Candy Striped Beet Quinoa Salad with Scallion Cashew Cheese

by Valerie on June 4, 2012 · 7 comments


As I mentioned, I am slowly but surely warming up to beets – as long as they are raw or in juice.  Cooked beets still generally do not appeal to me.  So yesterday, in a fit of culinary ambition, I picked up a bunch of beets (labeled, simply, as “beets”) at the U Street market, and resolved to make a vegan variation of this beautiful dish over at Lisa’s Kitchen.  If you have not yet seen Lisa’s Kitchen, I recommend you stop by – there are a variety of vegetarian recipes that can often be made gluten-free and vegan with few substitutions, though often none are needed.  In my case, I was planning to just purée the beets and use them as a sauce for the quinoa, rather than grate them (my growing affinity for some-things-beets stops at handling them too much at this point).  Lisa, along with Jac of Tinned Tomatoes, co-hosts No Croutons Required and this month, the theme is leafless salads.  As a quinoa salad fan, I figured what better to submit than a new version (two previous favorites and past submissions have been chickpea quinoa salad and curried quinoa salad with lentils).

Back to the beets. So I bought them, washed them, gave myself a little pep talk that I no longer hate beets,and then cut them open. And they were candy striped beets.  Gone were my hopes of a brilliant red quinoa salad.  I tasted a small piece and figured this might be a blessing in disguise. After all, the candy striped beet was just a little less “beet-strong” than regular beets, with a slightly lighter flavor.  


This salad is a quinoa-based vegan version of beet and goat cheese salad.  The flavors are all there – the tartness of the cheese, the black pepper complementing the sweetness of the beets, and the tang of a slightly mustard-accented vinaigrette.  Lisa’s recipe was my initial conceptual inspiration and then I filled in the blanks by reading several beet and goat cheese salad recipes to get a sense of the flavor profiles.


Candy Striped Beet Quinoa Salad with Scallion Cashew Cheese (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free)
Makes 4-6 servings  

You could make this recipe with regular beets, though be aware the beet flavor will be likely a bit stronger.  Another substitution would be yellow beets, which are similar to candy striped beets in flavor.  This recipe lends itself well to make either the quinoa or the vegan cashew cheese (or both) 24 hours before serving.  For best results, plan for the quinoa to be hot and steaming prior to combining with beet dressing, to ensure that the quinoa absorbs the dressing. 

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 4 medium candy striped beets, peeled and coarsely chopped, yielding 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (a basic tangy mustard would work. I like Eden brand mustards)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or spring onions (about 3-4, roots removed)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and additional salt, if desired
  • to serve: arugula or other peppery green and a full batch of Scallion Cashew Vegan Cheese or other full-bodied vegan cheese of your choice.  For visual interest, slice a fifth peeled beet into thin slices.

Cook quinoa according to package directions (I used 3 cups of water and cooked for about 15e minutes, allowing an additional 5 minutes for steaming, covered).  While the quinoa is cooking, place beets, lemon juice, avocado oil, mustard and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor.  Process until beets are chopped finely, streaming in water as you process (if your food processor does not have an opening to allow for that, simply start with a couple of tablespoons of water, and add as needed).  Place hot steaming quinoa into a bowl, and pour dressing over the quinoa, stirring to combine.  Season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir well to combine.  Allow quinoa mixture to cool.  Refrigerate until serving.  Prior to serving, add chopped scallions and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper or lemon juice.  Serve with greens and topped with Scallion Cashew Vegan Cheese.  

Update – I am submitting this to several weekly blogging events as well:

  • Wellness Weekend, hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs.
  • Sugar-Free Sundays, hosted by Flip Cookbook
  • Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, hosted by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.
  • Gluten-Free Wednesdays, hosted by Linda the Gluten-Free Homemaker.
  • Whole Gang’s Friday Foodie Fix, hosted by Diane.
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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Gena June 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    This dish was such a winner! Loved it, and can’t wait to scarf down the leftovers tonight. The cashew cheese was such a hit that there are no leftovers, so I’ll be filling in with something else. Thanks for sharing it :)


    2 Debi June 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I had an aversion to beets all my life up until right before I discovered I needed to be gluten-free. I knew by cutting out so much refined and processed food, I would have to change my ideas and thoughts about the good foods I didn’t like. Like beets, mushrooms, and peas. I kept buying them and eating them. Eventually, I found myself wanting them. I think my thing with beets was that my mother used to use the canned beets. Fresh beets are so much better! Glad to see you trying them out more. 😀


    3 Vicky June 9, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Gosh! As a great lover of beets, I would just ADORE this recipe…and candy striped ones – awesome!

    We had roasted beets last night…I just love them! My eldest felt pretty much the same as you about beets but now he’s truly addicted to them! Maybe cooked beets will grow on you!

    Good tip about mixing the dressing in while the quinoa is still hot…


    4 Jacqueline June 21, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I love the look of the salad and the cashew cheese. A great submission to No Croutons Required and lovely to have you back Valerie. I am just typing up the roundup as we speak.



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