14 January 2014

Roasted Beet, Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Goat Cheese & Almonds

I have an affinity for neglected vegetables.  Celery root, jicama, dragon tongue beans...whatever it may be, please pass them my way and I'll see to it that they are eaten.  My newest favorite: beets.  Pickled or roasted, greens or bulbs, I cannot get enough of this fantastic little root.  And once I accidentally discovered they keep for practically ever in the refrigerator, we've been having bi-weekly roastings to tide us over on the weekdays.  And this salad is my current go-to dish for these delicious red beauties.

Perhaps you're scoffing at my statement that beets are neglected.  They're a constant in the product section at the local market and you may have been eating them forever.  But they're new here and I'm excited, so eat my beets.  (Seriously though....please?  They're pretty dang good.)

Due to their simple deliciousness, roasting is currently my favorite method of preparation.  After a good washing, all that's required is a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of salt & pepper...then just fold into a little bundle with aluminum foil and bake until tender.  Smashed garlic cloves are welcome to hang with the beets while they roast.  They play well together. 

During out play dates, I've picked up several helpful tips for handling these oh-so-red roots.  Tip #1 - get a red cutting board.  Beets stain any and everything they come into contact with - hands, wooden boards, counter tops, curious pup tongues...all have experienced awkward snickers for several hours after a brief encounter of the very red variety.  Which leads to tip #2 - wipe or wash the surface immediately after contact with the beets.  But the slightly pink tinge to your hands is well worth this salad in the end....

Rather than fight their desire to stain everything they come into contact with, I embrace their color and have come up with this beautiful little beet salad.  Quickly grilled kale is tossed together with tender quinoa and our fabulous roasted roots until the grains are heated through and saturated with that gorgeous pinky-red hue.  Voila, the perfect lunch for a cold day.  And since there were so many delicious things already going on below, what could be better than a garnish of tangy goat cheese and roasted almonds?  Yeah, pretty much nothing....except a drizzle to finish it all off.

Fig balsamic vinegar...*swoon*  I lit-er-ally (Chris Traeger inflection) cannot get enough of this stuff.  But if you don't have it, a drizzle of good balsamic is also an excellent finisher to this dish, adding the perfect touch of sharpness to the accentuate sweet and tender beets below.

Who says eating healthy has to be boring?!

Roasted Beet, Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Goat Cheese & Almonds (2 servings)

  • 2 beets
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 c kale, chopped
  • 1 c cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 c goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 c roasted or smoked almonds, chopped
  • balsamic or fig vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Stem and wash the beets, saving the greens for salads/sammies/etc.  Dry the beets and place on a sheet of aluminum foil with the garlic clove.  Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold the aluminum foil in a pocket around the beets, sealing the ends and sides but leaving enough room for them to steam inside.  Place on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven.  Roast for an hour and fifteen minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife.  Remove and let cool.

Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  While the pan heats, peel the beets and cut each into eight wedges.  Place the kale in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes, tossing once or twice, until wilted.  Add the beets and cook for another 30 seconds, seasoning with salt and pepper, before adding the kale.  Stir together until the quinoa is warm....and uniformly reddish-pink.  

To serve, divide quinoa salad between two plates.  Garnish with the goat cheese and chopped almonds.  Finish with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar....or if you can find it, fig vinegar.  Super duper with a side of cheese, crackers and summer sausage.  

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