Frugal Feasts, from coast to coast!

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Last month, Frugal Feasts literally swept the nation, with groups of friends gathering simultaneously in New York City and Los Angeles to indulge in home-cooked, community dinners made from sustainable, low-on-the-food-chain ingredients, and which cost no more than $5 dollar per person.

Our NY hostess Nicole, whose maternal grandfather hails from Ecuador, cooked up a main dish called llapingachos (ya-pin-gachos). As Nicole explained, llapingachos—a kind of potato patty/tortilla—are “as Ecuadorian as you can get”, and are typically served on a bed of lettuce (no dressing) and topped with a savory peanut sauce and eggs.

The best way to describe this dish is with some visuals:

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The rest of Nicole’s menu was pan-Latin:

  • Chifles (plantain chips) with homemade salsa.
  • Llapingachos (potato tortillas) with peanut sauce and eggs
  • Menestra (Ecuadorian Red beans)

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Over on the west coast, our LA Feast hostess Karen was unfazed by the $5 per head budget, having worked as a holistic health coach and private chef. She fed 7 people for roughly $35 bucks, benefitting from the local, fresh, and organic bounty that comes with living in California. (Though my recent visit to the farmers market left me with the distinct impression that we’re about to catch up here in springtime NY!)


I was in LA for the week and so got to benefit from Karen’s delicious menu:

  • Simple three-green salad (Tuscan kale, spinach, and red-tip leaf lettuce)
  • Homemade chapattis
  • Chickpeas with caramelized fennel and citrus
  • Quinoa Pilaf with currants, fresh mint, and almonds

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And since not a day seems to go by without news of the ills of our industrialized meat production system—with “pink slime” in our ground beef, a cocktail of drugs in our chicken, and excessive meat consumption linked to a slew of negative health impacts—it’s a happy benefit of our Frugal Feasts to be gathering an archive of so many delicious, nutritious, and affordable meat-free dishes.

To try some of the dishes Feasters got to enjoy, check out these simple recipes.  And if you want to keep going, see here for recipes from our December and January Feasts.  



  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water or as needed


In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough that is elastic but not sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Divide into 10 parts, or less if you want bigger breads. Roll each piece into a ball and let rest for a few minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, and grease lightly (if you have a really good skillet, then you don’t even really need oil). On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the balls of dough until very thin like a tortilla (I actually used my fingers and it worked just as well). When the pan starts smoking, put a chapatti on it and cook until the underside has brown spots (about 30 seconds), then flip and cook on the other side. Continue with remaining dough.

Chickpeas with caramelized fennel and citrus (serves 2-4) 


  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 1 15-ounce can) cooked and drained chickpeas
  • 10 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Trim fennel and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges. (Reserve fronds for garnish).

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (Karen used a Dutch oven, which worked GREAT). Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 15 minutes (though the longer you cook for, the sweeter the fennel gets).

Add coriander, chickpeas, olives, lemon and orange juice and zest to pan and stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Spoon chickpeas and fennel over any grain (couscous and quinoa are favorites) and garnish with fennel fronds.

Quinoa Pilaf


  • 3 cups cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/4 cup currants


Measure out quinoa into a pot with double the amount of water (2 cups of water for ever cup of quinoa), bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer and cook through fully (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Whip up the dressing, mixing together the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and scallions in a large bowl and then fold the cooked quinoa in along with the currants and pine nuts.  Slivered almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts. This recipe is also delicious with cooked brown rice instead of quinoa.

Happy Feasting!