Frugal Feasts recipes!

Whenever I blog about one of our Frugal Feasts, I’m asked to post the recipes for the various dishes, possibly because it’s hard to believe that a $5 per person budget can turn into a local, seasonal and mostly organic meal that’s also delicious, well-balanced, and satisfying. So since seeing (and doing) is believing, here, at long last, are recipes from our December and January Feasts, with more to come!  

In each case, what makes Frugal Feasts possible is two things: dishes that are low on the food chain and the experience of eating with a community.

By not putting meat at the center of our plates, our hosts have all found that they have ample funds to purchase organic grains, fruits, and vegetables. And despite what seems, initially, like a major budgetary constraint, the economies of scale that come from bringing together a group of Feasters has meant big enough total budgets to create gorgeous and delicious multi-course meals. [For more on the concept, see my original post here.]

The result?  Full bellies, lots of smiles, and important lessons learned. So without further ado, I’ll let the recipes speak for themselves:

December Feast hosted by Sasha Lyutse

This is one of my all-time favorite dinners to prepare; the fresh rosemary makes this simple soup so special and the four other items look so colorful and gorgeous on a plate together and the flavors balance perfectly. (Besides the soup recipe which serves 4-6 people, everything else will feed 3 people, so multiply ingredients accordingly). On December 16th, I served 13 people and the total cost came to $55.

Potato leek soup with fresh rosemary


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts washed and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves


Heat a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. Add the leeks, onion, and sea salt and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir well. Cook for 1 minute more.

Add the potatoes and vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot or ladle the soup into a blender, 1 cup at a time. Blend the soup with the fresh rosemary leaves until smooth and free of chunks. Serve hot.  

Roasted carrots


  • Whole organic carrots (~2-3 carrots per person), chopped into long thin pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay carrots along the bottom of a large, glass over pan, topping generously with olive oil and sea salt. Toss to make sure all carrots are well coated and place in oven, stirring once after ~15 minutes.

Cooking time: roughly 30 minutes. Carrots will be soft and lightly browned when ready.



1 cup of dry barley (or any dry grain of your choice; I also like to use wheat berries or short grain brown rice).  

3 cups of water (For wheat berries and brown rice, use 2 cups of water for every cup of grain).


In a medium-sized pot, bring grain to boil and then turn down heat.  Add lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally so grains don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking time: approximately 30-40 minutes.

Cumin & vinegar black beans


  • 1 small head of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks fresh, organic celery, chopped
  • Healthy splash of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 14 oz. can of black beans
  • ½ cup of white table vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of cumin (or more to taste)


Sautee chopped garlic, onion, and celery with olive oil and salt in a medium pot on low heat until onions become translucent. Add black beans (with all their liquid), white vinegar, and cumin and bring to simmer.

Allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently until consistency thickens.

Garlic collard greens


  • 1 large head of organic collard greens
  • 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Healthy splash of olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt (more or less to taste)


In a large saucepan, sautée chopped garlic and sea salt in olive oil until soft (make sure to use very low heat so the garlic doesn’t get burned).

Chop and wash collard green stems first (they are tougher and will need longer to cook), and add them to sautée with the garlic while you wash and cut the rest of the leaves.

Once stems have softened (approx. 5 minutes), add in handfuls of chopped collard leaves and cover with a lid. Continue stirring until all the collards are coated in garlic and olive oil and until leaves are softened.

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.


January Feast hosted by Jon Mark Ponder

These recipes are an approximation of the meal that was prepared for the Frugal Feast on January 13, 2012. The meal served 12 people and the total cost came to $52.

Dutch Oven-baked peasant bread


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch or two of sugar


Proof the yeast by mixing it with the warm water until dissolved. In a large bowl combine flour, salt and sugar. Stir in water until a dough ball forms (you can use do this by hand, no mixer needed). Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes then place it in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1-2 hours (until doubled in size).

Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times and then put it back in the bowl and let it rise again (for another hour).

Place some parchment paper in the bottom of your dutch oven. Place the dough ball in the center and using a sharp knife, make a few slices down its “belly”.

Cover with the lid and place in a preheated oven to 400 F. After 15 minutes, remove the lid but let it continue to bake for another 12-15 minutes. When it’s nice and brown take it out and let it cool. Slice and serve.

Mushroom and Garlic Crostini


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 sprig rosemary


Sautee garlic, mushrooms, and onions in olive oil until tender.  Add the rosemary and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency.  Spread on top of sliced peasant bread.

Tri-Colored Polenta


  • 1 package sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • 12 ounces spinach


Reconstitute the tomatoes by letting them soak in olive oil overnight, then lay them out on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. They will not completely cover the bottom, but they should be spaced evenly. 

Cook the polenta according to package directions, and reduce it down until it is very thick, and spread on top of the tomatoes. Sautée the spinach in a large pan with olive oil and garlic to taste and top off the polenta with the sautéed spinach.

Roasted Beet Salad


  • 4 medium beets, sliced
  • 12 ounces spinach
  • 8 ounces shelled walnuts
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (optional)


Roast sliced beets in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Place one or two slices on a salad plate, and top with spinach, walnuts and cheese.


Shake together four parts each red wine vinegar, olive oil, and honey.  Add one part dijon mustard, shake well, and dress salad.

Winter Squash Ravioli

Pasta ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup semolina flour
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon each of thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


In a large bowl, sift and combine semolina and whole wheat flour, herbs, and salt.  Make a crater in the center, and fill with water and olive oil.  Mix gently with a fork until the dough begins to form, careful not to break the crater walls.

Once the dough is sufficiently thick, begin to knead in the bowl to incorporate all of the flour. If the dough is too thick, add more water, if the dough is too thin, add more flour. Eventually transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for an additional ten minutes. Wrap the dough in a damp cloth and let it rest for ten minutes. 

After the dough has rested, cut off ¼” portions and run through a pasta machine until desired thickness is reached (generally a 3 or 4 setting). Lay the pasta sheets out on a flour-dusted counter-top until the filling is made.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (or other winter squash)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Peel and cube butternut squash, place in a baking dish.  Peel and smash garlic cloves, place in the same dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until squash is tender.  Let cool, and then puree in a blender or food processor.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon of filling onto the pasta sheet about 1 ½ inch apart from each other in a grid shape. Once the pasta sheet is full, use a pastry brush to spread a small amount of water in the spaces between the filling, and top with another sheet of pasta.

Cut out the ravioli using a sharp knife, and set aside on a flour-dusted cookie sheet until ready for cooking. Do not let the ravioli sit for longer than an hour.

Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, or until it floats. Drain, and serve immediately with olive oil, garlic, and sage, or your choice of sauce.

Enjoy and stay tuned for more recipes!