of times, another great way to make it feed even more people. Also great with quinoa or rice.
 
pnadon February 12, 2017
This looks so good. I can't do peanuts in my meals. Not an allergy thing, I just don't like it. Do you have another dressing you could suggest? Similar but not peanut-y.<br />Thanks!
 
Sita R. February 12, 2017
How about cashew or almond butter. Or tahini. I might even try yellow miso.
 
Author Comment
Leanne B. February 12, 2017
Yes exactly! Tahini is fantastic (and I haven't tried it, but miso would probably be lovely too) and I really like it with cashew butte if you are okay with other nut butters.
 
Emily March 8, 2017
Try sunflower seed butter if you can't have nut butter. Tahini is fabulous!!!!!
 
Anne February 9, 2017
I am currently eating for dinner the last of a batch of Asian Hot and Cold Salad that I made earlier this week. The Hot component is ground chicken that I browned with 3/4 of a red onion, button mushrooms, soy sauce, and dashes of chili paste, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. The Cold component is kale, edamame, shredded carrots, diced red pepper, and the other 1/4 of the red onion, minced. I make each part of the salad on Sundays and then eat it for lunch and/or dinner throughout the week by heating portions of the chicken mixture and serving it on top of the salad with a soy/ginger vinaigrette and peanuts. Sometimes I will add (or substitute) shredded red cabbage, Napa cabbage, mint, and cilantro to the salad or make the meat "meatier" with quinoa or brown rice.
 
Author Comment
Leanne B. February 10, 2017
Mmmm sounds delicious! Your chicken mixture would be great here in place of the chickpeas too.