Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas

These super tasty Black Bean Quesadillas have been a runaway Budget Bytes hit since they were first posted in 2012. The spicy mix of cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, and onion makes and incredibly flavorful quesadilla that’s perfect for dipping in some cool sour cream or salsa. Make up an entire batch and freeze some for […]

The post Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

These super tasty Black Bean Quesadillas have been a runaway Budget Bytes hit since they were first posted in 2012. The spicy mix of cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, and onion makes and incredibly flavorful quesadilla that’s perfect for dipping in some cool sour cream or salsa. Make up an entire batch and freeze some for later!

Originally posted 2-19-2012, updated 1-12-2021.

A stack of black bean quesadillas on a tray with a dish of sour cream behind them

Why I’m In Love with These Quesadillas ❤️

I love these quesadillas for three reasons:

  • they’re bursting with flavor
  • incredibly EASY to make 
  • perfect for the freezer!

Students and other busy people take note: this recipe is perfect for you!

I called them “hearty” black bean quesadillas because they are surprisingly filling. I hastily ate two and then promptly felt like my belly was not just full, but full-full. This is one of those vegetarian recipes that meat-eaters won’t feel deprived when eating. Promise.

How to Freeze Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas:

Just fill and fold your quesadillas, but before you cook them, stack them with parchment paper in between each quesadilla. Place the stacked quesadillas in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or two) and pop them into the freezer. When you want to eat one, take a quesadilla out of the freezer and reheat it slowly over medium-low heat until the outside is crispy and the inside has melted. Using a lower heat gives the black bean quesadilla time to thaw and heat on the inside before the outside overcooks or burns.

Or, for a faster method, microwave from frozen for 30-60 seconds, or until the inside is thawed, then finish in a skillet to crisp up the outside and melt the cheese on the inside. 

What Kind of Taco Seasoning to Use

To make these black bean quesadillas super fast and easy, you can use a packet of store-bought taco seasoning. Or, if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you can use my homemade taco seasoning recipe

black bean quesadillas layered on a serving tray, sprinkled with cilantro

A stack of black bean quesadillas on a serving tray

Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas

These Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas are an easy vegetarian snack or light meal that are filling, flavorful, and freezer-friendly!
Total Cost $4.70 recipe / $0.47 per quesadilla
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 10 quesadillas
Calories 289.24kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz.can black beans $0.49
  • 1 cup frozen corn $0.20
  • 1/2 cup red onion $0.22
  • 1 clove garlic $0.08
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (about ½ cup chopped) $0.20
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese $1.69
  • 1 batch taco seasoning* $0.67
  • 10 flour tortillas (7-inch diameter) $2.00

Instructions

  • Drain the black beans and add them to a bowl along with the frozen corn (no need to thaw)
  • Finely dice the onion, mince the garlic, and roughly chop the cilantro.
  • Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, shredded cheddar, and taco seasoning to the bowl with the beans and corn. Stir until everything is evenly combined and coated in seasoning.
  • Place a half cup of the filling on one side of each tortilla and fold over. Cook the quesadillas in a skillet over medium heat on each side until brown and crispy and the cheesy filling has melted. Slice into triangles then serve.
  • To freeze the quesadillas, stack the filled and uncooked quesadillas with a piece of parchment paper between each quesadilla. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. To reheat either microwave (for a soft quesadilla) or cook in a skillet on low heat (make sure to use low heat so that the filling has time to thaw and melt before the outside burns).

Video

Notes

* I used my homemade taco seasoning here, but you can use a store-bought packet of taco seasoning if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1quesadilla | Calories: 289.24kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.29g | Protein: 12.19g | Fat: 11.58g | Sodium: 833.43mg | Fiber: 5.29g

Scroll down for the step by step photos

Overhead view of black bean quesadillas on a serving tray with a dish of sour cream

 

How to Make Black Bean Quesadillas – Step By Step Photos

Corn and black beans in a bowl
Add 1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw) and one 15oz. can of black beans (drained) to a large bowl.

Onion, garlic, and cilantro added to the bowl
Next, finely dice about ½ cup red onion, mince one clove of garlic, and roughly chop about ¼ bunch fresh cilantro. These ingredients are super flexible, so you don’t need to be exact on the measurements. 

Taco seasoning spices in a small wooden bowl

You can use either one packet of store-bought taco seasoning, or make your own using my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe. 

Cheddar and taco seasoning added to the bowl
Add the taco seasoning and 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese to the bowl. The cheese is the “glue” that holds the quesadillas together.

stirred quesadilla filling in the bowl with a fork
Stir the ingredients until everything is mixed. 

A tortilla being filled with the bean and cheese mixture
Now it’s time to stuff the quesadillas. You’ll need about 10 7-inch diameter flour tortillas for these quesadillas (the tortillas I had today were slightly larger so my quesadillas ended up being a bit thinner). Place a half cup of filling in each tortilla and fold it over. You can either cook them or freeze them at this point (see instructions for freezing in the post above the recipe).

quesadillas cooking in a skillet
To cook the black bean quesadillas, place the quesadilla in a skillet over medium heat and cook on both sides until golden brown, crispy, and the filling has melted. I don’t use any sort of oil or butter, but you certainly can if you want more of a fried finish to the quesadillas.

cut quesadillas on a cutting board
Slice then serve! You can slice each quesadilla into two or three pieces. I find that if I cut starting on the outside edge going in toward the center fold, I get less of the filling oozing out. A pizza cutter also works great!

Overhead view of cut black bean quesadillas on a baking sheet

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Perfect Oven Roasted Broccoli

If you’re not a fan of broccoli, it might just be because you haven’t tried it roasted yet. Roasted broccoli is my go-to side dish for any dinner because it’s A) easy and B) insanely delicious.

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If you’re not a fan of broccoli, it might just be because you haven’t tried it roasted yet. Roasted broccoli is my go-to side dish for any dinner because it’s A) easy and B) insanely delicious. Like, so delicious that I could eat an entire pound by myself. And while I’ve had a tutorial about how to roast frozen broccoli for years, I realized, after getting a million questions about how I made the broccoli in my Comeback Sauce recipe photos, that I did not have a tutorial about how to roast fresh broccoli. The techniques are similar, but the results are very different. So let’s go!

roasted broccoli with comeback sauce in a red plastic basket with paper liner

Pictured with Comeback Sauce.

Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?

Yes, you can roast frozen broccoli, although it does turn out differently. For full instructions, please see my recipe for Oven Roasted Frozen Broccoli.

How to Get Crispy Roasted Broccoli

One of my favorite parts about oven roasted broccoli are the crispy edges. Here are some tips for getting the best crispy browned edges on your broccoli:

  • Make sure the broccoli is well coated in oil.
  • Space the broccoli out on the baking sheet. It should not be crowded, which can trap steam and prevent browning and crisping.
  • Avoid very large florets. The larger the florets the longer they will take to roast, and the less surface area is available for browning.
  • Roast directly on your sheet pan (no parchment lining) for even more browning.

How to Season Roasted Broccoli

The second thing I love about roasted broccoli are all the different ways you can season it. The sky is the limit here, which means I can eat it every day without ever feeling like I’m eating the same thing! Here are some of my favorite seasonings to add to roasted broccoli:

  • Steak seasoning
  • Curry powder
  • Seasoning salt (like Lawry’s)
  • Everything bagel seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice and zest (sprinkle on after roasting)
  • Simple salt & pepper! (especially when planning to dip the broccoli in a flavorful sauce)
a piece of oven roasted broccoli being dipped into a cup of comeback sauce
Overhead view of a basket full of oven roasted broccoli with dipping sauce

Perfect Oven Roasted Broccoli

Make perfectly crispy and delicious oven roasted broccoli in just a few easy steps. This is the perfect easy side dish for any dinner.
Total Cost $3.34 recipe / $0.84 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 138.5kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. broccoli $2.98
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1/4 tsp salt* $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper* $0.02

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash and chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets.
  • Spread the florets out over a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you can skip the parchment if you want extra browning). Drizzle the olive oil over top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss the broccoli until it is fully and evenly coated in oil.
  • Roast the broccoli for 20-25 minutes, or until it has achieved the level of browning you desire, stirring once after about 15 mintues of roasting. Total roasting time may vary depending on the size of your florets and the type of baking sheet used (darker surfaces brown faster).

Notes

*This is a basic roasted broccoli recipe seasoned simply with salt and pepper. For other seasoning ideas, check the list above the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 138.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.95g | Protein: 6.35g | Fat: 7.83g | Sodium: 281.9mg | Fiber: 5.85g
Oven roasted broccoli close up on the baking sheet

How to Make Oven Roasted Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash and chop 2 lbs. broccoli into bite-sized florets.

Seasoned broccoli florets on a parchment lined baking sheet

Spread the florets out onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment (or no parchment for extra browning). Drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over the broccoli, then add ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Toss the broccoli until it is evenly coated in oil.

roasted broccoli on the sheet pan

Roast the broccoli in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it has achieved your desired level of browning, stirring once after about 15 minutes. Roasting time will vary based on the size of the broccoli florets and the type of sheet pan used.

Overhead view of a basket full of oven roasted broccoli with dipping sauce

Enjoy your perfect oven roasted broccoli as a side with dinner or just as a snack with some good sauce for dipping! I suggest Comeback Sauce, Honey Mustard Sauce, or Ranch Dressing.

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Tortilla Baked Eggs

You guys know how I love using leftover odds and ends in my fridge to make delicious meals on the fly, right? Well these tasty little eggs baked in a tortilla shell are my newest obsession. You can toss just about any meat, vegetable, or cheese into these Tortilla Baked Eggs to come up with your own tasty creation.

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You guys know how I love using leftover odds and ends in my fridge to make delicious meals on the fly, right? Well these tasty little eggs baked in a tortilla shell are my newest obsession. You can toss just about any meat, vegetable, or cheese into these Tortilla Baked Eggs to come up with your own tasty creation. Sounds like a fun Saturday morning project to me!

Overhead view of tortilla baked eggs on a white plate with a napkin on the side

What Kind of Baking Dish To Use

You can use any type of round, oven-safe dish that is about 1 to 2-inches deep. It should also have straight, vertical sides. Round cake pans or pie plates are a great option. As far as what size to use, you’ll want to use a dish that is one to two inches smaller in diameter than your tortilla, so the tortilla can be folded up on the sides to hold in the eggs and fillings.

What Size Tortilla Should I Use?

My tortillas were 8-inches in diameter, which was perfect for my 7-inch diameter dish. If you are using an eight or nine-inch diameter cake pan, you’ll probably want a 10-inch diameter tortilla. If you have a larger tortilla, you may want to add 1-2 more eggs than I used below.

Topping Ideas

These tortilla baked eggs are SO flexible and you can toss just about anything that you have leftover in your fridge into them, kind of like an omelette or frittata! Here are some combination ideas:

  • Roasted red peppers, feta, red onion
  • Chopped broccoli, cheddar
  • Ham, cheddar, bell pepper
  • Sun dried tomato, feta, spinach
  • Mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese
Two slices of tortilla baked eggs on a plate with a fork
Whole tortilla baked eggs on a plate with fork on the side

Tortilla Baked Eggs

Tortilla Baked Eggs are a fun and flexible way to use leftover ingredients from the week in a delicious homemade breakfast.
Total Cost $1.22 recipe / $0.61 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 320.55kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil $0.18
  • 1 8" flour tortilla $0.14
  • 1 cup fresh spinach $0.16
  • 4 large eggs $0.23
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes $0.37
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar $0.21
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) $0.01

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush the inside of a round, 7-inch diameter oven safe dish* with olive oil. Press the tortilla down into the dish so that the edges of the tortilla are folded up the sides of the dish (see step by step photos below).
  • Roughly chop the spinach then add it to the bottom of the tortilla. Crack the four eggs into the tortilla on top of the spinach. Add a pinch of salt and pepper on top of the eggs.
  • Slice the grap tomatoes in half, then sprinkle them over the eggs. Finally, top with shredded cheese.
  • Bake the egg filled tortilla in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still jammy. You can shake the dish to see if the whites still jiggle or if they are set. Baking time may vary depending on the size of your tortilla and number of eggs used.
  • Remove the tortilla baked eggs from the oven and slide them out of the dish. Slice into four pieces, then serve!

Notes

*You can use any size oven-safe round dish, but make sure you use a tortilla of a slightly larger size than the dish. For instance, you can use an 8-inch pie tin, but you’ll want to use a tortilla that is approximately 9-inches in diameter. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of your dish and tortilla. See step 4 above for a tip on how to tell it’s finished baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5recipe | Calories: 320.55kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.55g | Protein: 18.6g | Fat: 20.35g | Sodium: 618.95mg | Fiber: 2.45g

Love baked eggs? Try my Creamed Spinach Baked Eggs, Eggs Florentine Breakfast Pizza, or Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Frittata.

Side view of a slice of tortilla baked eggs with a bite taken out

How to Make Tortilla Baked Eggs – Step by Step Photos

Oil being brushed inside a round dish

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush about 1/2 Tbsp olive oil on the inside of a round, 7-inch diameter oven safe dish.

Tortilla pressed into the round dish

Press an 8-inch flour tortilla down into the dish so that the edges of the tortilla are folded up the sides of the dish.

chopped spinach placed inside the tortilla

Roughly chop one cup fresh spinach and place it inside the tortilla.

Eggs added on top of the spinach in the tortilla

Crack four large eggs onto the spinach and season with a small pinch of salt and pepper.

Eggs topped with tomatoes and cheese

Top with a handful of grape tomatoes (sliced in half) and a little shredded cheddar (about ¼ cup).

Finished Tortilla Baked Eggs in the dish

Bake the egg-filled tortilla in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still jammy. You can shake the dish to see if the whites still jiggle or if they are set. Baking time may vary depending on the size of your tortilla and the number of eggs used. I also finished off my eggs with a pinch of crushed red pepper, but that’s optional!

Whole tortilla baked eggs on a plate with fork on the side

Slide the tortilla out of the dish and onto a plate or cutting board. Slice into four pieces, then serve!

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Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas

Breakfast quesadillas are one of my absolute favorite foods. Not just a favorite breakfast food, but a favorite any time food. Normally I stick to a quick fried egg and a slice of cheese, but this weekend I made these Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas, which are a step above my busy weekday version.

The post Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Breakfast quesadillas are one of my absolute favorite foods. Not just a favorite breakfast food, but a favorite any time food. Normally I stick to a quick fried egg and a slice of cheese, but this weekend I made these Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas, which are a step above my busy weekday version. And the best part? I froze the other five quesadillas so I can reheat them anytime (like I did for lunch today!)

Stacked sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas held close to the camera

What’s in a Breakfast Quesadilla?

Okay, so I kept these breakfast quesadillas super simple, but I’ve got some ideas for “spicing” them up below, if you’re interested. The only thing you need is sausage, eggs, cheese, tortillas, salt, and pepper. It’s just that easy! Since these quesadillas are super simple, they do have a more mild flavor (this one is for all my friends with sensitive tongues). If you want some extra flavor, read on.

What Else Can I Add?

Quesadillas are great for using up leftovers in your fridge. So whether you want to add more flavor or you just want to use up some things that are floating around in your fridge, here are some good picks for these sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas:

  • Sliced green onions
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Everything bagel seasoning
  • Sriracha or chili garlic sauce
  • Diced bell pepper (sauté with the browned sausage until tender)
  • Crumbled feta
  • Fresh spinach

How to Serve Breakfast Quesadillas

If you’re in a hurry, or just lazy like me, you can eat these breakfast quesadillas just as they are. They make a great hand-held meal for when you’re on the go. If you are sitting down to your meal, you can serve them with a side of salsa and sour cream for dipping!

How to Freeze and Reheat

As I mentioned in the intro, I froze most of my quesadillas so I could reheat them later. To freeze the quesadillas, fill and fold the tortillas like you are about to toast them in the skillet, but instead stack them on a plate or baking sheet with parchment between each one. Transfer that to the freezer and freeze for about an hour or until they’re frozen solid. Once solid, transfer to an air-tight freezer bag for long term storage. They’ll probably be good for about three months.

To reheat, place one of the frozen quesadillas in a skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Cook on each side until golden brown and crispy. It’s VERY important not to have the heat too high, or else the tortilla will burn before the filling has time to thaw and heat through. So go slow.

What is Country Sausage?

I used country sausage for these breakfast quesadillas, which is a loose (not in links) raw sausage that is fairly mild in flavor (there are hot varieties). It is sometimes also called breakfast sausage, although it is not sweet like a maple breakfast sausage. I used this brand, but there are many recipes for country sausage online if you want to make your own using ground pork.

Sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas on a plate with a dipping cup full of salsa
Stacked sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas held close to the camera

Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas

Sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas are an easy and filling breakfast option that is also freezer-friendly, so you can stock up for later!
Total Cost $5.02 recipe / $0.34 per quesadilla
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 quesadillas
Calories 325.15kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. country sausage $1.45
  • 6 large eggs $1.40
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 6 oz. cheddar $1.27
  • 6 medium flour tortillas $0.86

Instructions

  • Add the sausage to a skillet and cook over medium heat until the sausage is browned and crispy on the edges. When the sausage is cooked, remove it from the skillet using a slotted spoon so they grease stays behind in the skillet.
  • While the sausage is cooking, crack six eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper (about ¼ tsp each). Whisk the eggs. Shred the cheddar cheese.
  • Add the whisked eggs to the skillet with the sausage grease, and continue to cook them over medium heat, gently folding them as the eggs set. Cook until the eggs are set, but still moist. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • With the skillet off the heat, add the cooked sausage and shredded cheddar to the skillet with the scrambled eggs. Fold the ingredients together until they are evenly combined.
  • Place about ½ cup of the sausage, egg, and cheese mixture into each tortilla, spreading it out to cover half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla closed. You can either toast or freeze the quesadillas at this point (see freezing instructions above the recipe).
  • To cook the quesadillas, add them back to the skillet (I like to do this in a dry skillet) and cook over medium heat on each side until the tortilla is brown and crispy and the cheese on the inside is melted. Slice the quesadilla into three pieces, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1quesadilla | Calories: 325.15kcal | Carbohydrates: 23.37g | Protein: 16.5g | Fat: 17.55g | Sodium: 1273.23mg | Fiber: 2.33g
A stack of sausage and egg breakfast quesadillas on a plate with a dish of salsa

How to Make Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas – Step by Step Photos

Browned sausage in a skillet

Brown 8oz. country sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Cook it until the edges are brown and crispy, not just until it’s no longer pink. When the sausage is cooked, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon, so the grease stays in the skillet.

Eggs in a bowl with salt, pepper, and a whisk

While the sausage is cooking, crack six eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper (about ¼ tsp each). Whisk the eggs.

Shredded cheddar on a cutting board

Shred six ounces of cheddar cheese.

Scrambled eggs in the skillet

Add the whisked eggs to the skillet with the remaining sausage grease. Continue to cook over medium, gently folding the eggs as they set. Cook the eggs until they are set, but still moist. Don’t overcook the eggs. ;)

Sausage and cheese added to the skillet with the eggs

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked sausage and shredded cheese.

finished breakfast quesadilla filling in the skillet

Fold the ingredients together until they’re evenly combined.

Tortillas being filled

Add about ½ cup of the sausage, egg, cheese mixture to each tortilla, spreading it out over half of the tortilla, then fold it closed. Once filled and folded, they can either be cooked or frozen.

Quesadillas toasted in the skillet

To cook the quesadillas, add them back to the skillet (I don’t add any oil or butter, but you can if you prefer). Cook over medium on each side, or until the tortilla is brown and crispy and the cheese is melted on the inside.

quesadilla cut into three pieces

Slice each quesadilla into three pieces, then serve!

stacked quesadillas for freezing

To freeze the quesadillas, stack them on a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper between each layer. Freeze for about an hour or until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat from frozen, simply add to a skillet and heat over medium-low until they are brown and crispy on the outside and heated through.

A stack of breakfast quesadillas on a plate with salsa in the background

The post Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadillas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Quick Tofu Stir Fry

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! This super simple tofu stir fry is a riff off of my favorite Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. It’s super fast, super easy, and endlessly customizable. Keep reading to see all the possibilities for making this tofu stir fry your own!

The post Quick Tofu Stir Fry appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! This super simple tofu stir fry is a riff off of my favorite Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. It’s super fast, easy, filling, inexpensive, and endlessly customizable. Keep reading to see all the possibilities for making this tofu stir fry your own!

Quick Tofu Stir Fry in a skillet with sriracha and a bowl of peanuts on the side

Use any Stir Fry Sauce

This recipe is so flexible that you can literally use any type of stir fry sauce, so go with whatever you like best. The stir fry sauce for the Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry, which this recipe is based upon, is a spicy and super simple 4-ingredient sauce, but I switched it up this time and used a non-spicy sauce, then just added sriracha on top for heat as needed. Feel free to use that original sauce, something a little less sweet like the sauce used in my Ground Turkey Stir Fry, a richer oyster based sauce like in my Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli, or even something a little sweeter like a bottled sweet chili sauce. It’s so flexible!

Change Up the Vegetables

I love using bagged coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) in stir fry because there’s no prep involved, it’s filling, and it’s still super inexpensive. I used about ½ of a 1 lb. bag of mix here, but you could probably even add more if you want it more vegetable heavy. You can shred your own cabbage and carrots (you’ll want about 5 cups), or even use a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables in place of or in addition to the shredded cabbage.

If using frozen vegetables, I suggest adding them to the skillet before the cabbage because they’ll need a little longer to cook. If you are increasing the amount of vegetables, you may wan to also increase the sauce and add half to the tofu and half after adding the vegetables.

Substitute the Peanuts

If you don’t like or can’t have peanuts, don’t worry! They’re totally optional. I love the crunchy texture they add to the dish, but you can either leave them out, substitute with another nut (maybe cashews or almonds), or add a few sesame seeds to the stir fry at the end. It’s up to you!

How are the Leftovers?

I’m going to call the leftovers of this one “subjective.” Haha! Dishes like this will seep water as they sit in the refrigerator and the cabbage (or other vegetables) will soften further, but that wouldn’t stop me from reheating and enjoying the leftovers. If you’re a bit more sensitive to texture and flavor changes, you may not enjoy the leftovers.

front view of three bowls full of quick tofu stir fry
three bowls of quick tofu stir fry

Quick Tofu Stir Fry

This super fast and inexpensive tofu stir fry is super filling, easy enough for busy weeknights, and endlessly customizable!
Total Cost $3.82 recipe / $0.96 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 272.43kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce $0.18
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp water $0.00
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.10
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger $0.10

Stir Fry

  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 14 oz. extra firm tofu $1.79
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts $0.12
  • ½ lb. coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) $0.90

Toppings

  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (optional) $0.11

Instructions

  • Prepare the stir fry sauce first. In a bowl combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, toasted sesame oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Set the sauce aside.
  • Slice the green onion and chop the peanuts.
  • Take the tofu out of the package, draining away any liquid from the package (no need to press the tofu as the water will be cooked out). Crumble the tofu into a bowl.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the crumbled tofu and stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until there is no longer any water pooling on the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the prepared stir fry sauce to the skillet and continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more. Finally, add the slaw mix and chopped peanuts and stir fry for 1-2 minutes more, or just until the cabbage begins to wilt. Top with sliced green onions and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 272.43kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.98g | Protein: 14.53g | Fat: 17.73g | Sodium: 815.75mg | Fiber: 3.33g
close up of quick tofu stir fry in the skillet

How to Make Quick Tofu Stir Fry – Step by Step Photos

stir fry sauce in a white bowl with a fork

Make the stir fry sauce first. In a bowl, combine 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp water, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and about 1 tsp grated fresh ginger. Set the sauce aside.

chopped peanuts and sliced green onion

Chop ¼ cup peanuts and slice two green onions.

tofu and coleslaw mix

These are the two main ingredients in this super simple stir fry–tofu and shredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix). You can switch up the vegetables or add more if you’d like. See the notes above the recipe for ideas.

crumbled tofu in a bowl

Take the tofu out of the package, draining away any liquid (there is no need to press the tofu for this recipe because the excess water will be cooked out). Crumble the tofu into a bowl.

sauce being added to cooked tofu in the skillet

Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil (your favorite kind) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil and skillet are hot, add the crumbled tofu and stir fry until there is no longer any liquid pooling in the skillet. Pour the prepared sauce over top and continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes more.

shredded cabbage and carrots added to the skillet

Finally, add the shredded cabbage and carrots, and the chopped peanuts to the skillet. I used half the bag, or about ½ lb., but you could probably add more if you’d like. Continue to cook and stir for only 1-2 minutes more, or just until the cabbage begins to wilt.

Sriracha being drizzled over the skillet

Top the stir fry with sliced green onions and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve!

three bowls of quick tofu stir fry

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Tomato Herb Soup

I’m constantly looking for new ways to use my favorite (not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce in recipes because it’s just SO good. So, the other day I was thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if I can just make it into a really tasty soup.” The answer is yes. Yes, that deliciously tangy, herb-infused sauce is the […]

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I’m constantly looking for new ways to use my favorite (not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce in recipes because it’s just SO good. So, the other day I was thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if I can just make it into a really tasty soup.” The answer is yes. Yes, that deliciously tangy, herb-infused sauce is the great beginning to a super fast, easy, and delicious homemade Tomato Herb Soup.

Originally published 9-16-2013, updated 10-12-2020.

A mug of tomato herb soup on a plate with a grilled cheese

What Does Tomato Herb Soup Taste Like?

This tomato herb soup is not your everyday canned condensed tomato soup. It’s not sugary sweet, it’s fairly thick, very rich, and has tons of herby flavor. The magic comes from the melange of dried herbs and the quick act of caramelizing the tomato paste to create a rich sweetness. So yum and it gets better as it refrigerates. Oh, did I mention that it just happens to be VEGAN?

What to Serve with Tomato Herb Soup

A classic grilled cheese sandwich is never a bad idea, but you could also do something like Homemade Garlic Bread, or drop a few Homemade Croutons on top, and make a super simple salad to go on the side.

Is it Freezer Friendly?

Yes, this soup holds up really well to freezing, so feel free to stash a couple servings in there for later! I try to use up my frozen foods within three months for best quality, but you may get a longer life out of it. In the refrigerator, the soup should stay good for about 4-5 days.

Overhead view of a mug full of tomato soup with a black spoon in the center
 
Tomato herb soup in a mug on a plate with grilled cheese

Tomato Herb Soup

Use basic pantry staples to create this quick and easy Tomato Herb Soup. It's thick, rich, flavorful, and perfect for grilled cheese dipping!
Total Cost $2.62 recipe / $0.52 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 5 1.5 cups each
Calories 168.16kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.64
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary $0.03
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.03
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste $0.39
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes $0.79
  • 3 cups vegetable broth $0.39

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and add it to a sauce pot along with the olive oil, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and freshly cracked pepper. Turn the heat on to medium-low and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic has softened.
  • Add the tomato paste and brown sugar. Stir until everything is mixed (the oil may stay partially separated). Cook the mixture while stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until the tomato paste takes on a darker, almost burgundy hue.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. Turn the heat up to medium and heat through, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5Cups | Calories: 168.16kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.6g | Protein: 2.86g | Fat: 11.44g | Sodium: 731.8mg | Fiber: 4.68g

How to Make Tomato Herb Soup – Step by Step Photos

Oil garlic and herbs in a soup pot

Start by adding ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, and some freshly cracked black pepper to a sauce pot. Turn the heat on to medium-low and sauté the herbs in the oil for about two minutes, or until the garlic has softened.

Tomato paste and brown sugar added to the pot

Add 6 oz. tomato paste and 1 Tbsp brown sugar to the pot. Stir until everything is pretty well combined (the oil may never fully mix in). Continue to stir and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the tomato paste takes on a darker burgundy hue (see photo below).

crushed tomatoes being poured into the pot

Add one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes are smaller bits than diced tomatoes, but not quite as smooth as tomato sauce. It’s somewhere in between, and doesn’t have any seasoning added.

Vegetable broth being poured into the pot

Also add 3 cups of vegetable broth, which will thin the soup out, add depth of flavor, and just the right amount of salt. I use this Better Than Bouillon to quickly mix up the exact amount of broth that I need.

finished tomato herb soup being lifted with a ladle

Then just whisk everything together and heat through! The end! The flavors are even better the next day.

Tomato herb soup in a mug on a plate with grilled cheese

OMG – grilled cheese + tomato soup FTW!

Now give yourself a high-five for making such a delicious soup in under 30 minutes.

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Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! I’m always looking for ways to use up the odds and ends of my fresh spinach, and  Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta is one of my go-to methods for making sure no spinach goes to waste. It’s fast (like, fast enough to make on a weekday), […]

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Here’s a little quickie for you this weekend! I’m always looking for ways to use up the odds and ends of my fresh spinach, and  Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta is one of my go-to methods for making sure no spinach goes to waste. It’s fast (like, fast enough to make on a weekday), super delish, and makes me feel pampered. Plus, I’ll share several different ways you can serve or customize these eggs so you’ll have plenty of options!

Two plates with scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

How to Serve Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

You might be thinking, “who doesn’t know how to serve scrambled eggs??” Well, in addition to serving scrambled eggs on a plate with toast, like in the photos in this post, there are actually some other fun things that you can do with these eggs once they’re made. My favorite? Make them into a quesadilla! Pile the scrambled eggs with spinach and feta onto half of a tortilla, top with a little more shredded mozzarella, fold it closed, then toast it in a skillet. BOOM. So delish.

You can also stuff the scrambled eggs into a breakfast wrap with some bacon, or into a pita for a really easy, handheld, on-the-go breakfast. Or how about a bagelwich? Yes please! And lastly, you can use these scrambled eggs as a topper for a breakfast bowl meal. 

What Else Can I Add?

Spinach and feta is really just a starting point. I like to add whatever vegetables I have laying around in the fridge to my scrambled eggs. Diced bell pepper is awesome, as are tomatoes. Got leftover green onions? Slice ’em up and toss them in there! Have half of a leftover avocado? Use it to top your eggs. The sky really is the limit here.

Green Eggs and Ham

Here’s your chance to fulfill your childhood Dr. Seuss dreams, friends. The juices from the fresh spinach do turn the eggs a little green, especially if they sit on your plate for a little while before you get a chance to eat. But I absolutely love the idea of adding ham to these scrambled eggs to make it a true “green eggs and ham” breakfast. How fun! I would dice the ham and sauté it in the skillet first, then add the spinach and continue on as directed below.

Side view of a plate with scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and oranges

 
A plate full of scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

These tasty scrambled eggs with spinach and feta are fast and easy enough to prepare on a weekday, and are perfect for using up spinach!
Total Cost $2.31 recipe / $1.16 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 250.75kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. fresh spinach $0.65
  • 4 large eggs $0.92
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.13
  • 1 oz. feta $0.55
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 pinch salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Roughly chop the spinach into smaller pieces (about 1-inch pieces). This step is optional and can be skipped to make breakfast faster, but I prefer the smaller pieces that don't get stringy like whole spinach leaves can tend to be.
  • Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk (I prefer ribbons of white and yellow, but you can whisk until even if preferred).
  • Add the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped spinach and sauté until the spinach has softened (2-3 minutes)
  • Push the sautéed spinach to the outside edges of the skillet and pour the eggs into the center. Gently fold the eggs as the bottom layer solidifies, until the eggs are about 75% solid. Fold the eggs into the sautéed spinach, then turn off the heat. The residual heat in the pan will finish cooking the eggs without overcooking or drying them out.
  • Top the eggs with the crumbled feta, a little freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 250.75kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.6g | Protein: 16.2g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 589.3mg | Fiber: 1.3g

Scrambled eggs with spinach and feta on a plate with toast, half piled onto a slice of toast

How to Make Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta – Step by Step Photos

Chopped spinach on a cutting board

Chop about 4 oz. of spinach into smaller pieces (about 1-inch pieces). The amount of spinach in this recipe is VERY flexible. So use less if you have less, just use up what you’ve got! You can also skip chopping if you’re in a hurry, but I like to chop because whole leaves can be a little stringy sometimes.

Whisked eggs

Crack four large eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk to your liking. I like to have some ribbons of white and yellow in my scrambled eggs, but you can whisk more if you like a more even color.

Spinach being added to a skillet with melted butter

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the chopped spinach. Sauté the spinach until it has wilted (2-3 minutes).

Whisked eggs being poured into the skillet with spinach

Push the sautéed spinach out to the outer edges of the skillet, then pour the whisked eggs in the center. Gently fold the eggs as the bottom layer solidifies, until the eggs are about 75% solid.

Eggs folded with spinach in the skillet

Fold the spinach into the eggs, then turn the heat off. The residual heat in the skillet will finish cooking the eggs without overcooking them or drying them out.

Finished eggs with feta and pepper

Finish off the eggs with 1 oz. crumbled feta, some freshly cracked black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

A plate full of scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, toast, and orange slices

Enjoy!!

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Quick Garlic Butter Shrimp

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been experimenting a with shrimp a little more lately. Why? It’s super fast and easy to cook, and you can add it to so many different things! So it’s a great à la carte protein that you can cook on the side and then add to any recipe. This […]

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As I mentioned last week, I’ve been experimenting a with shrimp a little more lately. Why? It’s super fast and easy to cook, and you can add it to so many different things! So it’s a great à la carte protein that you can cook on the side and then add to any recipe. This is super helpful for families that need to feed both vegetarians and omnivores. This Garlic Butter Shrimp is super tasty, takes only minutes to make, and can be paired with a variety of different flavored dishes (recommendations below).

Overhead view of a skillet full of Garlic Butter Shrimp

Tips for Enjoying Shrimp on a Budget

Shrimp is not usually thought of as a budget item. But there are ways that you can make it a little more affordable. And you may still only be able to splurge on something like this once per year, depending on your budget, but I want to make sure you know how to cook it when you do. :) So here are some tips for making shrimp work on a budget:

  • Purchasing frozen shrimp is usually less expensive than fresh, and you can keep it on hand without worries of it going bad, so head to your freezer section when shopping for shrimp. And as always, keep an eye out for sales!
  • Buy the right size shrimp for the recipe. Because smaller shrimp have more pieces per pound, it often feels like you’re getting more even when you’re using less. Reserve jumbo shrimp for appetizers or dishes where you’ll be eating one piece at a time. User smaller shrimp for salads, stir fries, pastas, and other recipes where the shrimp will be mixed in with other ingredients.
  • Pair your shrimp with less expensive ingredients, like pasta, rice, or vegetables to keep the overall cost of the recipe down.
  • Compare prices of peeled and shell-on shrimp. Sometimes you pay more for shrimp that is already peeled, but it only takes minutes to remove the shells by hand. 

What Size Shrimp to Use for Garlic Butter Shrimp

This recipe can be made with any size shrimp. Keep in mind that cooking time will be slightly longer for larger shrimp and slightly less for smaller shrimp. Because I planned to add this shrimp to other dishes, like salads, pasta, or rice pilafs, I used a slightly smaller shrimp so I would get more pieces per serving.

The shrimp I used on the day of the photos was 41-60 size, which means there are approximately 41-60 pieces per pound. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp. This size number is usually listed on the front of the package of shrimp.

Tail On or Tail Off?

You can cook this Garlic Butter Shrimp either with the tail on or the tail off. Leaving the tail on adds to the visual appeal and may add a little extra flavor to the pan sauce, but it can make for extra work while eating the shrimp. If you’re adding the shrimp to a dish where you don’t mind picking the shrimp up by hand to remove the tail as you eat, go ahead and leave the tail on. If you’ll be adding the shrimp to something like a saucy pasta where it would be difficult to pick out each shrimp and remove the tail before eating every bite, then remove the tail before cooking the shrimp.

How to Serve Garlic Butter Shrimp

As I mentioned in the intro, I love this Garlic Butter Shrimp because it’s a super fast protein that can be added on top of just about any recipe, like salads, pastas, stir fries, and more. Try adding this tasty shrimp to recipes like:

Close up of Garlic Butter Shrimp in pan sauce

 
Close up of Garlic Butter Shrimp in pan sauce

Garlic Butter Shrimp

This super quick Garlic Butter Shrimp is a great à la carte protein that can be added to just about any meal!
Total Cost $4.37 recipe / $2.19 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 2 ¼ lb. shrimp each
Calories 289.55kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. shrimp* $3.33
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 fresh lemon** $0.43
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.26
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.12
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley (optional) $0.05

Instructions

  • If your shrimp is frozen, place it in a colander and run cool water over the shrimp for a couple of minutes, or until thawed. If your shrimp is shell-on or tail-on, remove the shell and tail (if desired). Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
  • Squeeze two tablespoons of juice from the lemon. Mince the garlic.
  • Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium until the butter is melted and is beginning to foam.
  • Add the prepared shrimp to the skillet and cook the shrimp on each side just until pink and opaque. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp. It should only take 1-3 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the shrimp.
  • Finally, add the garlic and about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to the skillet. Continue to sauté the shrimp in the garlic butter for about one minute more, or just until the raw edge is cooked out of the garlic.
  • Season the shrimp with a little salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley. Toss to combine, then serve.

Notes

*Use fresh or frozen shrimp, shell and tail on or off. Any size shrimp will work, keeping in mind that larger shrimp will take slightly longer to cook than smaller shrimp.
**If you do not have a lemon you can replace the juice with chicken broth or white wine.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 289.55kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.1g | Protein: 23.35g | Fat: 20.3g | Sodium: 849.95mg | Fiber: 0.1g

Close up of one garlic butter shrimp with the skillet full in the background

How to Make Garlic Butter Shrimp – Step by Step Photos

Shrimp Package

This is the shrimp I used: frozen, 41-60 size, shell and tail on. You can make Garlic Butter Shrimp with fresh or frozen shrimp, shell and tail on or off, and any size. Just keep in mind that larger shrimp will take slightly longer to cook than smaller shrimp. Whichever size you get, shrimp in general cooks VERY fast and the most important thing to watch out for is that it is not over cooked. Overcooking shrimp makes it tough and rubbery. I used ½ lb. for this recipe, but you can easily double the recipe, if needed.

Thawed shrimp in a colander

If your shrimp is frozen, you’ll want to thaw it before cooking. Luckily, shrimp thaws very quickly! Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and run cool water over it for just a couple of minutes, or until thawed. 

Peeled shrimp next to a bowl of shrimp peels

If your shrimp comes peel-on, go ahead and peel it before cooking. The peel removes very quickly by hand. You can leave the tails on or take them off (see tips above the recipe for when you might want to leave them on vs. off). Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.

Minced garlic and juiced lemon

Mince two cloves of garlic. Juice one lemon. You’ll need about 2 Tbsp of juice, so if you only need to juice half to get that you can slice the other half to use as a garnish. If you don’t have a lemon, you can substitute white wine or chicken broth for the lemon juice.

Butter and olive oil in a skillet

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter to a large skillet. Heat over medium until the butter is melted and beginning to foam.

Shrimp in the skillet being flipped with tongs

Add the prepared shrimp to the skillet and cook on each side just until it’s opaque and pink (this should only take 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp). Flip the shrimp and cook on the other side. Do not over cook the shrimp. If anything, err on the side of under cooked because they will cook for about one minute more in the next step. In the photo above, you can see the pink shrimp that have been flipped and the grey shrimp that are still raw side facing up.

Garlic and lemon juice being added to the skillet

When the shrimp are cooked, add the minced garlic and lemon juice. Continue to sauté for about one minute more, or until the raw edge is off the garlic.

Chopped parsley added to the skillet

Season the shrimp with a little salt, freshly cracked pepper, and chopped parsley (optional). Toss to combine.

Finished Garlic Butter Shrimp in the skillet

Serve immediately, as-is or on top of your favorite salad, pasta, rice dish, or stir fry!

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Heirloom Apple Salad

The sort of hearty apple salad I love. It has heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is creamy and spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar.

Continue reading Heirloom Apple Salad on 101 Cookbooks

If you’re looking for a simple apple salad, you’re in the right place. There’s a reasonable chance that you have the ingredients needed to make it sprinkled around your kitchen – on counter tops, or in the crisper. And if not, there are lots of ways to make substitutes. It’s hearty and substantial, colorful and crunchy – made with heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is crème fraîche (or sour cream) spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar. 
Heirloom Apple Salad

Apple Salads – All About the Crunch

This salad is big on crunch. And that alone is likely the reason it has become a fall favorite. There’s crunch from crisp apples, celery, and nuts. Pair that with the creaminess in the dressing? It’s a nice contrast. My main tip? Seek out crisp apples with good flavor. And pass on mealy apples.
Heirloom Apple Salad

Substitutions

Think of this recipe as more of a sketch than anything else. I used arugula because it’s what I had on hand, but the baby gems at the market looked great and would have been a nice substitute. Same goes for the nuts. Toast whatever you have on hand – pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. And on the dressing front, crème fraîche brings a beautiful luxe texture into the mix, but  you can certainly use sour cream or even yogurt, and whatever good-tasting white wine vinegar you like.
Slicing Apples for Apple Salad

Slicing the Apples

Another variable you can experiment is the cut of the apple. You can see my preferred slices up above. They thick enough to retain some snap, and bite-sized. I like them sliced this way so you can get a bit of everything on a fork – some arugula, apple, nuts, etc. But if you really love apples, add more and slice them thicker. I also have it in my notes to do an apple salsa of sorts – with everything chopped smaller & a few serrano chiles chopped and added to the mix. For use on winter panini, and the like.
Bowl of Apple Salad in the Kitchen

The Dressing

The dressing is great on all sorts of things. Not just apple salad. It’s decadent drizzled over roasted potatoes (or sweet potatoes!), as a finishing kiss for mushrooms, or as a slather on panini. I also love it drizzled over oven-roasted broccoli, or a medley of sheet-pan baked vegetables.Heirloom Apple Salad

Your Apple Salad Ideas

Over the years you’ve left some great suggestions and variations in the comments. I’m going to highlight a few and also encourage you to let us know of any riffs on the recipe you enjoy in the future!

  • Amanda says, ” I grated a half a celery root into the salad as well, which boosted the yummy celery flavor and added another texture. So good!”
  • Chase brilliantly swapped in pears, “I have made this salad 8 times in the last 10 days!!!! An instant favorite! Hazelnuts were the nut of choice and a pear/apple mix with some added Rosemary crostini crumbled in gives it a great crunch!!!”
  • Dana turned it into more of a main dish, “I added some cooked and cooled wheat berries to this salad and it was divine! Nutty crunch and great nutrition to bulk it up for a main course dinner.”
  • Kara introduced a few ingredients, ““Hallelujah!” is what I thought when I bit into this salad today for lunch! I substituted baby broccoli for the celery, used walnuts, and some sliced Parmesan.”

Have fun and poke around for more salad recipes, or more fall recipe inspiration. I love this Genius Kale Salad, this Shaved Fennel Salad from Super Natural Every Day, this pure Cilantro Salad for the cilantro fans out there, and for more of a main, this Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad is always a go-to.

Continue reading Heirloom Apple Salad on 101 Cookbooks

Simple Bruschetta

Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making this classic Italian antipasto. It is such a simple preparation that paying attention to the little details matters. My favorite bruschetta techniques, and a few simple variations as well.

Continue reading Simple Bruschetta on 101 Cookbooks

This is the very best time of year to make bruschetta. It’s late summer and tomatoes are vivid and ripe, saturated with flavor. Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making this classic, open-faced Italian antipasto. This is such a simple preparation it means paying attention to the little details matters. Today I’m going to talk through how I make my favorite bruschetta, and include a few simple variations as well.
Simple Bruschetta

The Importance of Using Good Ingredients

The first rule of making great bruschetta is to use the best ingredients you can get. You’re using such a short list of ingredients, it’s important they’re all super flavorful. Use fragrant, golden extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar that tastes good, and in-season, ripe tomatoes. We’ll talk about choosing bread next, but using good bread and tomatoes and olive oil is everything here and dictates whether your results will be “pretty good”, or “omg so good.”

What Kind of Bread Should you Use for Bruschetta?

In short, you want a hearty bread that can stand up to grilling. Marcella Hazan says, “the name bruschetta comes from bruscare, which means “to roast over coals” the original and still the best way of toasting the bread.” She calls for Italian whole wheat bread (pane integrale) sliced 1 1/2 inches thick. I usually use whatever hearty sourdough or country loaf I have on hand at the time. If you’re baking homemade sourdough, by all means use that. Bruschetta is a great way to use up day(s)-old bread. Many sources will tell you 1/2-inch slices are the goal, and Marcella weighs in suggesting we use bread sliced 1 1/2-inches thick. I find that slices 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick hit the sweet spot where you can get a good ratio of topping to bread in each bite. 

That said, let me back up a minute and note that a lot of the bruschetta I see photos of are actually crostini – small two-bite toasts sliced from a white baguette-style bread and topped with a tomato mixture. That’s not what I’m talking about today. The bruschetta I love uses hearty slabs of bread, preferably with a dense crumb. It is grilled, rubbed well with garlic (both sides!), and topped. These aren’t two-bite affairs, they’re more like 5-6.

As far as grilling the bread? In the A16: Food+Wine cookbook they note, “the word bruschetta, which is derived from bruciare, “to burn” implies that some charring on the bread is desirable.” Assuming both sources are right about the origins of the name bruschetta, we want to grill our bread, and get a kiss of the burn you get from grilling. If you don’t have access to a grill, second choice would be to use a broiler. Third option, use  a stovetop grill pan.
Grilled Sourdough Bread for Making Bruschetta

A Tip for Grilling Bread

Brush each slice with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil before grilling. I find this helps keep the bread from drying out as it is toasting. As soon as you’ve removed the bread from the grill, and it is cool enough to handle, rub both sides vigorously with a peeled clove of garlic. Especially if you love garlic as much as I do.

Today’s Bruschetta Recipe

It’s my favorite, simple, use-your-best-tomatoes version. Red tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, salt, torn basil, and a splash of vinegar. I’ll include the recipe for this down below, but you can use the same approach for the other variations I list here.
Simple Bruschetta with Ripe Red Tomatoes and Basil

Let’s Talk about the Vinegar Component

I think of the vinegar in bruschetta as a seasoning component of sorts. It brings acidity, melds with the olive oil, and brings some balance. I’ll say it outright. You can’t use awful vinegar and there’s a lot of it out there. I made so much bruschetta in my twenties using harsh vinegars, and I’m just sad it took me a while to find the magic of good ones. Two favorite vinegars top of mind right now include Katz vinegars, and Brightland’s Parasol.

If you taste your vinegar and wince hard, or if it has a musty smell, consider investing in a new bottle. In Italy you encounter bruschetta using a range of vinegars. I tend to use a favorite white wine vinegar (for this and many salads), but if you have a red wine vinegar, herb vinegar or balsamic vinegar you love, use that. I’d even argue, a squeeze of lemon juice is a better choice than a bad tasting vinegar. If you use lemon juice, add some zest while you’re at it. It might not be traditional, but it will be delicious! 
Bruschetta Made with Seasonal Tomatoes and Basil

A Few Bruschetta Variations

  • Yellow Tomato Bruschetta with Dukkah & Lemon Zest: A version of bruschetta with yellow teardrop tomatoes tossed with good olive oil, torn basil, a splash of good-tasting white wine vinegar. Pictured below. Finished with lots of lemon zest and a generous sprinkling of dukkah. You can make your dukkah. Or, I also love this Botanica version. If you keep a lemon olive oil on hand, use that for an extra-special version.
    Bruschetta with Yellow Tomatoes
  • Pan-blistered Artichoke Bruschetta: Top grilled bread with golden-crusted baby artichokes, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil or lemon olive oil, black pepper, and sprinkle with chives and/or chive flowers. Pictured in the center of the photo below.
    Bruschetta - Three Different Ways
  • More ideas: I love a spicy red tomato version drizzled with lots of spicy garlic-chili oil
  • Or a yellow tomato version tossed with a garlic-turmeric oil, and finished with lots of black pepper. This take is zero-percent traditional but everyone loves it.
    An Assortment of Simple Bruschetta

    Cold-weather Bruschetta

    Although I’m writing this in summer – prime tomato and grilling season – you can experiment with bruschetta all year long. Roasted slabs of winter squash or sweet potatoes topped with a salsa verde are great. Or sautéed garlicky winter greens or kale and a bit of grated cheese. Think of all the toppings you can do with roasted mushrooms, roasted beets, and the like. Combine any of these with the last of whatever beans you may have cooked earlier in the week.  I’ll also note, this is the time of year I shift any bruschetta-making to the broiler from the grill.
    Preparing Bruschetta in the Kitchen
    I hope more than anything that this post is a reminder that the simplest food can be the best food. The tail end of a loaf of homemade sourdough, a few tomatoes from the garden along with a sprinkling of whatever herbs and herb flowers are there, garlic, and olive oil? Makes a perfect little meal, or party spread (if we were still having parties xx). 

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