Edible Rhody — Fall 2012
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Cooking Fresh on a Budget
Amy McCoy

Author of Poor Girl Gourmet and founder/blogger PoorGirlGourmet.com

As the weather transitions from steamy to crisp, and the fall harvest is in full swing, we have many opportunities to spend less while eating well:

• Staple vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and winter squashes are inexpensive in the fall, as are seasonal vegetables like the surprisingly sweet parsnip, spicy turnips and earthy beets.

• Many root vegetables and winter squash can be puréed and used in hearty soups: Think potato-leek, roasted Butternut or honey-roasted beet soup, to name a few.

• When cooking meat, use ground and so-called lesser cuts of meat, such as short ribs, spare ribs, legs and thighs for great flavor at a lower cost.

• Meatballs, chili and meat sauces stretch servings and can all be made with a variety of spice combinations. Don't be afraid to try your hand at Asian-style meatballs or Thanksgiving-inspired turkey-Butternut squash chili.

Estimated cost for 6 to 8 servings: $19.92; $3.32 per serving for 6; $2.49 per serving for 8.


If you aren't a fan of parsnips, feel free to substitute an additional pound of carrots in their place.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound parsnips, peeled, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound ground beef from your favorite farm
2 cups cooked black beans, drained
2 pounds sweet potatoes,
baked with skin on
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream, crème fraîche, or plain Greek yogurt (optional garnish)
1 green onion, white and light green parts only, sliced crosswise into rounds
(optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, parsnips, carrots and jalapeño pepper and sauté until the onions and pepper are soft and translucent and the parsnips and carrots are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, then sprinkle the cumin over the beef. Sauté until the beef is browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour in the beans and beef broth and stir well. Transfer the beef mixture to a baking dish.

While the vegetables and beef are browning, scoop the flesh of the roasted sweet potatoes into a medium mixing bowl and mash well. Pour in the milk, add the thyme and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over top of the beef mixture and bake until the beef mixture is bubbling around the edges, 55 to 60 minutes.

Cool slightly before serving. Top each serving with a tablespoon of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion. Serves 6 to 8.