Budget-Friendly Gourmet Delights

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Chef and cooking school teacher, Chef Mel Alafaci, is sharing her secret recipes for preparing delicious and impressive meals without breaking the bank. These budget-friendly dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy gourmet flavors without spending a fortune. Chef Mel’s culinary expertise and innovative techniques make it possible to create stunning meals without compromising on taste or quality.

Quickie Tuna Salad Stack:

  • 1 tin of drained tuna
  • 1 cup of diced red onion
  • 1 cup of diced apple
  • 100ml of mayo or plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of grainy mustard
  • 1 tin of drained chickpeas or butter beans
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 packet of rocket
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO) to dress the leaves


  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients (except the greens, glaze, and oil) and season to taste.
  2. Use a stacking ring to neatly arrange the tuna salad in the middle of a plate.
  3. Add rocket leaves around the stack or place them on top.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and fresh EVO.
  5. Enjoy!

Ultimate Broccoli Stack:


  • 200g of smoked or cooked chicken breast filets, thinly sliced (alternatively, use smoked salmon, rare roast beef, or tinned tuna)
  • 50ml to 100ml of plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped mint and/or basil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely sliced
  • Half a cup of julienned fennel (or use shredded cabbage)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped broccoli
  • Lots of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of grainy or Dijon mustard
  • 1 cucumber, made into ribbons using a peeler (or slightly roasted zucchini ribbons)
  • Rocket or cress for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken, yogurt, mint, fennel, and apple.
  2. Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of each plate or use a stacking ring for a neat arrangement.
  3. Wrap the filling with cucumber or zucchini ribbons to create a stack.
  4. Garnish with ground black pepper and fresh rocket or mustard cress.
  5. Drizzle with herbed oil, if desired.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Involtini:


  • 500-600g of chicken breast filets
  • 12 thinly shaved slices of Prosciutto or streaky bacon
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 80g of sliced or grated mozzarella cheese
  • 24 fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons of pesto

Involtini Quick Sauce:

  • 700g jar of passata
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • A large pinch of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes for garnish


  1. Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise and tenderize with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place 3 slices of bacon or prosciutto on a chopping board and top with a thin chicken breast, cheese, and basil leaves or pesto.
  3. Roll up the chicken to create a parcel and place it in a greased oven dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
  4. In a jar of passata, combine all the ingredients for the quick sauce and shake well.
  5. Pour the sauce around the base of the rolled chicken involtini and add a few cherry tomatoes.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic, then stir through. Drizzle with fresh EVO.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at approximately 200°C for 25-30 minutes until the bacon/prosciutto is browned and the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce if needed, then serve and enjoy!

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