fall quinoa salad

Just when I was getting excited about fall in Los Angeles, the weather spikes to 85 degrees! Everyone says that you can’t beat the weather in Southern California, but sometimes, especially during the fall and winter, I miss the chilly nights and snowy mornings I used to enjoy in Boston.
Too hot for a stew, I decided to make another fall salad but this time with various root vegetables and quinoa to make this completely vegetarian. If you need your meat, feel free to add grilled shrimp, chicken, steaks, fish, or any protein of your desire.fall quinoa salad

fall quinoa salad
fall quinoa salad

Serves 4


Fall Quinoa Salad

1 hrTotal Time

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  • 6 medium beets, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Carrots
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 oz basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Remaining ingredients
  • 4 cups kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 8 dried figs, quartered


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss whole unpeeled beets with olive oil, water, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper in a baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until a fork can easily pierce through. Let cool slightly. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off by rubbing the beet in between paper towels. Slice in quarters and set aside.
  3. Toss baby carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper and lay on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove and let cool.
  4. Make basil vinaigrette by combining garlic- black pepper in a blender. Blend on low speed, slowly adding the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Toss the kale with 1/4 cup dressing, make sure to massage the leaves with the vinaigrette. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  5. Combine quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Remove cover and stir.
  6. To assemble salads, toss together kale with cooked quinoa. Portion onto 4 plates. Top with roasted beets, carrots, crumbled goat cheese, toasted sunflower seeds, and dried figs. Drizzle extra basil dressing on top. Serve.

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Beets are one of those root vegetables that are completely underrated. Beets are known to have a strong earthy taste but when prepared in certain ways, the beets have a sweetness that really shines. Beets can be pickled, steamed, grilled, boiled, or eaten raw, but my favorite method is to roast them. Roasting the beets in sherry vinegar allows the root vegetable to absorb the flavor of the vinegar. You can even cook the leafy greens on top or serve them raw with the salad as they are completely edible.
When peeling the beets, simply rub the skin off with a paper towel. The skin should easily come off without resistance. Wear gloves if you want to prevent your hands from turning red.
roasted beetsCarrots are another root vegetable that I believe is underrated. Raw carrots are fresh and crunchy but once cooked, the sweetness really comes through. I’m not a huge fan of cooked carrots unless they are roasted. I purchased baby imperator carrots which are long thin carrots. I like to keep the tips of the stems attached for visual appeal. Cut the carrots in half or on a bias if they are too long. You can also roast purple and yellow carrots to make the salad even more colorful.
roasted carrotsTossing the kale in the basil vinaigrette allows the leaves to soften. Drizzling the vinaigrette last minute instead of massaging it into the kale will yield tough and bitter kale.
Although this salad seems so simple, the contrasting flavors will argue otherwise. The creamy goat cheese complements the sweet roasted carrots and mildly earthy beets while the sunflower seeds add the needed crunch factor. The basil vinaigrette is one of my favorite dressings as it has just the right amount of spice, tart, and sweetness. The quinoa already provides protein for this salad but next time I might add grilled shrimp just to please my meat-loving appetite. Light and delicious all around!
fall quinoa salad



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