Slow Food USA $5 Challenge

Posted by on September 21, 2011

The Slow Food USA $5 dinner challenge involved finding the real meaning in a “value meal”-a homemade meal shared with loved ones, made with fresh ingredients because “slow food shouldn’t cost more than fast food”.  The challenge: host a dinner party based around  locally sourced ingredients that support the slow food vision that cost less than $5 a person. The philosophy of the slow food movement—“food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet”.

My vegetarian, sustainable dinner party for 6 was created for less than $5 a person and was inspired by seasonal produce from my farmers market or what I could find in my backyard.

Ingredients from the backyard pantry: cucumber, eggs, 1 eggplant, tomatoes, red bell pepper, basil, parsley, mint and potatoes. Inside pantry: whole wheat flour, yeast, sunflower seeds, spices, lemon ($1), local raw honey and olive oil.

Ingredients from my farmers market: garlic from Houston Farms ($1), onions from Bell’s Best Berries ($1), Turkish eggplants from Rosemary Pete ($3), milk from Simply Local for homemade yogurt ($6).

Turkish Eggplants from Rosemary Pete


Slow Food $5 Dinner Challenge

Walnut and Eggplant Dumplings

Walnut and Eggplant Dumplings in a Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Ingredients (Don’t be put off by the ingredient list, this is an easy dish)

1 1/2 cups roasted eggplant puree
1 cup walnut pieces, chopped
3 eggs
2 medium onions, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup basil, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup bread crumbs
28 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix tomato sauce, cinnamon, honey and chili flakes together. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blend eggplant and walnuts until smooth. Add in onions, paprika, cumin, basil and olive oil. Season to taste. Add in egg. Blend in bread crumbs until smooth.
  3. Heat a pot of boiling water to a simmer. Drop eggplant mixture by spoonfuls into boiling water. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove to drainer. Cook all of the dumplings.
  4. Add tomato sauce to a baking dish. Top with eggplant dumplings. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with a yogurt sauce.

Spiced Yogurt Potatoes

Spiced Yogurt Potatoes


2 pounds sliced potatoes, boiled quickly and chilled
12 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 teaspoons paprika ( I love Hungarian Hot Paprika)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs
olive oil
cherry tomatoes (optional)


  1. Layer potatoes in baking dish, liberally covering with olive oil and seasoning each layer with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix together yogurt, eggs, and spices. Pour over potatoes.
  3. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until potatoes are done.

Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Yogurt Cheese Salad

Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Yogurt Cheese Salad


4 small tomatoes, chopped
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of lemon
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons mint, chopped
splash apple cider vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt cheese


Whisk together garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs, vinegar and oil. Toss with vegetables. Garnish with goat cheese.

Served with local, pastured-raised butter and homemade whole grain bread

My food philosophy is based on the support of (this is a mouthful) sustainable, locally- sourced seasonal foods and a belief that it is possible to eat this way on a budget. Yes, it takes longer but good food is worth it. Sitting around the kitchen table with my loved ones, exploring traditional recipes and pushing myself to be creative from the food I grow in my backyard  IS my definition of pleasure. This was an easy challenge for because turning seasonal produce into a simple dinner party is a way of life for me being that it is the most economical choice for my family and friends when we spend time together.

I hope others are intrigued by this challenge and find the value in community-supported food. It should be a priority in this country that all have access to fresh, sustainable and affordable real food.

Photography Credits: Aaron Webster




Powered by Facebook Comments

One Response to Slow Food USA $5 Challenge

  1. Homegrown Mama

    More proof that you can cook healthy food on a budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>