As much as I hate to admit it, some of the cheapest organic produce I can find comes from Sam's Club. The reason I feel so much shame is because I've developed a relationship with the farmers at the market, and believe they deserve my business. I would have to research more, but I assume Sam's Club has a greater carbon footprint with their produce. However, they have giant tubs of organic spinach for about $4, 5 lbs. of organic baby carrots for $5, and occasionally I'll spot some other organic goods, like apples and pears. I've read that when given the choice between organic and local, it's best to choose local. Spinach is #6 on the dirty dozen list, so I feel that choosing organic is more important than local in this case. But do you ever feel like the more you learn, the more torn you are? I'm so happy there's a wealth of information available, but it leaves me wondering if I'm making the best choice.
I haven't yet read the Omnivore's dilemma, but have you? Does it touch on these issues?
I found this recipe in the July issue of bon apetit magazine, and added it to my "to-make" list right away. Not only is it vegetarian, full of protein, cool and easy, it had a very interesting twist - smoked paprika! I absolutely love the smoky, sweet and interesting flavor of smoked paprika. It's definitely one of those spices that adds so much character and depth to a dish. I especially like to sneak it in any cumin/chili powder combination recipe. I had a hard time finding it a few years ago, so I bought a pound from Penzey's. Needless to say, I try to find recipes that use it up. A pound of Smoked Paprika goes a very, very long way!
Keeping up with the in-season produce can be pretty obvious, it's what's available at the farmer's market, and what's at rock-bottom prices in the grocery store. However, if you're interested in learning more, I added a widget on the left side of the blog that shows you seasonal produce. You can use the drop down arrows to choose the state you live in, and the month you're looking for. Right now, avocados are in season here, so I added them to this dish, but kept everything else as written.
This dish was fantastic when I had it for dinner, but I have to say the leftovers were possibly better! The ingredients had time to marinade together, the spinach wilted a bit more, and the feta softened a bit and melted right into the dish.
VBS Tips and Trades:
-If you're interested in learning about the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15", go to this website, enter your email address and you can print off a small guide to take with you on your food shopping trips. I have it taped on the inside of my coupon carrier!
-If you don't have sherry vinegar on hand, try using a squeeze of lemon juice to freshen up the dish a bit more.
Quinoa, Garbanzo and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing
slightly adapted from bon appetit, July 2010
1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
2 c. water
4 c. baby spinach leaves
1 15 oz. can chick peas
1 c. cubed English cucumber
2 heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c. mint leaves, torn
1/2 c. crumbled feta
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. EVOO
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 avocado, diced
Bring water to a boil in a small stock pot, add quinoa.
Bring to a boil, turn heat to low.
Cook for 12-16 minutes, until tender, set aside to cool.
Add spinach to a large bowl, top with quinoa, toss a bit and set aside to allow warm quinoa to wilt spinach.
In a small dish, whisk together vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and paprika.
Add chick peas, cucumber, tomatoes and mint to salad, toss well to combine.
Add crumbled feta and avocado, drizzle with dressing and gently toss.
Serve at room temperature immediately, or refrigerate until serving.