Recipe: Eech (An Armenian Salad)

I make a lot of Armenian recipes at home.  While some are very labor intensive, others are really simple and use a lot of the ingredients on my list of pantry staples.  Lately I’ve been making Eech, a delicious Armenian salad that is usually served as an appetizer with pita bread.  It tastes like tabbouleh and uses most of the same ingredients but is less labor intensive.   This tasty vegetarian dish doesn’t require any cooking so during busy weeks or heat waves (like this week in NYC)  I know I can turn to this recipe.  I hope you will too!

Eech

1 cup of bulgur wheat (medium or fine blend)

1 8 oz can of tomato sauce

¼ cup of lemon juice (either 2 fresh lemons or RealLemon)

¼ cup of vegetable oil

1 small onion or half of a medium onion finely chopped

A handful of parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Refrigerate 1-2 hours until bulgur expands (it will cook itself in the liquid).  Give it another mix before serving and serve with pita bread.  This pairs really well with hummus in a sandwich.

I’ve found myself making this on Sunday nights and letting it refrigerate overnight.  As far as entertaining, it’s a TOTAL crowdpleaser people will think you’re the greatest cook ever when all you’ve really done is put ingredients in a bowl.  My aunt takes this to people’s houses and it’s devoured in seconds.

Drop a comment if you decide to make this, I’d love to hear your raves!

Tuesday Ten: My Pantry Staples

English: Uncooked bulgur wheat

Bulgur Wheat – For those who don’t know what it is!

Lauren Conrad’s blog is great for quick, healthy recipes, fashion recommendations and budget friendly workouts.  Last Tuesday she wrote about her top 10 pantry items so I thought that I would create my own to share with you, a week later.  Keeping these on hand at all times is crucial for preparing my budget meals especially at the end of the month when you’re waiting for the next budget cycle to kick in.

Canned Tomato Sauce 

I keep about 3-5 8 oz cans of tomato sauce on hand at all times and use it in place of  jarred spaghetti sauce.  (Saute garlic in a pan for a few seconds, add sauce and season with fresh or dried Italian herbs). It’s also a base for some Armenian dishes that I make pretty often which I will share with you later.

Frozen Vegetables

Inexpensive, long lasting, healthy shortcut.  Thaw and add to a salad, saute for a stirfry, or for a pasta toss.  Make sure you buy the ones without sauces or added flavorings since those have a lot of sodium and even cost more.  You probably have the seasoning in your pantry s well.

Frozen Shrimp

I used this in paella, pasta, on salads, when I’ve run out of meats I know that I have frozen shrimp on hand.

Bulgur Wheat  

I swear to god this is the next trendy grain.  But Armenians have been eating this forever.  I make bulgur pilaf as a side to chicken or beef, or in some Armenian dishes.  Mix with meet and stuff into peppers.  Mark Bittman has a few recipes for breakfast bulgur, something I haven’t tried before, but similar to an oatmeal dish.  I buy in bulk at international grocery stores, it can run from $1-$2 a pound and comes in xtra coarse, coarse, medium and fine.  The medium is the most versatile so I usually go with that one.

Canned Tuna

When you run out of EVERYTHING, you always have a can of tuna.  One of my new favorite combos is tuna salad with avocado just together without bread.  Top with salsa for an even more delicious combo.  When I’m craving comfort food I usually whip up a tuna melt.

Cheese

Cheese is one of life’s guilty pleasures, who doesn’t love to snack on cheese all the time? I usually keep sliced deli cheese on hand to put on sandwiches or in salads.  Whenever I go to Trader Joe’s I stock up on multiple varieties from goat to gouda.  If  you have small pasta on hand then you have the makings for homemade mac and cheese.  No need to spend extra on the box.

Oils and Vinegars 

In my cupboard I have sesame, canola, and olive oils, white wine, red wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegars.  The number sauces and salad dressings you can create is endless and you’ll never have to buy the bottled kinds again.  Mix sesame oil and rice wine vinegar with peanut butter to make peanut sauce, mix any of the vinegars and oils with a bit of Dijon mustard to make your own vinaigrette.

Onions

Onions are an aromatic that creates a base of flavor in many dishes.  I always have these on hand to cook with to add a layer of flavor.

Peanut Butter

A hearty protein to spread on toast before a run, or on top of apples to make a more satisfying snack.  Also, I often make my own peanut sauce for Asian noodles.  Try this recipe from We Are Not Martha.

Eggs

Good for breakfast, egg salad (when you’re low on sandwich goods), also boil some up to put on top of a salad.  You can always make your own omelette with a side salad for those nights when you really just don’t feel like cooking.  Here’s the recipe I posted a few weeks back on baked eggs.

I hope you find these helpful!

What are your pantry staples?

One Package of Chicken, One Week of Meals

Hello everyone! It’s that time of the month, the last two days before my budget replenishes and I am running on fumes until payday. Which means I literally can’t spend one cent until Wednesday. On top of that, my pantry is running pretty bare of staples. Yesterday I had one package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts left in the freezer and was determined to make them work for dinners and lunches until at least Wednesday.

Lately I’ve been wondering if my recipes really fit in with my blogging, but Carly from (Re)Creating Carly had told me to “keep them coming!” Thanks for the feedback, Carly! And to everyone else, if you ever need a motherboard installed on your computer, then she’s your girl.

My findings in the pantry/’fridge/freezer revealed zucchini, arborio rice, brown rice, parsley, cilantro, frozen shrimp, frozen broccoli, half of a tomato. I started to dream up yummy concoctions in my head, google search my ingredients and came up with the following options:

  1. Saffron Risotto with Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage
  2. Chicken dressed in Chimichurri Sauce with Brown Rice and Zucchini
  3. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Pizza

Making bulk dishes that combine ingredients are a great way to stretch your food budget for the week and preparing multiple dishes will prevent boredom. I made a trip to the grocery store for pizza dough, cream cheese, one Italian sausage and sliced mozzarella cheese (sliced cheese at the deli counter is way cheaper than buying the shredded kind, I think it covers the pizza much better too). I spent a total of $10.

I started by cutting the chicken into one inch cubes and sauteing them in a fry pan Followed by the sausage. Then got started on the risotto.

If you’ve never made risotto before, it’s pretty easy. I get the Arborio rice from Trader Joe’s and prepare according to the package directions. You’ll have to keep a pot of heated broth on while you’re preparing. I used a bouillon cube to make the broth and then whatever was left over to prepare the brown rice for my chicken/chimicurri meal. I added onion and garlic at the bottom of the pot first. After adding the first laddle of broth I added the saffron to allow the color to diffuse throughout the cooking process. About half way through I added chopped tomatoes and then at the end added one quarter of the chicken, sausage and a handful of frozen shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are thawed.

I had left over broth so I added a cup of brown rice to the pot and left it alone until it cooked through. I cut my zucchini by halving first length wise and then width wise and then into half inch pieces. I threw them in another fry pan with a bit of olive oil. I then prepared my chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is one of my favorite sauces. It’s typically used on steak but I put it on chicken, burgers, corn on the cob. I like this recipe found on Epicurious.

Before mixing the chicken with the chimichurri, I held out a handful of chicken which I will use to make my pizza tonight. The rest of the chicken was mixed with the tangy green sauce and served with rice and zucchini.

This evening, I will be making my pizza. I found a recipe for a really easy alfredo sauce using cream cheese right here. I’ll top the pizza with frozen broccoli and chicken and bake off this evening and enjoy some leftovers tomorrow!

What are some ways that you stretch your budget until the end of the week?

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