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Budget Stretchers: Rice, ‘Taters, Beans

July 13, 2012

Funds are tight. The economy is a challenge for many. In generations past, many dug into the pantry for staples – rice, potatoes, beans. We’ve shown some of these in Depression cooking posts a couple of years ago on our farm blog.

Diced potatoes can be used with peppers, onions, a variety of meats; top with a little cheese, drizzle with a white sauce or gravy.

Many will dread this “poor people” eating, but how many chefs use these ingredients?! How about exploring the world? Here are some starters (note each recipe links to the original source – I cut/pasted the recipe itself also in case websites go down or aren’t accessible):

Potatoes –

Colcannon (Ireland)

You can add bacon bits or other things if you wish.


  • 4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt
  • 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
  • 3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
  • 3 green onions (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup milk or cream

1 Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain in a colander.

2 Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it’s hot, add the greens. Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water. Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.

3 Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.

Makes 4 servings as side dish.

Curried Potato & Vegetable Soup


  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a head)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
  • 2 small yellow summer squash, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley) for garnish

1 In a large pot (6-quart), melt butter over medium high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrot and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and the bell pepper is lightly browned. Add the turmeric, mustard seed, and curry powder and cook for a minute more. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.

2 Add the potatoes, the broth, water, cauliflower, and salt. Increase the heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high or medium, enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

3 Add the corn and summer squash, cook for 10 minutes more, until the vegetables are cooked through. Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to purée about half of the soup. Adjust seasonings.

Garnish with chopped cilantro (or parsley, though cilantro is particularly good with this soup).

Serves 8.

Mediterranean Casserole

1> Take two healthy springs of sweet basil, maybe 16 small leaves. Ditto flat-leaved parsley. Two cloves fresh garlic, smashed to peel them and then smashed again. 1/2 tsp Kosher salt. Mince the herbs, put all in a mortar and grind well to release the oils. Transfer to a small bowl and add 1/3 cup olive oil. Let sit for 4-6 hours.

2> Peel the potatoes and gently boil them whole until tender. Drain and pat dry. Put into a large workbowl (I used a large Corning casserole) and mash a little. Do not overmash, as you need the texture to be preserved. Gently fold in 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Asiago (I happened to have Parmesan available) and 12-15 Calamata olives, pitted and minced.

Take 1/3 cup room temperature sour cream and whisk in a like amount of chicken broth. Place in blender. Add 4 cloves mushy roasted garlic and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Add 1/3 stick unsalted butter, melted. Blend until smooth. Fold this liquid into the potatoes. If it seems too wet, add a tsp or two of Italian Style Bread Crumbs (available under the Progresso brand). This should be the consistency of mashed potatoes…. not to creamy, not too thick.

Press this into a cast-iron skillet (a 7 incher should be about right, depending on the size of the potatoes) pre-greasing with a little olive oil. Bake as you would potatoes Jannsen, finishing by turning on the broiler toward the last to brown the top. Serve. Drizzle the olive oil (section 1) onto the potatoes at the table.

Five Layer Potato Casserole

2 medium onions, sliced

1/2 pound lean ground beef, ground lamb, leftover shredded chicken, diced rabbit-browned/cooked

8 medium potatoes, cooked and sliced

1 cup corn,cooked

1 10 1/2 cream of mushroom (or other) soup

Layer as listed in 9×13″ pan, adding 1 soup can water at end. Cover with foil, bake at 350* for 30 minutes. You can change corn for peas or zucchini for variety.  Serves 8.


Just Beans – over 4700 recipes – all kinds of beans and tastes!

Eating Well has *more* bean recipes, from taco salad to BBQ beans to bean soups.


Rice lends itself to a wide range of dishes – check Indian and other ethnic cooking. Different types of rice lend themselves to different recipes. Check out recipes from Japan, Chinese cooking and Thai cooking that maintain rice as a staple food.

With using beans, rice and potatoes we can stretch (not eliminate) meat for those who enjoy meat. We can fill up without breaking the budget. Whether it’s to stretch until payday, make more of what you have, or put some variety into meals, check out the embedded links in this post. Find recipes that work for your tastes.

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