Grilled Pear, Beet, and Asparagus Quinoa Salad
When I think about fall, I instinctively think about pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the traditional warm, nutty, and earthy flavors that so embody fall, but there's so much more seasonal produce that takes somewhat of a back seat to the more traditional flavors. For example, my mind doesn't jump straight to beets when I think about fall, but I think the juiciest, most flavorful beets are a product of fall and they're just too good to be overlooked.
I have to apologize for the interruption here, but while I'm on the topic of word association, I can't help but mention that when I think about beets, my mind jumps straight to "The Beets" from "Doug" on Nickelodeon. Sorry for geeking out about 90's cartoons, but I can't help the fact that us late-80s kids grew up on THE BEST cartoons EVER. Bold statement, I know, but I stand behind it. Doug Funnie was the coolest guy ever (seriously, I even dressed up as Quail Man, his alter ego, when I was in college), and when I was a kid I remember wanting so badly to try beets just because of that cartoon and "The Beets." "Ahhhh-eeeee-ouuuuuu Killer Tofu......" What a great way to subliminally influence kids that eating healthy is cool, like rock-star level cool. It's so funny to think about now... A cartoon with a band named after a root vegetable with a one hit wonder preaching about the awful effects of junk food and the awesomeness of tofu. Boy, do I miss that show.
Anyway, back to this dish... I ended up making this dish because I had some leftover beets (I bought a bunch and pickled two for my Banh Mi from two weeks ago and I had no real intention for the other two), I had 2 pears that were slightly overripe (they were at the point that I either needed to freeze them for future smoothies or cook them for some type of breakfast or dessert dish) and I had a bunch of asparagus in the fridge waiting to be grilled (grilling is our preferred way to cook asparagus over here). So, since I had my mind made up about making grilled asparagus, I decided to go ahead and throw the beets and pears on the grill too. I didn't want to just eat them straight off the grill, so I decided I would cut them up and toss them together with a dressing and make a salad. I choose to make a light, fresh dressing, with lemon and mint being the primary ingredients, to balance out the rich, earthy flavors from the beets and pears and the smokiness from the grilled asparagus. And that's how this dish was born, on a whim, from a bunch of leftover ingredients we had on hand. It was so good that I couldn't help but share it. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones born on a whim!
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time||Total Time|
|4||15 mins.||20 mins.||35 mins.|
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 2 beets
- 2 ripe pears
- A bunch of asparagus
- 4 scallions
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in quinoa, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Fill another medium saucepan 2/3 of the way full with water. Peel beets and add them to the water. Bring to a boil and boil until just tender (test by sticking a fork in the beet).
- Peel and core the pears and cut them into large slices.
- Cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of the asparagus, to remove the tough part.
- When the beets are tender, remove them from the pot with tongs and use tongs to hold the beets to slice them.
- Season the pears, beets, and asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place pears, beets, and asparagus on the grill, over medium to high heat. Grill the pears for only about 30 seconds on each side—if they grill is hot when they are placed on it, light grill marks should be achieved in this short amount of time. You don’t want to overcook the pears because if they are ripe, they will be delicate and will fall apart if cooked for too long.
- Grill the beets and asparagus for approximately 4 minutes on each side until asparagus are slightly charred and beets have achieved dark grill marks.
- Once everything has been removed from the grill, allow it all to cool enough to handle and cut. Cut the beets and pears into half-inch chunks and the asparagus into one-inch pieces.
- To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice, orange juice, mint, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and salt and pepper in a jar and shake vigorously until combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, asparagus, pear, beet, and dressing and toss together.
- Refrigerate for an hour or so.
- Serve and enjoy!
This dish is a really light, fresh way to enjoy rich fall produce. It makes a great dinner side dish or lunch entree. I imagine a bowl of this right along side a grilled, balsamic marinated portobello mushroom or a soy sauce braised portobello mushroom. Mmmmmm I'm going to have to make this again, and soon!