I’m not sure when beet season is, but recently I was able to find three different types of beets in the local grocery stores: “regular” red beets, golden beets, and lovely chioggia beets. Faced with such a surplus of riches, I did what any beet lover would do–I bought them all. Then I brought them home and roasted them.
If you don’t like beets, try roasting them. Roasting brings out their sweetness and minimizes their “earthy” flavor. Combining them with something sweet, like oranges slices, and something tangy, like vinegar, also enhances beets’ flavor. And why would you want to eat them if you don’t like them? Because just as they are saturated with color, they are saturated with nutrients. They are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium, and copper. According to whfoods.com, “These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.”
Roasted beets are a great addition to any salad–just slice or chop them and add them to any green salad. But I had a craving for quinoa, and I could just imagine the slightly grassy flavor of the quinoa and the sweet earthiness of the beets. To accentuate the sweetness, I added slices of clementines; to add protein and make this a main dish salad, I included my favorite legumes, chickpeas. And I tossed it all with the simplest of dressings, a reduction made from white balsamic vinegar and and a touch of maple syrup.
I’m usually someone who loves strong, spicy flavors, so I didn’t expect to be wowed by this simple combination, but I could not get enough of it. I even made a second batch that I’ve been eating for breakfast. If you love beets, this is a “must try” and if you don’t like beets, how about giving them another chance?
Beet and Quinoa Salad with Maple-Balsamic Reduction
I find it easiest to make the separate parts of this salad–beets, quinoa, and dressing–at different times and then put them together later. I bake a bunch of beets at once so that I will have them for other uses, and I cook a double batch of quinoa when I need it for something else. That makes this dish seem less complicated to make.
- 3 large beets (about 16-20 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed very well
- 2 2/3 cup vegetable broth (or water plus veg. bouillon)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 cup chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
- 4 – 6 clementines, satsumas, or other small seedless oranges (about 1/12 cups orange sections)
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds (Optional, but good.)
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (see note)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F. (I use my toaster oven to save energy.) Wash each beet well and wrap it in aluminum foil. (You can wrap it first in parchment paper and then foil if you don’t want it coming into contact with the aluminum.) Bake for 50-60 minutes, until you can pierce a beet with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- While the beets are cooking, cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and drain well. Heat a medium-size saucepan, add the quinoa, and toast it for a few minutes until much of the liquid is evaporated. Add the vegetable broth and garlic, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff and let cool.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, trim off the top and remove the skin by holding a beet under running water and rubbing the skin with your thumbs. Use a knife to peel off any stubborn patches.
- Dice the beets. Add them and the chickpeas, clementines, green onions, and almonds to the quinoa.
- Make the balsamic reduction: Put the balsamic and maple syrup in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Continue stirring until the volume reduces by about a third–it should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. If it’s too thick to pour once cool, return it to the heat and stir in more balsamic vinegar until it’s pourable. Pour it over the salad and stir well.
- Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.
You can buy already prepared balsamic reduction if you want to save time, but it will probably be made with sugar instead of maple syrup (and more of it). Here’s one that claims not to have added sugar.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Nutrition (per serving): 253 calories, 44 calories from fat, 5.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 226.4mg sodium, 428.4mg potassium, 44.2g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 12.7g sugar, 9.5g protein. (Nutrition data includes almonds, which add 2.28g of fat and 26 calories per serving. Amount of sodium and some other nutrients depend on type of broth used.)
Live, Love, and Enjoy!
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