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Food: (First of Many) Feasts Under $5 – Black Beans with Lime and Feta

August 29, 2011

After my meal at The Friendly Toast last weekend, I wanted to recreate the black beans and spinach for my new Feasts Under $5 feature.  Having no idea what was in the Toast recipe, I used the bean/spinach/feta base and played around, creating a cheap and Meatless Monday friendly option. I added peppers and lime juice and made up a mix of spices, and the result was hearty and flavorful. The best part, however, is that this meal is healthy. I’m not a nutritionist, but I can add – the total calories (from all 4 servings)  are 1100, total fat is 30 grams. So one serving (of 4)  is only 275 calories and 7.5 grams of fat.

Nutritional and financial aspects aside, this is really delicious. It’s vegetarian, but you could easily grill some chicken with salt and pepper if you wanted to add meat, or you could go the other direction and make it vegan, if you forgo the cheese. Which I won’t, but you know, to each her own.

Black Beans with Lime and Feta
– serves 2 to 4

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green pepper (or yellow or red or combination)
1 9oz bag spinach
2 x 15oz cans black beans (OR substitute “spicy” canned black beans and ditch the spices in the recipe)
juice of 2 limes plus zest of 1 lime
6 oz feta, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
2 dashes cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano (dried)

Saute peppers, spinach, shallot and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently. The moisture in the spinach allows you to saute without oil, butter or extra fat. Once the spinach is wilted and the moisture has evaporated, add black beans, spices (if using them), salt, and lime juice. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until liquid has reduced by half and flavor has intensified. Top with feta cheese. Serve plain, over rice, or with tortillas. Voila!

Financial Analysis:
Shallot: $.50
Peppers: $3.49
Organic Spinach: $3.99
2 Limes: $1
Feta: $3.49
2 cans Black Beans: $1.29 x 2 = $2.58 (price used below) or 2 cans Spicy Black Beans: $1.49 x 2 = $2.98
Total: 15.55 for 4 servings, or $3.88 per person.

If you want a bag of rice or tortillas, you increase your total meal cost by about $3.00, so your per person cost with “spicy” black beans and rice would be $4.61, total meal cost $18.45. If, instead of rice, you want to add 2 chicken breasts (1 lb of chicken, 1/4lb per person), you increase your cost by $5.00, so your new total would be $20.05, or $5.01. Remember, pantry staples are included in this meal cost already.

I haven’t been to McDonald’s in a while, but I can’t imagine you can Super Size it for much less than that, and I KNOW this meal has better protein, flavor, and overall nutritional value. Voila.

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