Hello! It's hump day, so I thought I'd offer you a bright platter of tasty goodness to get you through the rest of the week.
This is a really fun platter to serve to your diners. It's both stunning to look at and fun to eat. There are many strategies I use to keep plant-based dishes exciting and appealing to all, even to skeptical meat-eaters. But the one in particular I always fall back on is making sure I build dimensions of color, flavor, and texture. (See this post for a how-to guide in balancing flavors and textures.) The color in this platter is obvious from the pictures. But what may not be so obvious is the happy contrast you get from the pop of quinoa, sweet, softly roasted beets and cherries, creamy sheep's cheese, and the crunch of nutty pine nuts and quick-pickled onions. Several notes are being played at once in this dish but they blend together harmoniously....trust me. I hope you make this soon and see for yourself what I'm talking about. But hurry before the cherries disappear!
Beets and cherries fall into the blue/purple food category, the color we tend to get the least of in our diet. The variety of colors in food represent a variety of nutrients available in those foods, and is another reason why it's important to cultivate a diet of variety. Blue/purple foods are especially high in a purple-colored antioxidant that gives the greatest punch in protecting against damaging free radicals and is particularly important for brain function and helping us remain mentally sharp. Think Blue for Brain. So when you have the option, choose the bluish- purple carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and kale over their orange, white, and green counterparts, respectively. And embrace eggplants, beets, figs (all with the organic skin on please!), cherries, blueberries, and blackberries right now while the picking is still good.
Beet, Cherry, and Quinoa Platter
Note: To make this platter come together quickly I buy whole cooked beets vacuum-sealed and sold in the refrigerated salad section. You might also find cooked beets at the salad bar of a large market. This comes together even quicker if you cook off the quinoa a day ahead and have it waiting for you in the fridge. Just let it come to room temp while preparing the rest.
- Quick-Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
- Warm Beet Cherry Salad (recipe below)
- 1 1/2 cups (280 gr) quinoa, cooked
- 1/2 cup (55 gr) fresh sheep's milk cheese (or sheep's milk feta), crumbled*
- 1/4 cup (30 gr - or more to taste) pine nuts, toasted
Quick-Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium red onion (the size equivalent of 2-3 medium shallots combined)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Big pinch of salt
- Peel and halve onion, then thinly slice lengthwise.
- Add everything but onions to a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir to make sure sugar is dissolved.
- Add onion slices, stir to coat making sure onion is mostly submerged in vinegar, cover, and remove from heat.
- Let marinate while preparing the rest of the platter. Reserve pickling liquid to mix into quinoa when assembling.
Warm Beet Cherry Salad
Note: If cherries are not in season where you live, frozen cherries work as well. Defrost and drain of excess liquid before proceeding with the recipe.
- 1 medium beet, cooked
- 3/4 cup (130 gr) cherries
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Pit and halve cherries. Dice beets, matching the size to the halved cherries.
- Place beets and cherries in a medium baking dish along with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to coat, and cook for 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss together cooked quinoa, 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and as much pickling liquid from pickled onions as desired. (I used all the liquid). Fold in crumbled cheese, then spread quinoa mixture out on a platter or large plate.
- Spoon over cooked beets, cherries, and their juice. Then scatter pickled onions on top and finish with pine nuts.