Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quinoa, Arugula, Golden Beet, & Goat Cheese . . . oh my!

This, I promise, is a little bit of salad heaven.  Added bonus: it's not just wheat free -- it's gluten free!  Most important: the FLAVOR. 

Pause.  Before I get started, let me just say, I have to add beets to the long list of vegetables that were victim to my undeserved derision. But only golden beets. Still not a fan of the red variety, but for any of your red beet lovers, I do wholeheartedly approve of their color if that helps? And I'd love any recipe suggestions to change my mind. :)

Here is a preview of how amazingly delicious AND beautiful this salad is. 

Now that I have your attention, and have tantalized your taste buds, I have to tell you this salad contains several cooked components so requires a bit of time.  HOWEVER, 1) I promise it's worth it, and 2) all the cooked items can be made ahead of time and tossed in at the last minute.  This gem of a salad is good warm or cold!
For this bit of salad heaven (3 large entree salads) you will need:

1. Roasted Golden Beets
  • 9 golden beets, washed with stems/tops removed
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place beets in a roasting pan and fill with water until beets are 3/4 submerged.  Cover with foil and roast for 1-1.5 hours.  Remove from oven, let cool, then remove skins and chop.  Let cool.

2. Quinoa
  • 1 c dry quinoa
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
While chicken is  cooking, use a medium pot to boil chicken broth and bay leaf.  Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and cover again.  Let stand for 15 minutes (this steam time is critical!!! Otherwise your quinoa will be dense and slightly crunchy; more like grape nuts than fluffy, yummy sprouted quiinoa)

3. Exploding tomato mixture
  • 1 c grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil, s/p for tossing
(Adapted from Rachael Ray) Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place on cookie sheet and roast until tomatoes start to pop.  Moisture from the tomatoes will keep the onions and garlic from burning.  And your kitchen will smell fabulous.

4.  Grilled Chicken (OPTIONAL, if making entree salads and someone in your family insists on eating meat . . . at every meal . ..  not naming names :)  love you, babe ;) )
  • 1lb chicken breast, cut into strips
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried oregano
  • s/p
  • 1 T olive oil
Heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.  Rub chicken breasts with dry ingredients and cook until done, getting a nice golden color on both sides.  Set aside to cool.

****If knocking this out all at once, let your cooked ingredients cool before assembling salad.  You don't want wilted arugula****

Combine the above cooked ingredients in a large bowl with
  • 1 package baby arugula
  • 1/4 c goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin

And phew!  You're ready to chow down.  It was a little bit of work, definitely more fit for a weekend meal, but YUMMMMMMMMMMM.  Anything that looks this beautiful has got to taste amazing!

I adore this salad for many reason.  Its layers of flavor, its color, its nutrients, its balance . . . but what I love most is the surprises.  When I get goat cheese and roasted beets in the same forkful -- oh my goooooooodness!  Who knew that goat cheese and golden beets are such an amazing pair?!  This revelation alone is worth the prep time . . . and don't be at all surprised if you start seeing a lot of meals from me utilizing this new pair. 

Quinoa, Arugula, Golden Beet, and Goat Cheese Salad, I love you.  You've got your greens, your protein, your essential fatty acids, your antioxidants, your fiber, and your TASTE all in one amazing little (ok, big) bit of salad heaven.  Eat up! (We did.)

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