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warm kale, quinoa and balsamic beet salad + a fall mix!


Acceptance. Autumn is the season where we go home. 

There are blankets, hot beverages to wrap your little fingers around, old sweaters, all of those warming foods that remind us of our childhood or ones that just make us feel good. Everything seems like a joyous reunion; the biggest hugs, the wide smiles that say “HIIII!” when you come near, the familiar notebooks with the blank pages, your favourite scarf comes out of the closet, the light is friendlier at any given moment of the day… There is intent and warmth in every move.

There are more inclinations to bring us into the kitchen, that beating heart of pure goodness and love. There’s stock to be made for soup, squash and roots to be roasted, more languid breakfasts to be had with the ones you like to hold close. The food takes a bit longer and we never mind. Steam rises and falls out of heavy pots. The dog cuddles in a blanket on the warm spot beneath the oven. Slower time, coziness, that intimacy with all of our surroundings. It’s here, it’s here.

People always say that time slows down in the summer and really, I couldn’t disagree more. I feel like we’re always shipping off here and there for whatever excursion or event from June to August. Fall is a return to comfort in routine and more simplified time spent in each other’s company. It is dependable. The leaves turn like clockwork and we turn into each other around the table, under a wooly blanket, across the classroom, wherever we may be. It is the season that brings all of our communities into focus.

So I wanted to make a salad. A warm one with hearty greens and sticky balsamic roasted beets. Some quinoa fills it all out and the pecorino gives a salty bite. You toss the whole mess of it with a muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic and oil mix that sloshes around the beets while they roast away. There was a version of this in the latest Donna Hay magazine and I was pretty jazzed to even conceive of all my favourite things in one bowl. Party time!

Bonus! My lovely friend Michelle made up a pretty splendid Fall music mix for us all to enjoy. The brilliant gal put all of her coziest thoughts into this compilation and I’ve been listening to it on repeat. You can download it by clicking the picture right at the bottom of the page. Listen to it while you’re roasting beets, making some tea, pulling on your wooly socks, kicking up the leaves and all of those other completely perfect things.

Big hugs,
Laura

warm kale salad with quinoa + balsamic roasted beets
Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine, Winter 2012 issue
serves: 4
notes: You could use chard or actual beet greens for the salad as well. If you only have access to bigger beets, just cut them into quarters or sixths pre-roasting. Some crunchy, toasted hazelnuts would be a nice garnish here too.

beets:
2 bunches of baby beets (about 12 beets total), scrubbed and trimmed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper

kale + salad:
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of curly kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper
handful of pecorino shavings (parm or grana padano would be great too)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the trimmed beets in a 2 inch deep ceramic or glass dish. Pour the balsamic vinegar and grape seed oil in. SPrinkle the muscovado sugar, salt and pepper around the beets. Cover dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the beets up a bit and continue to roast, uncovered, for 20 more minutes. They should be quite tender. Remove from the oven and allow dish to cool.

In a small saucepan, place the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup of water. Add a pinch of salt. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is mostly cooked and the little tails start to pop out. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and smoked paprika. Stir around until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa, a splash of water and half of the kale. Stir around until kale begins to wilt a bit. Add the remaining kale, season with salt and pepper and keep stirring. The kale should all be slightly wilted, but still firm. Take off the heat and transfer kale and quinoa mixture to your serving bowl.

Arrange roasted beets on top of the greens and quinoa. Drizzle salad with the balsamic cooking liquid in the pan (there should be about 1/4 cup of it left). Scatter  the pecorino shavings on top and serve.

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Shanna11/10/2012 - 10:51 pm

Oh, fall. Can I just say that reading your first paragraph gave me a big smile on my face? Love this time of year. (and gorgeous salad!)

Kimberley12/10/2012 - 1:16 am

Ah yes! All of it! I have been getting all cozy and enjoying the grey days and sweaters and quiet music and cups of tea and bowls of oatmeal …. and just loving fall. You nailed it. Plus those photos are stunning!

Katie (The Muffin Myth)12/10/2012 - 3:00 am

I totally agree with you about summer’s pace being so fast. Fall is mellow! This warm salad looks just right, and has many of my favourite things as well. And, lucky me, there is a new shop around the corner from my apartment that actually has kale! Thanks for sharing the recipe, and the fall mix. Downloading now!

Kassia12/10/2012 - 8:50 am

This looks phenomenal! I’m so so hungry now, and sad because we don’t get kale here in India. :(

Wholesome Hedonist12/10/2012 - 9:12 am

Your photos make the beets look like precious jewels…I just want to dive in to all that balsamic-y goodness (but then, you know, I’d spend the next week scrubbing the beet stain out of my skin!)

http://www.wholesomehedonist.com

Felicia12/10/2012 - 9:54 am

A combination of my favorite ingredients! Looks amazing. Putting this down on my things to make. Gorgeous. Thank you. xF

J'Val Shuster12/10/2012 - 11:13 am

Hello First Mess! I absolutely love your recipes and the beautiful photographs you take to go with them. I am trying to figure out when in the weekend I can make this recipe. It is the perfect blend of my favourite Fall ingredients. Thanks for such a great blog – you inspire me!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar12/10/2012 - 1:24 pm

This salad is a beauty!

Elizabeth A.12/10/2012 - 4:02 pm

I’m not usually a huge fan of beets, but these pictures have convinced me to try again. Thank you!

sara12/10/2012 - 7:50 pm

doesnt the donna hay mag make you want to dive in. I get so envious and inspired when looking through those pages. This looks fabulous.

Kathryn14/10/2012 - 5:33 am

“Autumn is the season where we go home”…I love that and I totally didn’t realise that was how I was feeling until I read it. Love the earthy flavours of this salad.

Spring14/10/2012 - 12:43 pm

Made this for dinner last night. It was sooooo delicious! Thanks for sharing, and I love your blog :)

Liz16/10/2012 - 12:49 pm

I found your blog through Pinterest the other day. I have been looking for a blog like this for months! Thank you for posting such thoughtful vegetarian recipes – easy enough for weeknights but beautiful for company too.

CSA Box Week 19*17/10/2012 - 12:15 am

[...] Warm Kale, Quinoa, and Balsamic Beet Salad from The First Mess [...]

val17/10/2012 - 11:23 am

This is great, and worked well with golden beets. It also converted my quinoa-phobic husband!

Ana J17/10/2012 - 4:54 pm

Your salad looks delicious!!!! I love the spin on a “fall” salad. What exactly is “muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic”?

Laura17/10/2012 - 4:59 pm

Hey Ana,
It just refers to the mixture I use to roast the beets in. It’s mostly balsamic vinegar that’s been sweetened by muscovado sugar (similar to brown sugar). Hope that helps :)
-L

muppy09/01/2013 - 5:05 pm

we have made this many times – love it :)

[...] Warm Kale, Quinoa and Balsamic Beet Salad [...]

Julia06/02/2013 - 12:21 pm

I’m vegan, so I left out the Parmesan. I also used beet greens instead of kale and used regular beets and regular sugar (I’m out of raw sugar). Anyways, this was incredible!

Mary13/05/2013 - 10:36 am

At what point do you peel off the beet skins? In the pictures it looks like you didn’t, but does that make eating them problematic?

Can’t wait to try this!

Laura Wright14/05/2013 - 8:18 am

Hi Mary,

I did not peel the beets in this dish. They were baby beets, so the skins were a bit thinner. I generally don’t find eating the skins of a roasted beet too bothersome. But it’s all personal preference :)
-L

Linda Wilson22/06/2013 - 4:18 pm

Wow, I am impressed and cannot wait to try your recipes. I have an abundant garden and weekly organic CSA delicacies to use up and enjoy, and your recipes are supplying my needs! Thanks Laura!

Christine10/08/2013 - 9:09 pm

I just discovered your website as I was looking for a recipe for the kale, baby beets and garlic I bought at the farmer market this morning… The recipe was delicious and your website is absolutely amazing. I just subscribed to your feed too and will definitely try your most recent recipes in the future!

[…] Beet, Satsuma Plum & Green Zebra Lacinato Kale Salad (inspired by this beauty from The First Mess) serves […]

Rachel18/12/2013 - 2:59 pm

trying this tonite- thank you!!

[…] Warm Kale, Quinoa + Balsamic Beet Salad by, The First Mess […]

Erika01/02/2014 - 11:52 pm

So delicious. Thank you for gathering all my favorite things into one amazing (and easy) recipe’

Mohana10/08/2014 - 6:13 am

CAN I THANK YOU FOR INTRODUCING ME TO BEETS? I hope through all the caps you see how excited I was about this recipe. I’ve had tons of quinoa (as a new pescatarian): this was an excellent new way to add flavor and make the make of random ingredients in my fridge. Linked to the recipe on my blog so I hope that helps you get even more notice.

[…] me, if you’ve never had marinated beets (which I can’t say that I had before this) this Kale Beet Quinoa Salad will be a revelation. Start them first because the roasting does take a while (50 minutes) but you […]

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