Golden Beet Soup with Toasted GrainsCertain food stunts lured me into these two recipes, from the December 2014 issue of Cooking Light. One toasted amaranth as a crunchy garnish, and the other used cooked quinoa as the base for a quiche.

Beets, I’ll say, need no tricks to be wonderful. They always cook soft and sweet and take kindly to an immersion blender in a soup. The “Golden Beet Soup with Toasted Grains” takes another step with beets, pickling raw strands of Chioggias with lemon juice, sugar, and cilantro, to garnish the top of each bowl. A nice contrast.

And speaking of such, let’s talk about this toasted amaranth. Amaranth is a pre-Colombian Aztec grain, high in vitamins and protein, that can always be cooked into a fluffy heap or into a bowl of porridge. But here, it’s dry-toasted (pop, pop, pop!), giving it a fantastic crunch, to embellish the surface of the soup. Indeed, there’s little color contrast here, but I allowed it(!).

Other ingredients: the fennel, a bit of white wine. These contribute to that welcome sweetness of the beets. There’s even a hint of warmth from that bit of ground red pepper. Treat yourself to this soup.

Spinach & Feta Quiche with Quinoa CrustHere’s another good dish, if you go ahead and cook your quinoa the night before. The “Spinach and Feta Quiche with Quinoa Crust” is a fine, eggy quiche, with a nontypical crust.

In fact, I wouldn’t call the crust a crust, here. Even though it’s baked for 20 minutes before being filled, it turns out as simply a base of quinoa -- but that’s OK with me. Ask yourself: do I like quinoa and spinach and eggs and feta cheese? If yes, then do it.

PRICES:
Fennel Bulb (1) = $3.04
Golden Beets (2 lbs.) = $2.52
Chioggia Beets (.42 lb.) = .59¢

PREP TIMES: fennel and garlic need 20 minutes to cook, then the beets need another hour; cook the quinoa for 35 minutes (the night before), bake the crust for 20 minutes, bake the quiche for 35 minutes
TASTES:
sweet fennel and beets, topped with a surprise of pickled Chioggias and crispy amaranth; reliable quinoa sits below an eggy, cheesy spinach quiche

Next time, I want to cook the “Nut-and-Seed-Crusted Sausage Meatballs with Mustard Sauce,” from the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine. See what happens when you come back to my site next week.