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 Balance Me Beautiful's comprehensive guide to the health benefits of this food fit for royalty, a spoon is all that is needed to get personally acquainted with this addictive Middle Eastern staple. Commingled 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.
Although it takes a couple minutes longer, this salad is gorgeous made on individual plates and served before the meal. The salad will remain fresh plated for 3 hours, so 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.
4 medium red beets, washed, trimmed & dried
4 golden beets, washed, trimmed & dried
4 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 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
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 10" SKILLET over medium heat. When the pot is hot, 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. It will be extremely thick and not easily spreadable, add hot water, one tablespoon at a time, to loosen until it is spreadable and has the consistency of very thick cream (usually 1/3 to 1/2 cup water--it will depend on the brand of tahini used how much water will be needed to get a spreadable consistency).
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 PLATE with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.