Quinoa salads are a basic food for me because Quinoa is a great plant-based protein source, and it's gluten-free. Beets are kind of a polarizing food. At first bite, the experience is usually either, "Oh yum!" or "Oh yuck!" And beet juice makes everything look like a bloody mess, which for me is actually cool because I like to use the juice to make dishes a deep red color.
My first beet experience fell into the, "Oh yuck!" category. I thought the beets tasted like mushy dirt. As it turns out, those beets were from a can and boiled to death. But, everything changed when I tried fresh roasted beets. A happy dance ensued. Roasting vegetables just makes everything sunshine and roses in my book like caramelized cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
One of the best ways to ease into a new food like beets or Quinoa is to make that food an ingredient, a supporting player, to blend in a bigger dish like in this very easy Quinoa salad versus making the food the star of the show.
I love this Quinoa dish because it's very simple to make with minimal cooking, and you can have fun with it by trading out some of the ingredients. I used chopped ramps aka wild leeks in this recipe because they are in season, and add a beautiful subtle garlic flavor to the dish. Instead of ramps, you use a leafy green or herb in season like chopped arugula, kale, chard, green onions, or chives. Get creative!
Besides being packed with nutrients and protein from the Quinoa, this dish is gluten-free, vegan, and GMO-free. I'd even eat this stuff for breakfast. It's so good.
Ingredients (2-3 servings):
- 2 cups of cooked Quinoa
- 1/2 cup pureed cooked beets*
- 12 cherry tomatoes cut in halves or thirds
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1 tbsp chopped ramps bulb
- 1/2 cup chopped ramps leaves
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
*For the pureed beets. I used packaged freshly cooked organic beets from Love Beets.I found them at Costco. Another favorite pre-cooked beets brand found in many grocery stores including Walmart is Melissa's Peeled Baby Red Beets. For 1/2 cup pureed beets, put 2 whole beets and 1 tbsp of water in a food processor and blend until slightly chunky.
In a large mixing bowl add in the Quinoa, pureed beets, chopped ramps bulb, chopped onions, and sea salt. Mix everything together until the Quinoa turns a nice red color.
Add in the chopped cherry tomatoes and ramp leaves, and mix nicely together.