If all is going well in my summer fridge, it contains numerous cold salads I can eat for days. There’s a security in seeing them all stacked in their glass containers, like my own personal section of the deli aisle. There’s often some version of chickpea salad (like the one on this page), maybe a potato salad, and always this, my very favorite. I’m not always a quinoa lover, but this is a great place for it—the dressing makes it cold and pickle-y, and it’s jeweled with roasted beets and cucumbers that keep crunching up over time. Red quinoa is a bit nuttier than white, and the deep color means the whole thing doesn’t turn pink from the beets.
This is also a summer picnic stunner. You can roast the beets Julia-style (see this page) for this salad; or, if you have a pressure cooker, they go tender in 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. Either way, I like to cook up a few bunches of beets at a time so they can be in the fridge and ready to go. If you already have cooked quinoa, this salad comes together quickly, but if you’re starting from scratch, give yourself a bit of time to let the quinoa cool.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1¼ cups boiling water
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 8 ounces cucumbers (4 small or 1 big), quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh dill
- ½ cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese
- 2 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1½ pounds beets (3 to 5 medium beets), cooked, peeled, and cut into small bites
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve under cold water. Transfer the quinoa to a medium saucepan set over medium heat, and toast, stirring constantly, until the quinoa dries out and smells nutty, about 2 minutes. Add the boiling water, the 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt, and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let cook undisturbed for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl about twice as large as you need to hold it. Let cool for a bit at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove the bowl of quinoa from the refrigerator, gently stirring and tossing the quinoa to fluff it up again. Add the cucumbers, dill, feta, scallions, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to combine. Gently fold in the beets. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.