BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Candy Cane Beets with Yogurt and Pistachio-Mint Pesto

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 25 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $8

Early on in my relationship with Evan, our friend Ellie commented that Evan and I were perfect for each other because I cook, and he is invariably the loudest, most enthusiastic eater at the table. She was right--his moans and groans and fluttery eyelids last throughout most meals, no matter how seemingly simple the food. The guy simply loves to eat.

The first time I saw him eat sushi, we were on a double date with a friend of mine and her new boyfriend, and I was slightly embarrassed (every piece of every maki roll got plenty of verbal and nonverbal attention), but mostly, I was enamored--and felt damn lucky: Somehow I had managed to find the greatest guy in the world, and he REALLY loves food. Obviously, this was meant to be.

Of course, not every dish warrants a standing ovation. He's honest about when something needs a little salt (or has too much of it--sometimes I have a heavy hand in that department). And by the same token, some dishes go above and beyond his regular (very optimistic) expectations. This dish, I'm happy to tell you is one of them.

I first made this a few weeks ago after a long Sunday of socializing and catching up with work. Our brains and nerves were fried, so we decided that a relaxing evening of dinner and an episode of Orange is the New Black were in order. I wanted our meal to be easy to make and fun to eat. I also didn't want to go to the grocery store, so, I worked with what we had. And what we had was beets, yogurt, pistachios and mint.

The result was Middle Eastern meets Sonoma wine picnic, and it was just what we needed. Tender-crisp, sweet beets, dragged through creamy Greek yogurt and a pistachio-mint pesto that tastes like much more than the sum of its parts. This would soon become a regular addition to our meal rotation. I was proud to have created something that illicited so much praise from Evan, but the truth is that the beets were just so sweet, the yogurt so creamy and the mint-pistachio combination so perfect, that the only thing I really deserved credit for was bringing them all together. 

As usual, we had a ball of pizza dough in the fridge, which I rolled and cooked into naan-like flatbreads, and served alongside to scoop up this platter of goodness. Quinoa, tabbouleh or brown rice would also be a good addition.

I like to serve this as the center of a meal, but it also makes a lovely appetizer, especially with chilled white wine or Prosecco. 


  • 3 large or 4 medium candy cane beets (red or golden beets will also work), tops removed and saved for another use $3
  • cup fresh mint leaves (about 1 small bunch) $1
  • 1/3 cup toasted, shelled pistachios (buy in the bulk section), plus a few for garnish $2.50
  • clove garlic, peeled Pantry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste Pantry
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about 1/4 lemon) $0.50 for a whole lemon
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt (preferably full fat) $2 for 8 oz.
  • freshly ground black pepper Pantry

Recipe Serves 2-3


  1. Cook the beets in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, until tender.
  2. Under cold running water, slip the skins off the beets and discard.
  3. Slice the beets into 1/4" rounds. Set aside.
  4. In a blender or food processor, combine the mint, pistachios, garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Pulse until a thick paste forms, and stir in the salt.
  5. Spoon the yogurt into the center of a large dinner plate.
  6. Arrange the beets around the yogurt mound.
  7. Drizzle the pesto around the outside of the beets.
  8. Garnish with pepper and a scattering of pistachios.
  9. Serve immediately.

Shirataki Noodle Salad with Tofu and Peanuts

  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Cook Time 15 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $13

I need to tell you about yesterday because it was completely amazing.

It all started about a month ago, when the Young & Hungry writing team was just getting started. Dave Holden, the head writer and creator of the series, wanted his writers to experience my San Francisco food world firsthand, so he asked me to organize a day of eating, drinking and fun for them, in order to help inspire their telling of fictional Gabi's world.

I reached out to some of my favorite Mission District food businesses, and put together what turned out to be the most fun day ever.

I brought along my food blogging buddies, Irvin Lin (of Eat the Love), Sean Timberlake (of Punk Domestics), and Sabrina Modelle (of The Tomato Tart), so the writing team could learn learn a bit about the food blogging scene (and also because I like eating and drinking with them so much), and we set off on our foodventure.

We toured the Dandelion Chocolate shop/factory, and tasted pure chocolate straight out of the mixer.

We sampled cheese and beer at Mission Cheese and pastries from Craftsman and Wolves and Tartine.

We had an incredible wine tasting at 18 Reasons, led by Bi-Rite's amazing John Lee.

We gorged ourselves on Korean tacos, mushroom dumplings, spicy chicken wings, okonomiyaki, and pickles and beer at Namu Gaji, and then headed next door for Bi-Rite ice cream

And then, when the writers' plane was delayed 2 hours, we headed to Elixir, my go-to watering hole, for more drinks.

By the time we said our final goodbyes, I was feeling drunk, happy, and incredibly full.

So, the plan today is to keep things light, food-wise.

Enter shirataki noodles.

These miraculous (and, admittedly, kind of weird) noodles are made from soy and sweet potato. They come in 7-ounce bags, packed in a strangely fishy-smelling liquid, but don't be put off by this. Draining and rinsing them well, along with a quick boil will make them pleasantly chewy and pretty damn similar-tasting to wheat or rice noodles. 

Even better, a serving has a mere 25 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of fiber, no gluten, and zero fat. If you're going to be eating noodles, I highly suggest swapping these in every now and again. They're satisfying, tasty, and spare you the "oh-my-god-I-just-ate-enough-food-for-3-people" feeling that so often follows a pasta meal.

My favorite kind is the Spinach Fettucine variety from Wildwood, but plain or any other flavor will work just fine.

Here, I toss the noodles with crunchy cabbage, shredded carrots and simple, uncooked tofu. Feel free to use shredded chicken, poached prawns or even grilled beef as your protein component. 


  • 2 7-ounce packages of shirataki noodles (typically found near the tofu--I'm particularly fond of the "Spinach Fettucine" variety from Wildwood's Pasta Slim $3
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar $2.50
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari Pantry
  • a few drops of sesame oil Optional
  • Asian chili paste to taste Optional
  • 1 clove garlic, minced Pantry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey Pantry
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/2 small head) $1.50 for a whole head
  • 2 carrots, grated or cut into matchsticks $0.50
  • 6 ounces medium-soft tofu, cut into small cubes $1.50 for 12 oz.
  • 2 scallions, sliced $1 for a bunch
  • 1 small handful fresh mint leaves $1 for a bunch
  • 1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves $1 for a bunch
  • 1/4 cup shelled, roasted peanuts (buy in the bulk section), crushed $1.50

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Take the noodles out of their packages and drain the liquid they come packed in.
  2. Put the noodles in a strainer and place them under a cool running faucet for 30-45 seconds, to remove as much of their "fishy" smell as possible.
  3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the noodles.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. 
  5. Drain and rinse noodles in cool water, then set aside.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, if using, chili paste, if using, garlic, and sugar or honey. Set aside.
  7. Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl, and toss with half of the dressing. 
  8. Layer the dressed veggies on a serving platter or in a serving bowl.
  9. In the same bowl you tossed the veggies with dressing, toss the cooked, rinsed noodles in the remaining dressing.
  10. Layer the dressed noodles atop the dressed cabbage and carrots.
  11. Top the noodles with the cubed tofu, scallions, mint, cilantro and crushed peanuts.
  12. Serve immediately.

Here's our final Reuse Roundup post! This one comes from Kaitlyn Breedlove, of Durham, NC.

Read on for her tip! I'll announce the Reuse Roundup winner this Monday :)

Kaitlyn Says:

I love your idea of tips to limit waste. We so often waste things that may seem insignificant to us, but with a look work can become something extremely valuable. 

I pretty regularly make homemade Mozzarella cheese.

After the cheese is finished, you are left with a huge pot full of whey. Most people dump it down the drain; the thought of that pains me. Whey is incredibly versatile and can be used in more than just the kitchen which is why I love it so much. Here are a few ways to use it…

 1. Homemade Ricotta cheese - Ricotta is one of the simplest cheeses to make, especially when using whey. Simply heat the whey up to 200 degrees, take it off the heat and allow it to cool to 140 degrees, strain it, and you have Ricotta (I’d suggest looking up more detailed instructions if making it, but that’s the gist of it). 

 2. Add protein to a smoothie/milkshake - I have a smoothie pretty much every morning, and adding whey gives it a boost of protein without having to buy protein powder. 

3. Lacto-fermented Pickles (or other vegetables) - if you’re a fan of lacto-fermented vegetables but usually make them with salt, try making them with whey instead. The fermentation time is usually faster, and you don’t run the risk of getting vegetables that are super salty. 

 4. Water your garden - your vegetable plants will greatly benefit from being watered with whey (just make sure to dilute the whey with water)


5. Substitute for liquids in baking - I have used whey as a substitute for milk and/or water in countless recipes. Breads, muffins, pancakes, you name it. If it has a liquid in it, whey can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio. It tends to give your baked goods a taste more similar to sourdough.

 6. Whey Lemonade - homemade lemonade that has whey in it is full of probiotics and is great for the flora in your gut. There are lots of good recipes for whey lemonade on the web.  

 7. Feed it to your chickens - while this probably won’t apply to a ton of people, for those of us who have backyard chickens whey is a great supplement for chicken feed as it contains a lot of protein. This is especially beneficial when chickens are molting

 There are a ton of other ways to use whey, some of which I have tried and some which I haven’t. From chicken broth substitute, to a substitution for water when cooking rice/oatmeal/quinoa, etc, to skin moisturizer, it seems like whey can be used for just about anything. And it can be frozen and saved for a later date, which is just an added bonus. 

All from a gallon of milk!  


Today's Reuse Roundup post comes from Audrey Dang of Nashville, TN.

I hope her tip inspires you to send me your best kitchen tip(s) for waste minimizing--you could win a Google Nexus 7 tablet and signed copies of both of my cookbooks. Only 1 day left to enter the contest (it ends tomorrow, March 7th)!!

Email tips to 

Audrey says:

Since I share a refrigerator with roommates, it is especially easy for me to forget about ingredients long enough for them to spoil.  To help me remember and encourage me to plan meals, I keep a list of perishable food on my computer desktop. Then, I plan my next meal based on the ingredients or few on my list that are closest to spoiling.  

Right now, the list has avocado, red bell pepper, celery, and sweet potatoes.  I'm thinking about making an egg frittata topped with avocado, your sweet potato and black bean tacos, or potato soup.  If I have multiple ingredients that need to be used up, I do an internet or Pinterest search with the names of the ingredients and the word "recipe" to see if there is a dish that can combine them all.    


Today's Reuse Roundup post comes from Kate O'Neill of Toronto, Ontario.

I hope her tip inspires you to send me your best kitchen tip(s) for waste minimizing--you could win a Google Nexus 7 tablet and signed copies of both of my cookbooks. Only 1 day left to enter the contest (it ends tomorrow, March 7th)!!

Email tips to 

Kate says:

There always seems to be the tail end of something green in my fridge, not enough for a full side dish but to much for the green bin.

I use up the ends of salad lettuce, spinach and other greens in my pasta. About three minutes before the pasta has finished cooking I toss any leftover veggies (cut to the same size for even cooking) into the boiling pasta water. Over the years I have added all types of lettuce, all leafy greens, any colour of pepper, diced carrots, you name it, you can put it in. Think of it as a quick blanche.

Drain with the pasta, toss in the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and enjoy!

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