Celeb Chefs Show You How to Fight Hunger with Grocery Money

12/23/2013 at 06:41 PM ET
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Courtesy Rachael Ray

You know what’s even more satisfying than midnight snacking once the kids are asleep? Finding a way to make that meal help people who may go hungry this year.

Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that serves 37 million Americans annually, taught us that just $1 can buy meals for 9 people in need. In order to show people how little money they need to give to make a difference, they’ve found a fun way to do the math.

They got recipes from 12 big-name chefs, including Mario Batali, Graham Elliot and Rachael Ray. Then they calculated how much it would cost to make each one. (A note about the numbers: They’re assuming you’re buying every ingredient listed, but if you’ve got staples like olive oil and spices, you’ll be able to make them for considerably less.)

It’s pretty eye-opening when you consider that the money you’d drop at the grocery store getting the ingredients for Batali’s stuffed shells would buy 450 meals. Doing the right thing has never tasted so good.

Madeleine Hill; Inset: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty

Want something festive but aren’t up for roasting a whole turkey? The Travel Channel host’s easy yet impressive boneless stuffed turkey breast is a simpler alternative. “The butchery is easier than you think, but you can always have your butcher do it for you,” he says. Before roasting, he folds the breast like an envelope around the stuffing so he can slice it crosswise later. “The chestnuts and the chicken liver in the stuffing add a great nutty flavor that pairs well with the turkey breast without overpowering the meat,” he says.

Ingredient cost: $60 (or 540 meals)*

Serves 6 to 8

For turkey:
1 whole 4 to 5 pound boneless breast of turkey (both breast lobes attached, skin on)
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
6 sage leaves, chopped fine

For stuffing:
6 cups dried bread cubes for stuffing (either homemade or store-bought)
1 cup minced celery
1 cup minced onion
2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried tarragon
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
3 tbsp. melted butter
¼ cup heavy cream
4 oz. chicken liver
12 to 14 chestnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make an incision about -inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut, and work your way almost around its circumference.

3. After slitting the shells, transfer the chestnuts to a rimmed baking pan, and roast them for about 35 minutes. While the chestnuts are hot, remove and discard each shell and the papery skin. Chop the chestnuts.

4. Mince the celery, onion and parsley together and set aside. Mince the chicken livers very fine.

5. Combine the chestnuts, celery, onion, parsley, liver, butter, cream, bread cubes and spices in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside stuffing while you prepare the turkey.

6. Place the turkey skin down on a cutting board and slice open the middle of each breast, cutting away from the center. You knife will be parallel to the cutting board, slicing toward the outer edges of the roast. (You are opening up the breast meat to even out the thickness of each breast. The new meat flaps should open up from the middle of each breast like pages of a book folding out to each side.) Season with the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.

7. Place stuffing on the breast and fold the edges of the turkey “envelope” over the stuffing. You should now have a “football” of turkey.

8. Flip to skin side up, and roll and tie turkey with butcher’s twine. Rub the turkey with butter and sprinkle with paprika and sea salt.

9. Place the turkey on a rack fitted into a large pan and roast at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Raise temperature to 400 degrees and continue roasting until internal temperature of the meat is 160 degrees. Keep an eye on your breast because may not take as long as you think. Let rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Rachael Ray

Once again the popular Food Network star proves that delicious doesn’t have to mean complicated and freshly roasted garlic and tomatoes are worth the time investment. The first ingredient in Ray’s easy pizza? EVOO, of course.

Ingredient cost: $50 (or 450 meals)*

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided equally
1 head garlic, divided
2 pints grape tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf crusty French bread, split in half lengthwise
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
¼ cup (about a handful) Italian parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the tip off the head of garlic. Place it in the middle of a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold foil up around it then transfer to the oven and roast 40-45 minutes, until the cloves are tender.

3. After the garlic has been roasting for 20 minutes, place tomatoes onto a baking sheet and toss them in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast them until they’ve softened and burst open, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Transfer the roasted tomatoes to a medium-size mixing bowl and let cool slightly. When the garlic has finished roasting, squeeze the softened cloves into the bowl of tomatoes and mash them together.

5. Once the tomatoes come out of the oven, place the French bread halves onto a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

6. Spread the tomato-roasted garlic mixture over both halves and sprinkle the cheeses evenly over both of them. Place the bread back into the oven to melt the cheese for about 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Graham Elliot; inset: Ray Tamarra/Getty

If you want to impress your holiday guests without working too hard, serve the MasterChef judge’s tasty vegetable side. Brussels sprouts and bacon are a tried-and-true combination, and Elliot’s dish gets a nice flavor boost from cider, sage and thyme.

Ingredient cost: $40 (or 360 meals)*

Serves 4

4 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
½ cup diced raw bacon
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp cider
1 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsbp. butter
salt and pepper (to taste)

1.  Heat oil in cast iron skillet. Add the bacon and slowly cook until the fat begins to render. Brown the Brussels sprouts in the bacon fat and season with salt and pepper.

2. Place the skillet in a 375 degree oven and roast uncovered for 8 minutes.

3. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and add the cider. Cook until the cider is completely reduced. Add the butter and herbs. Finish the dish with some freshly cracked pepper and crunchy sea salt.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Christine Ha; inset: Cindy Ord/Getty

The cookbook author and MasterChef champ, who inspired viewers as the show’s first legally blind contestant, has a simple recipe for this Indian takeout favorite. If you don’t feel like grilling the chicken, pan-frying will work just as well.

Ingredient cost: $30 (or 270 meals)*

Serves 4

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into chunks
1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 tsp. cumin, divided
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh peeled & minced ginger
salt to taste
2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup chopped cilantro

1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic until fragrant. Add the other two teaspoons of cumin, paprika, and salt. Then add tomato sauce and cream. Simmer until sauce thickens, approximately 20 minutes.

3. Turn grill to high heat. Skewer chicken chunks and discard marinade. Grill chicken until juices run clear, approximately five minutes on each side.

4. If not using grill, discard marinade and pan-fry chicken until cooked.

5. Add chicken to sauce mixture and simmer another 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Rocco Dispirito

“Not your grandmother’s lasagna” is how the Restaurant Divided host and cookbook author describes his lightened-up version of this comforting Italian casserole. Dispirito says he “worked hard to maintain the flavors” and his tweaks include whole-wheat lasagna noodles and zucchini instead of traditional pasta, skim milk and lean ground beef. “Now you can eat a healthy, soul-satisfying lasagna with only a fraction of the calories,” he says.

Ingredient cost: $40 (or 360 meals)*

Serves 4

½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. 96% lean ground beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 leaves fresh basil, torn into bite-size pieces
2 ½ cups tomatoes with no fat, sodium or sugar added (such as Pomi)
1 large zucchini, about 1 lb., cut length-wise into ribbons ⅛ of an inch thick (to make 8 oz. of ribbons)
1 cup skim milk
1 ½ tbsp. arrowroot
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
4 oz. organic whole-wheat no-boil lasagna, about 6 ½ sheets

1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, and once the oil is smoking, add the beef to the skillet. Brown the beef on one side about 2 minutes, then break it up with a spoon and add half the torn basil, followed by the chopped tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook about one minute. Set aside.

2. Stack the zucchini in four equal piles, place each pile on a microwave-safe plate, and cook in the microwave on high for one minute. Flip each stack over and cook on high for another minute, then set aside.

3. Add 1 tbsp. of milk to a small bowl and mix with the arrowroot. Add the remaining milk to a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the arrowroot mixture and whisk until thickened, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and add all but two tablespoons of the Parmigiano and whisk into the sauce until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4. Spoon a thin layer of Bolognese sauce onto the bottom of a microwave-safe 8 x 8 x 4-inch dish, then place two lasagna sheets over the top, pressing down on the sheets until they break and naturally fit in the bottom of the dish. Add a thin layer of Bolognese, then drizzle a thin layer of the white sauce on top. Place a third of the remaining basil leaves over that layer, then add a layer of zucchini ribbons on top. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Repeat the previous layering sequence. Fill in any bare spots with a half a sheet of pasta, breaking into pieces where necessary.

6. Place the last two remaining lasagna sheets on top and spoon the remaining Bolognese over that; then cover with a final layer of zucchini and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Top with the remaining white sauce, then sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano over the entire surface.

8. Tightly cover the dish with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave on high until the pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and broil until brown, about 1 minute. Remove the lasagna from the broiler and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 4 equal pieces.

From Now Eat This! Italian: Favorite Dishes from the Real Mamas of Italy

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Miki Duisterhof; inset: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Lee, who’s hosting the Food Network’s new show The Kitchen, developed a traditional, slow-cooked pot roast made with carrots, leeks, onions and mushrooms. Once you’ve prepped everything this low-maintenance dish basically cooks itself, but since it takes nearly four hours, it’s ideal for a chilly day when you’d rather be inside.

Ingredient cost: $70 (or 630 meals)*

Serves 6 to 8

One 4 to 5 lb. chuck roast, tied
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsps. plus ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
4 large carrots, split lengthwise and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
2 large leeks, light green and white parts, sliced
2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
2 whole peeled garlic cloves
1 cup red wine
1 quart beef broth
2 tbsp. tomato paste

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Season all sides of chuck roast with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoonsblack pepper. Dredge in flour.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the roast from the Dutch oven and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, tomato paste, and the remaining salt and pepper.

5. Place the roast in the center of the Dutch oven and nestle it in the broth and vegetables. Bring the liquid to a low boil. Cover and put in the oven.

6. Cook for 3 to 3½ hours, until the beef is fork tender. Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the strings. Slice and serve over buttered egg noodles. Spoon the pan juices and vegetables over the beef and noodles, if desired. Serve immediately.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Art Smith

Trying to get more spinach into your kiddos? The restauranteur and Top Chef Masters contestant suggests this healthy egg-based dish. “It’s creamy, cheesy, and soft, so kids love it, but it’s also fancy enough to serve with a roast chicken, grilled steak or lamb chops at a dinner party,” he says.

Ingredient cost: $30 (or 270 meals)*

Serves 6

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped yellow onion
Two 10-ounce packages frozen or canned chopped spinach, thawed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup nonfat sour cream
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. ground paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent.

3. Drain and squeeze any excess liquid from the spinach. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked onions, eggs, egg whites, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, flour, and paprika to the spinach. Mix until fully combined. Season with salt.

4. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray and spoon the spinach mixture into the dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

5. Cut the custard into 6 slices and serve warm.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Gabriele Corcos; inset: Cindy Ord/Getty

The Tuscan-born chef and musician is married to actress Debi Mazar, and together they host the show Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. These simple muffins have a light, lemony flavor and work just as well for breakfast as they do as an addition to a holiday dinner bread basket.

Ingredient cost: $35 (or 315 meals)*

Makes 12 muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, olive oil, and honey. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet to the dry. Stir until just combined.

4. Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the batter among the liners. Bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool before serving.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Curtis Stone

Cassoulet, a slow-cooked French dish from southwestern France, is usually made with duck. The Top Chef Masters host has developed a healthier version by using chicken (and trimming the fat), low sodium broth, and just four slices of bacon for the entire dish. “There are few recipes that are better suited for warming you up on a cold night than cassoulet,” he says.

Ingredient cost: $70 (or 630 meals)*

Serves 4

4 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks; about 10 ounces each), excess fat removed
2 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 carrot, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
One 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Coat the chicken legs with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the legs on a large heavy rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown and barely pink at the bone when pierced with the tip of a small sharp knife and much of their fat has been rendered. Remove from the oven; leave the oven on.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until crisp. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the fennel and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and ground fennel seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the broth and beans.

4. Transfer the bean mixture to a 13 × 9 ×2-inch baking dish. Nestle the chicken legs in the beans. In a small bowl, mix the panko and Parmesan cheese to blend. Sprinkle most of the panko mixture over the beans (don’t worry if the juices are soaked up by some of the crumbs) and the remainder over the chicken.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the bean mixture is bubbling all over and the panko topping is crisp and golden brown. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Angela B. Garbot; inset: Alex Martinez

The Top Chef All-Star finalist, who judges the Dish Up the Love recipe contest that benefits Feeding America, has made this kid-friendly Italian-American staple every Thanksgiving and Christmas since she was a little girl. “My mother would set up a little assembly line of ingredients, and I’d do the work. I loved the job. Working with the rice was like playing with Silly Putty,” she says.

Ingredient cost: $40 (or 360 meals)*

Makes 15 to 18 balls

1 cup arborio rice (risotto rice)
2 cups water
1 tbsp. salt
2 egg yolks
2 cups grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups dried plain bread crumbs
1 ½ cups cubed firm whole-milk mozzarella cheese

1. In medium pot, combine the rice, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the rice cook for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.

2. When the rice is done, spread it out on a baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to move the rice around, allowing the steam to escape and the rice to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Add the egg and cheese mixture, parsley, basil and sun-dried tomatoes to the cooled rice. Use a rubber spatula to incorporate these ingredients. It will be very sticky. Put the bread crumbs in a medium bowl.

4. In a 4-quart pot, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees F, verifying the temperature with a candy thermometer. Set up the baking sheet of rice next to the mozzarella cheese and bread crumbs. (Let the kids roll the balls and parents handle the frying!)

5. Use a 2-ounce ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measuring cup to portion out the rice. Roll 1 scoop in wet hands to shape it into a ball. Push two cubes of mozzarella cheese into the center of the ball.

6. Reshape the rice to close the ball around the cheese. Coat each ball with bread crumbs and set on a plate until ready to fry.

7. Fry 4 or 5 rice balls at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and set to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce.

Cook’s note: Don’t buy the semisoft fresh mozzarella you often see in the store. Purchase firm mozzarella cheese in a block and cut it into cubes.

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Quentin Bacon; inset: Andrew H. Walker/Getty

“I like to kick off my holiday dinners with this divine salad, it’s hearty and festive, and provides a fresh contrast to the other holiday fare,” says nutritionist and cookbook author Krieger. What makes the dish work is its bold flavor mix of different ingredients like tart green apple, sweet cranberries, bitter chicory and pungent blue cheese.

Ingredient cost: $40 (or 360 meals)*

Serves 4

1 large bunch chicory (about 10 ounces)
½ large green apple
2 oz. blue cheese, such as Roquefort (⅓ cup crumbled)
⅓ cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim the chicory leaves, then chop them and place in a large bowl. Core the apple, then slice it thinly, cut the slices into ¾-inch pieces, and place in the bowl. Crumble the cheese into the bowl and add the cranberries.

2. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

From Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

Courtesy Mario Batali; inset: Craig Sjodin

Conchiglie ripieni dei resti is the Italian name for the superstar chef’s pasta dish. “‘Resti’ just refers to any leftover meat or fish you may have on hand—you can easily substitute any protein that you have in the fridge at the time for the turkey,” Batali says.

Ingredient cost: $50 (or 450 meals)*

Serves 6

1 lb. largest shell shaped pasta for stuffing
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups leftover turkey chopped in the food processor, preferably from the legs and thighs
1 cup ricotta
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus 1/4 cup
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups spicy tomato sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Bring 8 quarts of water to the boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Drop the shells into the water and cook until three minutes short of the suggested cooking time, then drain them in a colander and shock them in ice water until very cold. Place in a colander lined with paper towels to dry and rest. Meanwhile, mix the potatoes, chopped turkey, ricotta and half a cup Parmigiano in a bowl until homogeneous.

3. Grease a 10 x 12-inch baking dish with the olive oil and set aside. Carefully stuff each shell with two to three tablespoons of the turkey-potato mixture and lay each one open side up in the baking dish, next to one another but not too crowded. Spoon a good tablespoon of the tomato sauce over each shell and then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over all.

4. Bake in the oven until very hot and fairly dry on the top, about 40 minutes. Remove and serve.

—Lexi Dwyer

*Based on the calculation that $1 buys 9 meals

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