Tonight, I am combining two fantastic traditions: #MeatlessMonday and the 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative. #MeatlessMonday is my weekly commitment to show you a delicious way to eat meat-free once a week while the 2009 Nude & Eco-Cheap Cooking Initiative is where Shawna Coronado grows the vegetables and I turn them into a dinner for four for under $11.50.
#MeatlessMonday is all about getting more healthy fruits and vegetables into your life and what better way to do it than with produce fresh out of Shawna’s (or your) garden? So maybe for this #meatlessmonday (or next), I hope you’re having:
Fried Zucchini Napoleons, Cucumber Salad, and Mashed Beets
Wow, that’s like a complete meal with sides and everything. Look at me go!
Making the Zucchini Napoleons
As near as I can tell, a Napoleon is any type of stacked food. It comes from the fact Napoleon was a little on the short side and used to stand on … Okay, that’s a lie. According to Wikipedia, a Napoleon originally started off as a dessert where puff pastry was layered with sweetened creams. In France, they’re called a Mille-feuille. We call it a Napoleon because of our gratitude to Napoleon for the Louisiana Purchase … Okay, that’s a lie, too. We call it a Napoleon because it came from Naples and even though it was originally a dessert, the term “Napoleon” has been generalized to all types of stacked foods.
You will need:
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (free from Shawna’s garden)
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2-3 zucchini, cut lengthwise, 1/4 thick (free from Shawna’s garden)
- 1 cup flour (free because of the challenge rules)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (.10 cents)
- 2 teaspoons salt (free because of the challenge)
- 2 eggs (50 cents)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs ($2.50)
- 4 oz Mozzarella cheese ($2.50)
- Oil for frying
- 6-8 leaves of basil (free from Shawna’s garden)
Okay, the first thing to do is get the cherry tomatoes cooking. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper. Cook the tomatoes 30 minutes or until they are shriveled, sweet, and delicious.
While the tomatoes are baking, create a three stage dipping station. Put the flour in one bowl with the salt and garlic powder. Beat the eggs and put them in the second bowl. Finally, put the panko in the third. Dredge the zucchini in the flour using your dry hand, then dip it in the egg. With your wet hand, flip the zucchini and put it in the panko. Finally, cover both sides of the zucchini with panko using your dry hand. Let the zucchini rest for 5 minutes.
Fry in 350 degree oil until the zucchini is golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and let it rest.
When you take the tomatoes out of the oven, don’t turn it off. Instead, assemble the Napoleons by layering the zucchini, then the cheese, then a few tomatoes, then another layer of zucchini, cheese and tomoatoes. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts. This should be about 6 minutes.
If you have some left over marinara, warm it up and pour a tablespoon over the top of the Napoleons before serving. Use the basil for garnish.
Thanks to Matt Chatfield from the Kansas City Culinary Intitute. One of his dishes was my inspiration for this.
Okay, this is a real easy side that my grandmother makes. It’s so simple, but it’s really good!
You will need:
- 2 cups vinegar ($1.00)
- 4 tablespoons sugar (25 cents)
- 4 cucumbers (free from Shawna’s garden), peeled and diced
About two hours before serving, boil the vinegar. Add the suger and stir. Let the vinegar cool.
Mix all ingredients in a refrigerator-safe container and keep cool until serving.
Mashed beets are slightly sweet, filling, and a great side dish anytime you’d normally use mashed potoates. They’re just as easy to make as mashed potatoes, too.
You will need:
- 1 pound beets, washed well
- 4 tablespoons butter (75 cents)
- (optional) 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (varies)
Boil the beets in salted water until fork tender. This usually takes about 30-45 minutes. Mash with the butter and the optional balsamic.
That’s a total of $7.45 (plus balsamic) to feed four people a healthy, delicious, #meatlessmonday which is very, very cheap. I hope you see how economical having a home garden is. If you look at the prices, Shawna’s garden cut the price of this meal down dramatically!
Now, all that’s left is to enjoy!
Thanks Shawna Coronado and RobotSkirt for the image.