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For Starkville Daily News
From rural areas to urban communities, home and community gardens are sprouting up all over the country for the sole purpose of growing and using fresh, organic produce in home-cooked meals. The National Gardening Association indicates food gardening in the U.S. is on the rise as more Americans are recognizing the benefits of growing their own produce.
According to chef-restaurateur and â€śTop Chef Mastersâ€ť winner Rick Bayless, one doesnâ€™t need a lot of outdoor space to plant vegetables and herbs. â€śAs a chef, I love using fresh ingredients that Iâ€™ve grown myself. For city dwellers I recommend using a self-watering planter on your deck or even a small pot on a windowsill. Then as you cook, the herbs or fresh vegetables are right at hand.â€ť
When looking for organic seeds, consider companies that support sustainable, organic farming practices, such as Seeds of Change. To demonstrate their commitment, the brand contributes 1 percent of their net sales towards sustainable organic farming initiatives worldwide.
For more recipes that use home-grown organic ingredients visit www.seedsofchangefoods.com.
Grilled Chicken with Spinach, Tomatoes and Avocado Salad
1 bottle Seeds Change Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
3 to 4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle canning sauce
6 knob onions, roots and wilted outer leaves removed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from skin and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
12 ounces salad spinach, long stems removed
1/3 cup grated Mexican queso aĂ’ejo or other cheeses such as Romano or Parmesan
2 to 3 fresh limes, cut into wedges
u Dressing and the glaze: Pour vinaigrette into small bowl. Whisk in chipotles and adobo sauce. Set 1/2 cup aside to use as a glaze for chicken.
u Heat one side of a gas grill to medium (or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until coals are covered with white ash but still quite hot, then bank coals to one side.)
u Lightly brush knob onions and both sides of chicken breasts with olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Lay chicken and onions directly over the heat of the grill. Sear chicken on both sides, then brush it with reserved 1/2 cup dressing and move it away from direct heat to finish cooking, usually about 5 minutes. Set chicken aside to cool.
u Turn onions frequently, until tender and browned, about 10 minutes. Chop onions into 1-inch pieces and scoop into bowl.
u Cut each chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and add to bowl along with tomatoes and avocado. Pour on 1/2 cup dressing and mix thoroughly.
u Spoon mixture into center of six dinner plates. Toss spinach with remaining dressing and arrange it around outside of the plate. Sprinkle with queso aĂ’ejo and serve with several lime wedges on each plate for guests to squeeze on to their taste.
Recipe created exclusively for Seeds of Change by chef-restaurateur Rick Bayless.