The US$7 Dinner Challenge
Bananas, custard and asparagus are not the most obvious elements on which to base a meal.
And when I started thinking about Sarah Cucina Bella’s $7 dinner challenge they were far from my mind.
Originally I was planning a red lentil dal with yoghurt and rice. Good bargain fodder. Until I saw asparagus for a dollar and realised bananas were the cheapest fruit in the supermarket.
Which is when my plan changed.
Instead my meal is a barley, fetta and asparagus salad followed by a healthier take on bananas and custard.
Converting US dollars to Australian money meant I had a budget of A$10. In the rules of the challenge, this money has to make a two-course dinner for four people. My main course and dessert come in at $9.92, just under budget. I’ve put the details of costs and where I shopped below.
Barley, fetta and asparagus salad
- 180g pearl barley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions, cut in half & sliced into half-moons
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1cm slices
- 2 carrots, grated
- ¼ bunch fresh coriander
- 50g fetta cheese
- 20g pumpkin seeds
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Cook the barley: Rinse the barley well, as it tends to be dusty. Place in a saucepan with 2½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for about 35 minutes.
Sauté the vegetables: When the barley is half way through cooking put a small saucepan over a medium-low heat. Once warm add the olive oil and onions. Cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from sticking. The onions should be soft and slightly browned. Add the asparagus. Cook for a further 3 minutes, until the asparagus is softened but still crunchy.
Finish the salad: Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drain any excess water from the barley. When the vegetables are cooked add to the barley, with the carrots, coriander, fetta and pumpkin seeds. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Serve this while still warm.
Banana custard puddings
I made these puddings in small ramekin dishes. You could also make one larger pudding, in an oven-proof bowl. While I had the idea of custard in my head, the final version is not very custard-like. But it is delicious.
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled
- 250g (250ml) natural yoghurt
- 2 free range eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Prepare the puddings Cut the bananas into chunky pieces. Whisk together the yoghurt, eggs, sugar and spice. Add the banana and mix together. Spoon this batter into four ramekin dishes.
Cook the puddings: Stand the ramekins in a roasting tray. Pour water into the tray, until it comes half way up the side of the dishes. Place in the oven and cook for 35 – 40 minutes, until the custard is cooked and golden brown on top.
I bought ingredients from the Woolworths in Balmain on Monday 13 October. I’ve prorated the costs where I didn’t use the whole packet.
- 180g pearl barley $0.87
- 2 tablespoons olive oil $0.26
- 2 onions $0.76
- 1 bunch asparagus $1.00
- 2 carrots $0.51
- ¼ bunch fresh coriander $0.49
- 50g fetta cheese $0.61
- 20g pumpkin seeds $0.42
- ½ lemon $0.51
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano $0.11
- 3 ripe bananas $1.74
- 250g natural yoghurt $1.30
- 2 free range eggs $1.01
- 1 tablespoon sugar $0.04
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice $0.28
- Total: $9.92