This is the perfect summer dish–a cross between a grain and a salad. In the summer, I’m always looking for dishes that can be served at room temperature. My summer meals are often a combination of room-temperature salads with a main course from the grill.
Today, one of my favorite farm stands, Halsey Farm, re-opened for the summer. Their golden beets are the sweetest I’ve ever had. Beets go well with nutty whole grains like farro, bulgur and quinoa. Cucumbers and dill are the perfect bright, green counterpart to the earthy sweet beets.
The dressing for this dish is olive oil and rice wine vinegar. The rice wine vinegar provides a light, sweet acidity which balances all of the earthy flavors. You could also substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, although I think the rice vinegar provides just the right sweet/sour note.
Needless to say, the dish can be made an hour or two ahead of dining and allowed to rest at room temperature. It also keeps and serves well the next day straight from the fridge. Preparation time is minimal, once the beets have been roasted.
Tonight, as a main course, we’re having grilled chicken thighs. Today, I’ve marinated them with sage, lemon, salt and chili flakes for five hours in the fridge.
Along with a fresh salad of oak leaf lettuce from my neighbor Beppi’s garden, this is the perfect summer meal.
Quinoa with Golden Beets, Cucumber and Dill
1 c quinoa
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium cucumber
4 medium golden beets
3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbls rice wine vinegar
2 tbls chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and roast beets in foil packets in a 375-degree oven for about an hour, or until slightly soft. You should be able to run a knife through the entire beet without any resistance. Allow to cool about 20 minutes. Peel by rubbing off skin with a paper towel.
Cut beets into 1/2″ dice and set aside.
In a pot of cold water, bring quinoa and salt to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Allow to rest until other ingredients are prepped.
Peel and remove the seeds from cucumber. Dice into 1/2′ cubes.
Place beets, cucumber and dill in mixing bowl. Dress with the oil, vinegar and some salt and pepper.
Add quinoa and stir to combine.
Taste again for salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature within an hour or two.