Let’s talk about grocery stores!
Last semester, we did a case in business school that looked at ALDI, a global discount grocery store that earned its business case thanks to its uber-efficient operations and interesting strategic growth. So when Bon Appetit reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in participating in ALDI’s blogger challenge to create a meal for $10 using only ALDI ingredients, I was probably more excited than I should be to finally check out this superhuman equivalent of a grocery store.
It was pretty much everything I expected–trim, minimalist, efficient–but also WAY cheaper than I expected. My favorite gourmet trail mix was $5! Organic black beans for under a dollar! Wild-caught salmon fillets for $3.89! I loved that they don’t have any bags in store (you have to bring your own or buy their reusable ones) and that they require you to put in a $0.25 deposit to get a shopping cart. The whole idea behind ALDI is cutting out all extraneous costs to lower consumer prices, so the shopping cart deposit, for example, helps keep costs low by eliminating time spent retrieving carts.
This flatbread was inspired by (1) their organic quinoa (only $3.99!) and (2) this no-bake summer quinoa pizza, except this flatbread is decidedly more fall in its garlic butter mushrooms + zucchini toppings. But you can dress it up however you like–I imagine this could be a really fun family meal if you cooked up individual flatbreads and let everyone add their toppings of choice. Using white quinoa instead of red quinoa (called for in the summer quinoa pizza) makes for a softer, doughier “crust,” which is why I’m calling this a flatbread instead of a pizza. Either way, it’s a delicious, super economical way to get a boatload of nutrients into your meal!
Here’s what I bought at ALDI to make this meal (assuming you have olive oil and spices in your pantry):
Organic quinoa (16 oz): $3.99
Zucchini (pack of 2): $1.59
1 container white mushrooms: $0.69
1 can Great Northern Beans: $0.59
Garlic (bundle of 3 heads): $1.12
Butter (1 lb): $2.99
Total, the ingredients add up to $10.97, but if you only count the portions of each item that you’ll use in the recipe, the total comes out to more like $5.17! For a meal that serves four!! Talk about perfect student budget food.
PS. I’m off to Istanbul this week! Let me know if the comments if you have any suggestions for things to do there. Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is for sure on the schedule, but other than that, our itinerary is pretty open! Obviously food recs are HIGHLY encouraged as well 🙂
Vegetable Quinoa Flatbread
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 can Great Northern Beans
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon butter divided
- 2 whole zucchini squash
- 1 container mushrooms sliced
- Soak quinoa in hot water for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight.
- While quinoa is soaking, prepare the white bean puree: add the beans and half the minced garlic cloves to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
- Place 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the rest of the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and let cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. While mushrooms are cooking, use a vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini into thin ribbons. Once mushrooms are done, remove from pan, add another 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and add the zucchini along with a pinch of salt over medium-high heat. Fry for 2-3 minutes until just softened.
- Drain the quinoa, add 2/3 cup of fresh water, salt, pepper, and additional herbs if using to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Once hot, add enough quinoa batter to cover the bottom of the pan; swirl to coat. Let cook undisturbed until you can easily slide a spatula underneath and flip the flatbread over. Cook for another 3 minutes, until fully cooked.
- To assemble, spread the white bean puree on the flatbread and top with mushrooms and zucchini. Enjoy immediately!