If you’re not already a fan of quinoa, Nava Atlas’ very satisfying recipe for “Quinoa with Chard and Chickpeas,” (recipe below), should definitely make you see the light. This is a very flavorful dish, thanks to the inclusion of ground cumin and the Spike salt-free seasoning blend. I managed to soak and cook dried chickpeas for this, which will always make a distinctive difference when using beans.

Quinoa with Chard and Chickpeas
4 to 6 servings
Try using red quinoa or a combination of regular and red quinoa, which harmonizes well with these greens and makes for a pretty dish. Use any variety of chard -- rainbow, Swiss, or, my personal favorite, green chard, which is featured in spring produce markets.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
1 natural, salt-free vegetable bouillon cube
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 to 4 cloves garlic, rinsed
1 good-sized bunch  chard or beet greens, stems removed and thinly sliced
3 to 4 scallions, sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt-free seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and bouillon cube with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. If you’d like the quinoa to be more tender, add 1/2 cup additional water and simmer until absorbed. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chickpeas and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both the chickpeas and garlic are golden.

Stir in the greens and enough water to keep the bottom of the skillet moist. Cover and cook until the greens are tender but still bright green, stirring frequently and adding more water as needed. When the greens are about halfway done, stir in the scallions.

Add the cooked quinoa and cumin and stir together with the greens. Season with salt and pepper; cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer and serve.

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I sliced 4 scallions and 3 cloves of garlic. My chard cooked perfectly -- even my young child enjoyed it. I added 1 1/2 tsp. salt and approximately 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my final dish. This recipe is a triumph and you should exult in its glories.

I also prepared the “Grated Raw Beet Salad,” from Martha Rose Shulman (recipe below), when I was charmed by the notion of not cooking my beets. Use your food processor to its full advantage. Fresh mint happens to pair perfectly with raw beets. I added 1 tsp. salt. The salad’s tangy dressing -- orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil -- carries the “weight” of the beets, along with the romaine leaves. This is just such a nice salad; even Dave liked it.

Grated Raw Beet Salad
By Martha Rose Shulman
Serves four
People who swear they hate beets love this salad. It’s a North African-inspired mixture of grated, uncooked beets dressed with orange and lemon juices and a small amount of olive oil. It makes a great starter when you’re serving something robust as a main course, like a couscous. Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.

1/2 lb. beets
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced chives, mint or parsley (or a combination)
Salt to taste
Leaves of 1 romaine heart

1. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, and grate in a food processor fitted with the shredding blade.

2. Combine the orange juice, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss with the beets and herbs. Season to taste with salt. Line a salad bowl or platter with romaine lettuce leaves, top with the grated beets and serve.

Advance preparation: The grated beets can be dressed and kept in the refrigerator, covered well, for a couple of days. They become more tender but don’t lose their texture, and the mixture becomes even sweeter as the beet juices mingle with the citrus. Toss again before serving.

PRICES
Chard (1 bunch) = $1.67
Beets (1/2 lb.) = .90¢

RECIPES: a vegetarian victory of quinoa, greens, and beans, beside an assuredly tangy, raw beet salad
PREP TIMES:
the quinoa dish needs only 30 minutes of prep and cooking; the beets come together quickly, and can then spend a forgiving amount of time in the refrigerator
TASTES: cumin and a salt-free seasoning blend are keys to very flavorful chard and quinoa; raw beets twinkle in a citrus dressing

Speaking of vegetarians … next time I will cook the “Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas,” from the September 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. See my results when you return to my site on Wednesday, September 1.