Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad with Arugula Pesto
Arugula pesto, you are one of my new favorite things.
Sidenote: Arugula is also known as salad rocket, garden rocket, or simply, rocket. Doesn’t that make you laugh? What a funny name! Apparently this name is due to arugula’s lightning-fast growth rate. It makes me wonder if even I, Allison of the Black Thumb, could grow it. But then, a plant that is fast-growing doesn’t necessarily make it an easy-to-grow plant. And by easy, I mean that the said plant has to be able to survive and thrive through drought and intrusion of weeds, aka a general neglect on the part of the gardener –>me.
Pesto is a genius creation, don’t you think? Basil, which can have sweet, floral undertones is way different than arugula but substituting arugula is just as good. Instead of sweet and floral, you get grassy and peppery, which works very well with the earthiness of roasted beets. Adding arugula pesto to some quinoa and beets makes a salad that is a fantastic combination of grains, vegetables, and nuts. I first made this with barley instead of quinoa, and I loved it with barley too, but if you are gluten free, quinoa works just as well as is pictured here.
I love the vibrant colors in this salad. I originally imagined using golden beets because that would be so pretty with bright green pesto and rich yellow beets. But alas, our farmer’s market didn’t open until this week (today, actually!) so I’ve been stuck with regular old beets from the grocery store. Purple beets still work just fine so if that’s all you can find, then by all means, use them! A note of caution however, the purple beets will bleed a bit into the quinoa, so if you are serving this to guests, I would wait to mix the beets in until just before serving.
This salad comes together pretty quickly. Roast your beets and cook the quinoa. Meanwhile, put all of your pesto ingredients go in the food processor. Press the button to blend. Toast nuts. When the beets and quinoa are cool, mix everything together. Done. Nutrition information is for 5 one cup servings, which is what I take for lunch, but you could halve that serving size to use it as a side.
I typically find arugula in 4 0z. bags. The pesto only calls for half of that, so I often pack a scoop of quinoa salad for lunch on top of some extra arugula because can you really have too much arugula? Of course not. Or try making double batch of pesto and freeze the rest in ice cube trays for later. Mix it with pasta and fresh tomatoes, put it on pizza, spread it on a sandwich…the beautiful thing about pesto is that you can put it on just about anything!
- 2 oz. arugula
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1 bunch of beets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup goat cheese
- Combine arugula, walnuts, Parmesean, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse a few times to roughly chop the walnuts and greens. With food processor running, slowly pour in olive oil until pesto is well blended. Set aside.
- 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- 2. Wash and peel beets. NOTE: Your hands will be stained pink for a few hours. You could wear gloves if that bothers you. Cut each beet in half and slice into half-inch sized pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- 3. Roast beets on a lightly oiled baking sheet for 30 minutes, until tender, stirring halfway through.
- 4. While beets are roasting, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse quinoa in a collander and add to the boiling water. Cover, and reduce heat. Simmer quinoa for approximately 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
- 5. Combine pecans and sunflower seeds in a pan on medium heat. Toast nuts and seeds, stirring often, until they become fragrant.
- 6. Combine cooled quinoa, beets, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pesto in a large bowl and mix well. Gently stir in goat cheese.
- Makes 5 cups. Serving size: 1 cup