Anyone can make delicious recipes using costly, rarefied ingredients. But my greatest inspiration comes from transforming humble foods into enticing meals. Using a bit of ingenuity, I created these budget-friendly dishes, each with an unexpected "grace note" that makes the recipe feel celebratory despite the no-frills approach and simple preparation.
Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine is a great example of a simple recipe transcending the sum of its parts. Commonplace cauliflower is roasted into addictive nuggets, while a touch of garlic and sunny citrus tie the flavors together. Good Parmigiano-Reggiano is expensive, but just a couple ounces make a big flavor statement. Serve with a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes.
Simple chicken and rice get an Asian transformation with soy, scallions, rice wine, and healthy faux-fried rice, enhanced with the last of summer's fresh corn and a profusion of fragrant basil. Chicken thighs are less expensive and more flavorful than breast meat, so they anchor the dish. A bowl of miso soup would make a delicious beginning to this late-summer meal.