Things I miss about living in Virginia: TRADER JOE’S. For all you noobs out there, Trader Joe’s is basically the most adorable little grocery store there ever was, and they carry their own line of everything-fresh food, coffee, prepackaged foods, and even booze. Trader Joe’s was the cream of the crop grocery store in town where Will and I went to undergrad, with its only competitor being Bloom (do those still exist)? But Trader Joe’s is like a little local grocery store that just happens to be a national chain. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place. My personal favorite Trader Joe’s items are their cat cookies, candy cane Joe-Joe’s and their wine selection from Santa Barbara.
Anyways, that Trader Joe’s tangent had to happen because in Tallahassee we don’t have one…yet! And this recipe originally calls for a Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend, which I’m sure would have been lovely. I can’t wait to try it someday when we live near Trader Joe’s again! However, this recipe was still possible even with the lack of Trader Joe’s in our lives. We determined that the Harvest Grains Blend involved quinoa (I believe red quinoa), Israeli couscous, baby chickpeas and orzo. We decided to forgo the orzo, use regular-size garbanzo beans, and use a tri-color couscous because it was less costly than the red quinoa. Either way, the combination of the couscous, quinoa, and chickpeas turned out to be a really good idea. Like, a really really good idea. We’ve done lunch salads before where we’ve used either couscous, quinoa, or garbanzo beans individually, but combining them was genius. It added so much more substance to the salad! The spinach really just tops everything off and adds that pop of color (and flavor) that is needed. We highly reccomend this for lunch and suggest crumbling some feta over top as well 🙂
Cooking Notes: We obviously didn’t have the Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s that the recipe called for, so we improvised our own, which is reflected below.
Spinach and Israeli Couscous Salad (adapted from Greatist; serves 4-6)
1 cup garbanzo beans (or 1 15-oz. can)
1/3 cup tri-color quinoa
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
8 oz. spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil, then add Israeli couscous. Cover and remove from heat, letting sit for 5 minutes. Once couscous is cooked, dispense into a large container to cool. In the same pot, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil. While waiting for water to boil, measure 1/3 cup tri-color quinoa and rinse in a mesh strainer. Dry the quinoa and toast in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Cook and stir for about 1 minute, until water evaporates. By this point, the water should be boiling, so add the quinoa and bring back to a boil. Lower heat and cook covered for 15 minutes. Once it is done, let is stand, remaining covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing!
When ready, pour quinoa into container with couscous. Add garbanzo beans and stir together, sprinkling in some salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Drop in the fresh spinach and saute until wilted. Once it is ready, add it to the container with the beans/quinoa/couscous! Add any additional S&P, to taste.