black quinoa with plum & roasted beet

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Sometimes an ingredient appears in your pantry that’s too beautiful to put to use. So it sits on your shelf, looking lovely beside average, everyday cans of tomatoes and jars of jam, but looking more and more useless, too, as all around it those plain but practical tomato cans are selected and enjoyed. I had one such ingredient on my shelf for nearly the entire summer season. It was a bag of organic black quinoa, a birthday present from my mom and a real beauty as far as grains go. While in the process of moving into a new apartment last week, I came across the gift once again and decided that something had to be done. It was time to treat this bag of quinoa less as a museum piece and more as honest-to-goodness food.

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This quinoa recipe from the blog Love and Olive Oil has been on my radar for a couple of weeks now. The original recipe calls for peaches, but I was so tickled by the resemblance between a beet and a plum that I couldn’t help pairing the two together. Another thing I like about the marriage of these two is that it creates the perfect dish for making that sometimes difficult (sometimes welcomed) transition from summer into fall. So if you’re into intriguing combinations of flavor and texture, and if you’ve got a bag of pretty black quinoa gathering dust on your pantry shelf, please try this salad ASAP.

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black quinoa with plum & roasted beet
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Serves 4-5

3 medium beets
2 large carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used black, but any color will do)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon oregano or thyme (fresh if you have it!)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2-3 ripe plums, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 F.

To begin, peel and chop the beets and carrots into roughly-equal 1-inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Place veggies in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil and fold up the edges to form a packet. (In hindsight, I would wrap the veggies completely in the foil to hasten the roasting process.) Place the packet on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring occassionally, until veggies are tender.

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Meanwhile, cook up your quinoa per the directions on the packet. Once the quinoa is fully cooked, transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a spoon. Let cool 5-10 minutes before tossing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs.

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Add the roasted vegetables and the slivered almonds to the quinoa. Mix well.

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Divide quinoa mixture into serving bowls and garnish generously with slices of plum and crumbled feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Not only is this quinoa salad visually gorgeous (it’s like eating a bowl of jewels!), it delivers a kickin’ combination of flavors: herb-y, earthy root vegetables meet sweet, juicy plums meet tangy, salty feta. Chew slowly and thoughtfully to make sure you pick up on all the taste sensations. And on top of all this, you’ve got almonds and black quinoa adding a subtle, nutty crunch. I ate leftovers of this salad the following day and enjoyed it just as much (or more so) at room temperature.

Quick! Go make it! While plums (or peaches) (or pluots) are still perfect!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Helen says:

    BEAUTIFUL. (that shot of the dry quinoa is gorgeous)

  2. Anna Linnea says:

    I LOVE roasted vegetables! 🙂 I just made roasted peppers and red onion with cumin and lime for my black bean corn tortillas. I’m sure the roasting here is just as good at bringing out the carrots’ and beets’ sweetness.

  3. Tony says:

    Positively dreamlike!

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