Chef Jose Andres Talks Budget-Friendly Recipes on NPR

Posted by / Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Photo by giffconstable/Flickr

Photo by giffconstable/Flickr

Yesterday on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Chef Jose Andres, the Spanish mastermind behind Café Atlantico and Jaleo, shared his recipe for a thrifty yet fabulous meal — a garlic and saffron-infused Morrocan-style chickpea and spinach stew — that feeds four people for under $10.

Chef Andres, who the Washingtonian credits with introducing the small plates concept to the area, first tasted the stew when his then-new wife prepared it for him — with less than economical results. It wasn’t the pinch of saffron that broke the budget; it was the long distance call she made to her mother to walk her through the recipe from start to finish:

Andres tells NPR’s Michele Norris. “I remember how good it was, how affordable it was. But the telephone bill is something I will remember forever.”

To bring down the cost of this dish, skip the staggering long distance bill by checking out the recipe here, and use dried chickpeas instead of canned. The trick to cooking dried chickpeas, according to the Chef Andres, is to 1) soak them overnight with a pinch of baking soda and 2) learn the language of peas so that you, like a skilled lover, can tell when they are supple, willing and ready:

“You’re going to look at them, talk to them,” he says. “What if you’re not fluent? I’m talking to them, touching them, and with a little pressure in your fingers, you see they are very soft thing. The chickpeas is telling me, ‘I am ready.’

Those are some lucky garbanzos beans.

Do you have an arsenal of cost-effective recipes that will tide you through the recession? Share them with NPR’s “How Low Can You Go” challenge by May 1, and your recipe might be mentioned on air. Or you can just skim the 60+ recipes that have already been submitted to find something to make for dinner tonight.

– Christina Lee

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