The recipe for “Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens,” from the February 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times, easily enticed me with its use of kasha, beans, and kale. As I’ve mentioned before, kasha is roasted buckwheat groats: it’s toasty, nutty, and somewhat slimier than barley or wheat berries. My young child loves it, and that’s a good thing. This soup was very thick (like a stew). Kasha’s wonderful nuttiness was great combined with the kale.

So how does one get 1 1/2 cups cooked kasha for this recipe? Here’s what I did: I “toasted” approximately 1/3 cup dry kasha in a nonstick skillet with approximately 1/3 egg for 3 minutes. I then added 3/4 cup boiling salted water and a small pat of butter. I simmered this for 12 minutes, then let it stand for 5 minutes. And there it was: 1 1/2 cups cooked kasha.

I used purple kale, because it looked so lovely at my food coop. I simmered it for 20 minutes. Pureeing a portion of the beans was such a wild trick -- I’ll call it a great vegetarian tactic. Texture and taste. I (and my young child) wouldn’t have minded having even more whole beans floating around in this thick soup. I’m sure more can be thrown in without a problem. At the end, I added 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. This soup delivers its “hearty” promise; I recommend it.

Now, take a look at this lovely “Savory Pumpkin Quiche,” from the October 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times. Knowing I had pureed pumpkin in my freezer from the last pumpkin season, I assembled this simple quiche. Using a frozen prepared pie crust is such an easy way to make an elegant presentation. This was a modest quiche, eggy and custardy. Of course, any excuse to use gruyère cheese is a good one.

PRICES
Canned Kidney Beans (15 oz.) = $1.12

RECIPES: a thick superstar soup shows off the best qualities of kasha, kale, and kidney beans; a pleasant pumpkin quiche provides a quiet backdrop
PREP TIMES: eat this meal after a combined 90 minutes of cooking and prep
TASTES: the nuttiness of kasha and the great green bite of kale are massaged by pureed beans and the pungency of tomatoes and vinegar; there’s nothing to dislike about a savory pumpkin custard

Next time, I will cook “Chicken in Coconut Milk,” from thekitchn.com, along with “Quinoa Pilaf with Red and Yellow Peppers,” from The Professional Chef’s Techniques of Healthy Cooking, by the Culinary Institute of America. Come back to my site on Monday, May 3, to see my meal.