Just Add Water

Just Add Water

Frankie Celenza

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There's no easier way to save a few bucks than by buying dry. Beans and barley can be turned into a week's worth of chicken chili, salad or mushroom risotto with this important, and free, ingredient — water.

White Bean Chili


serving time8


  • 2 tablespoons oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft.

  2. Stir in cumin, stock, and water.

  3. Add beans and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  4. In the last 1/2 hour of cooking, stir in squash and chicken.

Barley Risotto


serving time2


  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 1/2 onion, diced

  • 5 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 2 sage leaves, chopped

  • 1/2 cup barley


  1. Heat butter in a sauce pot. In a separate sauce pot, heat the chicken stock.

  2. To the pot with the butter, add onion, mushrooms, and garlic, and cook until soft.

  3. Stir in sage and barley.

  4. Add one cup of stock and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

  5. Continue adding stock 1/4 cup at a time, allowing each amount of liquid to absorb before adding more.

  6. Continue until all the stock is used and barley is done cooking, about 35 minutes.

Barley Salad


serving time6


  • 1/2 butternut squash, cut into small cubes

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

  • 3/4 pound barley

  • 1 lemon

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 2 shallots, minced

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/4 bunch of parsley, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon oil and spread on a baking sheet.

  3. Bake for 20 minutes until soft.

  4. Cook barley in salted, boiling water for 25 minutes. Drain well and pour into a large bowl.

  5. Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon and cumin.

  6. Toss with roasted squash, shallots and barley.

  7. Garnish with parsley.



Facebook Comments


- If you buy in dry bulk, you can have 10 times the amount of of a restaurant for a minimal investment and have a dish that will totally win over whoever it is that you're trying to win over and haven't won over yet. Life can be a struggle but a good meal does not have to be. We can make creative, nutritious and inventive dishes for under two dollars a plate. You might think that canned food is cheaper. But it aint. Buying in dry bulk is significantly cheaper. It lasts way longer. Now if you're thinking to yourself, I don't know how to cook lentils. You know that phone in your pocket? It's a portal into all of mankind's knowledge including every recipe ever. We have white beans right here and we're gonna make chili with this and it's gonna be delicious and it's gonna last all week. But before we can make it, we need to add water and let them soak overnight. Guys, any good chili starts with a sofrita, which is that onion, garlic base. Wow that is a hot pan. 39 cents in the onion. The onion makes you cry because its the onion's self defense mechanism so that you won't eat it. Once you see a little bit of color on those onions where they start to turn little bit clear, you can come in with garlic. The chili is a really great thing to make with beans because the beans are gonna cook in the chili. All we had to do was soak them. Here we go. One of the main reasons that buying a dry ingredient has a better value is because these double in weight when we add the water. The canned ones already have that water weight factored in. Herbs, 65 cents of cumin, 52 cents of oregano. Now you come in with some chicken stock. If you broke down a whole chicken, you could make this on your own. Now I'm gonna let this cook for an hour and a half. And now because these beans are so cheap, we can use premium ingredients to supplement our chili. Like butternut squash, and chicken. Allow this to come to a light simmer. Cook it for another half hour and you're good. Man, that smells delicious. This is how much chili we're getting out of this recipe. It's a dollar, twelve per serving. That's cheap and we got food for the week. We are gonna make a barley salad. It's super duper cost effective. We started with 98 cents of barley, which I just soaked in water and then boiled. Our most expensive ingredient is butternut squash. All I did was roast it in the oven with olive oil and salt until that color happened. We've got 38 cents for a shallot. They're gonna add some nice fresh texture to the dish. Dried cranberries. Hoo! Talk about a candy flavor. 22 cents of parsley, hand tear it in. Stems and all. I like to go light on the cumin. This just gives you this warmth and this exotic texture. Fifty cents on a lemon. Oh my goodness. You've gotta have the acidity in here. It's the whole game. It can't be barley salad if you don't have a dressing. Here comes the oil of olive. Now, you've got to salt it. You just do. It's amazing what lemon, olive oil, and salt can do to pretty much anything. Mm. Super nice. With this barley salad, you get six days of food or six servings. It's a dollar sixteen per serving. It's really cheap. And now, the piece de resistance. The pennies from your piggy bank, a few key ingredients are really all we need to make barley mushroom risotto. And honestly, it's better than risotto, risotto, mushroom risotto this is better. You come in with butter. Oh! Onion. Garlic. Penny of salt. A dollar fifteen in mushrooms. Sage. it gives you that deep, dark, forest taste. Which is where the mushrooms come from. 64 cents in barley. For 64 cents, we literally make something that is fit for nobility. Or someone who's late for student loan payments. I see no discrimination in dishes of food. We're just gonna put a little bit of stock in here, alright? Just cover the barley. We are allowing these barley to absorb the stock and then we introduce more. And we just keep doing these steps over and over again. This is gonna take 35 minutes to cook. The kitchen smells wonderful. This is, this is, I don't even have words. It's creamy. Holy barley. A dollar 94. This would be a $28 entree in a northern Italian restaurant. I kid you not. It's really surprising how much quantity you can have by buying in dry bulk. I think you're gonna be fed very well this week. And I'll see you next time.

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