Monday, April 25, 2011

Beet & Chickpea Salad

When I'm planning menus for the week, I sometimes ask my husband and daughter for ideas.  My husband almost always says "green soup" and big sister says "spaghetti."  So, green soup it was last week.  I'm getting a little sick of having it so often but it's super nutritious and easy to make.  I was looking for a side dish to go with the green soup and since that soup has leafy greens and rice, I didn't really want a starch or a salad.  I remembered a black bean and beet salad from one of Mark Bittman's cookbooks and since I had chickpeas on hand, I came up with this variation.  It was delicious!  

There are a few foods I used to not like that I've acquired a taste for.  Mushrooms are one of them and beets are another.  I've realized it's because I associated mushrooms with cream of mushroom soup and beets with pickled beets from a can.  Now that I've discovered the real flavors, I really like both mushrooms and beets.  The other day I found already steamed, peeled beets at the grocery store and bought a package.  Trader Joes used to carry them, but like everything else good there, I can't find them anymore.  

This salad would be good over shredded red cabbage or spinach.  It could make a heartier vegetarian dish if you added some wild rice or barley. 

And, try the green soup - you'll like it!

Beet & Chickpea Salad (4 side dish servings)

1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 T diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1/3 c. red wine
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
8 oz beets, steamed or roasted and peeled (5-6 small)
1 T orange juice (fresh squeezed if possible)
1/4 c. goat cheese or feta cheese
salt and pepper

In a medium skillet, saute the bell pepper and onion in olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and saute one minute more.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  In the same skillet (now empty), add the red wine and bring to a low boil.  Let it reduce by half (around 4 minutes) - it will be syrupy.  Add to the bowl with the vegetables.  Stir in the beans and orange juice.  Chop the beets in small chunks and add to the bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can serve it immediately or refrigerate it up to 24 hours.  Top with the goat cheese or feta before serving.