Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kale, Beet, and Quinoa Salad for the First Spring Market

Hooray! Mark your calendars because the start date for the 2011 Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is set for Sunday April 17th! Celebrate having filed your taxes by coming down to the corner of Agate and 19th Street between 10 am and 2:30 pm for some early spring produce. In honor of this auspicious news, here's a warm salad with some ingredients one might expect to find at the market: kale and beets.

This recipe starts with the rich colors of black and red quinoa (ever since a pantry shortage last summer, I've been making mixtures of different colored quinoa, or "confetti quinoa"). I paired the grain with a similar pallet of vegetables: purple kale and red beets. For a hearty salad, I decided to experiment with roasting both the kale and the beets, each with its own allium, to contrast how the different vegetables react to high heat.

To prepare the beets, I peeled and chopped them, along with a couple of shallots, and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I roasted them for about 30 minutes, until the beets were tender and the shallots had started to caramelize.

Meanwhile I cut the kale leaves from the hard stalks, tossed them with chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and added them to the hot oven for about 15 minutes, until they just started to brown around the edges.

The toasted, garlicy kale became the crisp base of the salad onto which I layered the quinoa and sweet, soft beets, tossed in a vinaigrette made from the roasted shallots. I finished the salad with a sprinkle of sharp feta, for added richness. Served warm, this would make a delicious post Farmers Market lunch.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Kale

For the salad:
  • 1 bunch purple kale
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • medium sized red beets
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup black quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
For the dressing:
  • shallots
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the beets and cut into approximately 1 inch chunks (about 8 pieces per medium-sized beet). Peel the shallots and cut into similarly sized pieces (about 4 pieces per shallot). Put in a baking pan, drizzle with some olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beets are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, cut or rip the kale leaves from their thick stems, and rip into bite sized pieces. Mince the garlic cloves. Place the kale leaves and garlic in a large casserole dish, pour on enough oil to coat, plenty of salt, and pepper to taste, and toss well. Roast the kale leaves in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they smell toasty and start to brown on the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Heat a cooking pot until you can feel the heat radiating from the bottom when you hold your hand at the top of the pan. Add the quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking the pot frequently, until you can smell the toasting grain. Add 1 1/4 cup water, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa grains have released their little halos.
  4. When the beets are ready, remove the shallot pieces to a mini or regular sized food processor or blender. Transfer the beets to a bowl and mix with the cooked quinoa. Deglaze the hot pan in which you roasted the beets and shallots with the sherry vinegar and transfer to the processor. Add the water, sugar, and smoked paprika and blend until smooth. Stir into the quinoa and beet mixture.
  5. Assemble the salad. Plate a bed of toasted kale, then spoon on the quinoa and beets, and finally sprinkle over the feta cheese. Serve warm.

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