ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH TAHINI & PUFFED QUINOA
With more protein than milk and most nuts, tahini is a brain power boosting, energy unlocking ground sesame paste and a staple of the intensely flavored and soul satisfying Mediterranean diet. Forget about the oily topped, stiff canned, sludgy separated tahini and seek out the smoother textured, albeit a bit more pricey but worth it, Philadelphia-based, made in Israel, Soom brand. Made with Ethiopian hulled sesame seeds, this premium paste is a non-GMO, sustainably produced roasted & pressed, single ingredient gluten-free, paleo friendly, vegan, and nut-free food. Chefs around the world endorse it and when Yotam Ottolenghi puts his stamp of approval on a brand, then take his word for it. Combined with quinoa, a grain-like seed boasting the full amino acid chain making it a complete protein, and performance enhancing beets, the garden's autumn ruby and topaz gems, this salad emerges as an easy to prepare in advance, visual eye-catching and conversation inducing plate. Worthy of eating as a full meal, or a sidekick to a holiday feast, this is one plate with crunch that pleases nearly everyone.
Nota bene: Although it takes a couple minutes longer, this salad is gorgeous made on individual plates and served before the meal. The platter will remain fresh plated for 3 hours, so do make life easier and plate in advance. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice with a tart, lemony flavor and gorgeous burgundy color. Puffed quinoa may be made up to one week in advance. The beets may be prepared up to 2 days in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the beets in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Roll the beets around in the bowl until all sides are lightly coated in oil. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife slides to the center of the beet easily. Remove beets from the oven and unwrap them. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins.
- Dice the beets into 1" pieces and place the red beets in a bowl and the golden beets in another bowl. Drizzle each bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons honey. Toss the beets to distribute the olive oil and honey.
- Heat a SKILLET over medium heat. Add the quinoa and roast until the quinoa begins to pop or puff. With a wooden spoon, move the quinoa around until it is all popped and puffed. Set aside.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately toss the nuts with the sumac.
- Put the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a glass mixing bowl. Mix until combined. If extremely thick and not easily spreadable, add hot water, one teaspoon at a time, to loosen until it is spreadable and has the consistency of very thick cream.
- Spread the tahini on the bottom of a platter. Add the beets to the center of the tahini, leaving a 1/4" border.
- Evenly sprinkle the puffed quinoa and then the pine nuts around the platter.
- Drop the arugula, or sorrel if using, evenly around the salad. Finish with a generous sprinkling of sea salt flakes and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Drizzle the entire platter with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
SERVES 4 TO 6
4 medium red beets, washed, trimmed & dried
4 golden beets, washed, trimmed & dried
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup pinenuts
1 teaspoon sumac
2 cups arugula (sorrel if in season)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper