Before you read any further, I want to make sure you know that if you don’t want to make heart shaped beets, you can still make this Roasted Beets and Sweets Quinoa Salad! I don’t want anyone to get intimidated by seeing the Valentine’s Day inspired beets in the photo and thinking they will never make this salad because of them.
I WILL show you in the photos and explain in the recipe how to make those heart-shaped beets (it’s not actually that hard!). If that seems way too fussy for you though, don’t even worry because I put alternate directions in the recipe. There, now that that is explained, let me tell you why I created this recipe!
When you go to a restaurant and eat something really amazing, are you someone who wants to try to recreate the dish in your own kitchen or do you not even attempt it, thinking it will be difficult to do? Or, maybe you feel that the reason you enjoyed the dish so much was not only because of what the food tasted like but was also due to the environment you were in and the people you were with at the restaurant. In that case, it would be harder to recreate that feeling at home.
I can see both sides of the debate with this and definitely agree that eating something fabulous in a restaurant often has a lot to do with the environment and the people you’re with in addition to the food itself. It all works together, right?
For me, it’s a super fun challenge to try to nail down a recipe for a really great dish that I ate in a restaurant. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes there is just something missing that I can’t put my finger on, but either way, it’s fun to try.
What inspired this recipe?
A while back I met some of my friends at one of my favorite local lunch spots. The name is La Mie, and it’s known for its sandwiches, salads, tartines (aka: open face sandwich), and soups. But, the minute you walk in the door, you’re met with a ginormous table topped with platter after platter (with some of them raised to allow for more surface area) of French style sweet and savory pastries. It’s a glorious site, and they taste as good as they look!
Anyway, that particular day I ordered a salad that had greens, quinoa, beets, sweet potatoes, goat cheese, and walnuts. I swapped out the cheese and nuts for some cooked chicken since I avoid dairy and don’t care for walnuts. It was delicious, filling and was definitely something I wanted to try to make at home. I set to work and am really happy with the results!
The beets on my salad at the restaurant were not heart-shaped, but since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I thought this would be a fun way to make this salad a bit more festive. Because there are several parts to this salad and because the beets take a while to cook, plan to make this on a day you have more time to cook. Most of the steps come together quickly, but a few of the steps have longer cooking times, which means this is not a salad you can whip up on a busy weeknight! I have given you make-ahead tips, which will help if you’re making this for a dinner party and don’t want to be prepping everything at the last minute.
P.S. Love quinoa salads? Check out the following two recipes for more quinoa salad goodness!
Roasted Beets and Sweets Quinoa Salad How-To Photos:
Roasted Beets and Sweets Quinoa Salad
- 3 medium red beets* about 1 ¾ pounds total, scrubbed
- 1/3 cup slivered red onion
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/3 cup dry quinoa rinsed and drained
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 medium sweet potato about 12 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh baby arugula
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh mixed baby lettuce or spring mix
- Freshly ground black pepper optional
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon coarse mustard
- 1 tablespoon vinegar drained from the onions
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Scrub beets with a vegetable brush. Wrap each beet separately in foil, making sure the beet is completely wrapped in foil. Set beets in a small baking pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until beets are almost tender (pull back the foil and insert a small sharp knife into the beet – you should be able to insert the knife into the center of the beet easily but with a little resistance). Set beets on a wire rack to cool (still wrapped in the foil).
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine onion, vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Press down on onions to get them as covered with vinegar as possible. Cover; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or chill up to 3 days.
- In a small saucepan combine quinoa, water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, over for 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool completely.
- When beets are cool enough to handle, use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin. (Note: do this over the sink and use a slow flow of water to help rinse off the skin as you peel them. Also, to avoid staining your hands, wear clean plastic gloves.)
- Trim off the bottom and a small slice from the top of each beet; discard. Cut beets crosswise into four slices (about ½-inch thick each). Lay slices flat on the cutting board. Use a 2- to 2 ½-inch heart shaped cookie cutter to cut a heart from each beet slice. Arrange beet hearts in a single layer on one side of a foil-lined half-sheet pan (18x13x1-inch size). Save scraps from beet slices for another use**. Set pan with beets aside.
- Peel sweet potato. Cut potato crosswise in half; cut each half the long way into ½-inch thick slices. Cut those slices the long way into ½-inch thick strips. You will end up with pieces that look like large French fries. Arrange sweet potato strips in a single layer on the other half of the sheet pan with beets. Drizzle beets and potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss potatoes to fully coat with the oil; arrange back to the single layer. Turn beets so they are coated with the oil.
- Roast beets and potatoes in the 425°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until beets are completely tender and potatoes are just tender and starting to brown, stirring potatoes once halfway through roasting (no need to turn beets).
- Drain onions, reserving the drained vinegar. Set onions aside. In a large bowl toss together cooled quinoa, arugula, and lettuce. Set aside.
- For the Dressing, in a small screw-top jar*** combine ¼ cup oil, the orange juice, mustard, 1 tablespoon of the vinegar drained off the onions, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover; shake well. Add ¼ cup of the dressing to the quinoa mixture; toss gently to coat.
- To serve, arrange quinoa mixture on a serving platter. Top with roasted beets and potatoes. Top with drained onion. If desired, sprinkle with fresh pepper. Serve with remaining dressing.