Quinoa Beet Salad with Feta and Mint

As the summer heat continues to linger here in Sacramento, I’m finding more and more reasons not to turn my oven on. I almost ignored my craving for this salad, seeing as roasting the beets was sure to make my apartment uncomfortably warm for a while, but I’m glad I persevered.

A good, protein-filled, vegetarian cold salad is one of those summer treats that never gets old. If you really don’t want to deal with the oven, you can buy pre-roasted beets from Trader Joe’s, but in my mind the flavor is much better when you buy them at the farmer’s market and roast them yourself.

Either way, give this salad a try. I made this batch for a party, so it makes about 10 servings. Stock up for the week or simply cut down the amounts.

Ingredients

5 medium-large beets 

up to 1/2 cup olive oil

salt & pepper

1.5 cups dry quinoa

3 cups water

3 dozen fresh mint leaves 

2/3 cup crumbled feta

3 tbsp lemon juice 

1/3 cup pine nuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim stalks and root from beets. One at a time, pour about 1 tbsp olive oil onto each beet and rub until entire surface has a very light coat of oil. Place onto a piece of foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fold the foil around the beet. Place foil-wrapped beets onto a baking sheet.

Beet after being rubbed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Beet after being rubbed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Foil-wrapped beets ready to roast.

Foil-wrapped beets ready to roast.

Roast beets for 45 minutes, then remove from oven and unwrap the foil from one beet. Test by slicing a sharp knife into the thickest part of the beet. If the knife goes all the way through the beet easily, the beets are done. If not, re-wrap the test beet in foil and return the entire tray to the oven. Roast until done, checking at 10 minute intervals. 

Once beets are done, unwrap the foil from each beet and leave out to cool for at least 30 minutes. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, rub between your hands until the outer layer peels away as shown below.

Partially peeled beets.

Partially peeled beet.

Once the beets are peeled, slice into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Set aside.

While beets are cooling, rinse and then cook the quinoa. Once tender, add to the beets and stir to combine. Set aside until quinoa mixture has cooled to room temp. 

Finely shred mint leaves. Add with to the beet and quinoa mixture along with the feta and pine nuts, stir to combine. Serve cold.

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