Dinner Party for 4 for less than $30

Lately, it’s been my mission to show that you can cook gourmet food that’s healthy, affordable and moderately easy.  This past weekend, I served the following menu:

$5 -Toasted Goat Cheese Crostini with truffled honey raspberries

$18- Pork Chops with Grilled Peach and Apple Salsa

$4-Wheat Berry Salad with roasted shallots, radicchio and kale

$3- Caramel Pecan Apple Bites

Although the menu sounds complicated, it’s simple and took less than 1 hour to prep and only minutes to cook.   How did I do it?  Detailed prep work and the cooking order were crucial.

The longest thing to cook was the wheat berries.  If you are unfamiliar with wheat berries, try them out.  The large rice like texture gives a great bite to a fall salad. 

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Shallots, Radicchio and Kale:

1 cup dried wheat berries

Small radicchio cut in quarters

2 large shallots cut in ½

4 medium Tuscan kale leaves sliced ¼ inch thick

4 cups water

For the Vinaigrette:

¼ cup Cinder Vinegar

1 TBs Dijon mustard

1 crushed garlic clove

½ cup Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Start by placing the wheat berries in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, simmer for 1 hour.  While the wheat berries are cooking, heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place radicchio and shallots on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Then place in the oven for 30 minutes.

While everything is cooking, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.  Taste, taste, taste to make sure you like the mix of the ingredients and the acidity of the dressing.  It will be put on the wheat berries so it might be a little stronger by itself. 

Slice up the radicchio in ribbons about ¼ inch thick.  Chop roasted shallots.

Place the kale in a large serving bowl. The kale does not need to be cooked because the heat from the cooked wheat berries will wilt it.  Then add the cooked wheat berries, radicchio, shallots and vinaigrette.  Mix gently and taste to make sure you have enough salt and pepper. 

The great thing about this side/salad is that you can let it sit at room temperature or serve it right away. 

Try a wheat berry today and let me know what you think!

Toasted Goat Cheese Crostini with truffled honey raspberries:

I’ve been a bit obsessed with truffled honey.  If you are not familiar with the earthy flavor punch of truffle, then this is a perfect little bit to introduce sweet and savory to you and your family’s pallet. 

1 French baguette, cut into ¼ inch slices

1 4 oz goat cheese log

¼ cup 2% Greek yogurt

2 TBs honey

1/2 tsp truffle oil

12-15 raspberries

2 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked

When planning an app for a party, I usually count 2-3 bites per person, especially if it’s the only app.  For 4 people, I used about ¾ of the baguette.  You can also freeze any sliced crostini for later use.

Lightly toast the sliced baguette.  While the bread is toasting, mix the Greek yogurt and goat cheese until smooth like cream cheese.  In a separate bowl, mix honey and truffle oil and keep at room temperature.

While the crostini are still warm, spread on goat cheese mixture, top with raspberry, drizzle the truffled honey on top and top with a sprinkle of fresh thyme.  Pop the honey mixture in the microwave if the honey stiffened up.

If you are not a fan of goat cheese, you can also use ricotta cheese as a substitute.

Not only was this a great bite, it was family friendly, inexpensive and eye appealing. A great appetizer for the holidays!

Pork Chops with Peach and Apple Salsa:

4 bone in Pork Chops

1 large peach, sliced in 1/2

1 large apple, cored and sliced in 1/2

1 small jalapeño, chopped

Juice and zest of one small lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

½ cup of celery leaves

First, start by drizzling olive oil over the pork chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper let rest.  If you plan on cooking the wheat berry salad recipe above, roast the apple with the shallots.  If not, roast apple at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

Heat the grill to high.  Once heated, place the peach on the grill.  Turn the heat down to medium and grill the pork chops, 5 minutes on each side.  After five minutes, remove peach to start the salsa. 

For the salsa, chop the roasted apple and grilled peach and place in a bowl.  Add jalapeno, lime juice, zest, a drizzle of olive oil and salt. 

Once pork chops are done, set aside and let rest while you get the rest of your meal ready.  Add salsa to the top of the pork chops and top with celery leaves.   Serve with wheat berry salad and a veggie of your choice. 

Caramel Pecan Apple Bites:

This very simple dessert was a great ending to the meal. 

2 large apples, sliced

2 tsp caramel, melted

Toasted pecans, chopped

Kosher salt to taste

Place sliced apples on plate, top with melted caramel, pecans and sprinkle with salt. This is one of my all time favorite desserts and it requires no baking.  In less than 5 minutes and $3 later you’ve got yourself a sweet tooth satisfier!

The guests loved this meal and we all agreed that if timed right, it could even be a quick mid-week meal a whole family would love.  Enjoy eating 2gether!