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To paraphrase the blog of one of my personal heroes, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, it’s a good idea to try to be nimble and light when the times are dicey.  And I happen to agree that high holiday season is the first world exemplification of ‘dicey.’  Being busy with work and trying to do the bare minimum of holiday festivities, my fridge is a strange place full of strange odds and ends.  The two things that needed to get used up were a bunch of guacamole and half a roasted eggplant, and so this strange dinner was brought into the world.

It's a meta-mezze platter...

It’s a meta-mezze platter…

The more I thought of it, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines aren’t so far apart.  Both use lots of happy chilis, cumin and citrus.  It all came together pretty well.

Chili Lime Babaghanoush – served with garlic toasts

Makes 1 – 2 cups – serves 4 as an appetizer, cost approx $.59 per serving


  • 1/2 roasted eggplant, flesh scooped out of the skin ($1)
  • 1/2 cup tahini ($.50)
  • 2-4 tbs olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs chili powder, to taste
  • 1 lime’s juice ($.25)
  • toasts rubbed with garlic ($.25)
  • sliced scallions, for garnish ($.12)

Give everything in the first list a whirl in a food processor or blender.  Taste and adjust for seasonings.  Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and sliced scallions.


Jalapeno Falafel

Serves 4 – cost approx $.69 per serving


  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided use ($.50)
  • 1/2 red onion, minced ($.25)
  • 1 – 2 jalapenos, diced – use more or less, seeds or no seeds depending on the level of heat you want ($.50)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, from 1 cup dry beans – you can totally use canned beans here ($.60)
  • 1 egg ($.15)
  • 1/4 cup tanini ($.25)
  • 1 lime’s juice ($.25)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, divided use ($.25)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs ($0 if home made!)

Start off by sauteeing the onion and jalapenos in a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Blend up the chickpeas, egg, tahini, lime juice, salt and the cilantro stems (yes, they’re totally edible and just as tasty, just not as pretty.)  Stir in the sauteed onions and jalapenos and the bread crumbs.


Make patties and pan fry them in the remaining oil.  Serve with rice or flat bread to round out the meal and maybe some guacamole too. ($.50 for rice and $2 for guac) Garnish your plates with the reserved cilantro leaves.


All together, this meal cost me just $1.90 per serving!