When a reader named Quinn suggested a recipe that used both lentils and meat, I started thinking about how veggie burgers and beef burgers each have their own strengths. Why not combine the two ideas to create a burger with meaty flavor but the lean protein and low cost of lentils? And so I offer you the half veggie burger. May it rest a little lighter in your belly.
Since Good and Cheap was published this recipe has become one I often see people make and share on social media and elsewhere. One of my favorite stories is of an 8 year old boy who learned how to make it at school, then came home and taught his sisters how to make them and then made dinner for his family in the process. Kids are so capable!
Casseroles are a great way to stretch your cooking-without a-recipe muscles. As one reader, Carolie, reminded me, they require little prep time, yield many meals, and the leftovers are easy to store. Casseroles also let you easily tailor an existing recipe to your own tastes.
So here’s my adaptation of one of Carolie’s favorite casseroles, itself a play on cabbage rolls, a traditional Eastern European dish that is delicious but labor intensive. This version is a good way to use up leftover rice or grains and lentils.
The cost of shrimp really varies, so save this one until you can find a deal—under about $8 per pound. I ended up having to remove this from the 2nd edition of Good and Cheap because the price variation was so extreme and I didn’t want to steer anyone wrong. But it’s a classic from a time when shrimp was the food of the poorer masses and the rich people had no idea what they were missing.
I didn’t grow up with grits myself, but somehow fell in love with them anyway. I have had many disappointing versions of this dish in NYC restaurants and after a particularly frustrating experience (like 2 tiny shrimp on a bed of undercooked and under-seasoned, practically gummy grits—a travesty) I decided to make it myself. Luckily, like so many of the great dishes, it is remarkably easy to make at home!
This is far from an authentic Southern version of this dish, but it is absolutely delicious. Southerners will demand you use white stone-ground corn for this to be true grits, and I won’t quibble, but feel free to use yellow if it doesn’t offend you.
These are a great meal to make when you have leftover roti and raita. They may seem like a lot of work at first, but if you get into the habit of cooking this way it is quick and very inexpensive. When I was a vegetarian I ate meals like this all the time. The filling comes together in minutes and the potatoes and greens could easily be substituted for anything you have in your crisper waiting to get eaten! Potatoes and greens are great because they are pretty neutral and take on the flavor of the spices well. Leftover Chana Masala is also great rolled up in a roti.