Just in time for summer BBQs, this Strawberry + Pickled Beet Salad with White Balsamic Dressing is an easy, healthy side dish. Garnished with feta, avocado, crispy quinoa and a tangy vinaigrette, this gluten-free and vegetarian arugula salad is a summertime classic!
It's officially summer, folks! This week marked the first day of the season and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with a produce-packed salad full of nutrients, complimentary flavors and textures and just so much beautiful color.
What's better than that? This Strawberry + Pickled Beet Salad is sure to up the ante at your next BBQ or picnic, or serve it alongside a delicious grilled steak for an easy, healthy side dish sure to WOW!
Let's take a look: low calorie and yet high in protein and healthy fats, this Strawberry + Pickled Beet Salad is jam-packed with Vitamin C (immune booster), Folic Acid (super important if you're pregnant, and for anyone with thyroid issues or digestive problems), Vitamin K (great for bone and blood health) and Potassium (which offers relief from stroke, blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress AND helps with enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and nervous system)! (source)
Naturally gluten-free, you can even make this salad vegan by leaving out the feta cheese if you have dietary restrictions. If not, I recommend buying a super high-quality, organic, grass-fed feta cheese.
If you're not vegan, but perhaps lactose-intolerant or simply try to avoid dairy, you might want to experiment with feta cheese and see how you feel.
Most people who are lactose intolerant still produce some lactase (the enzyme that helps your body digest lactose) and are able to digest feta cheese, especially if it's made from sheep's milk or goat's milk, which is easier to digest and much less allergenic and inflammatory than cheeses from cow’s milk (source).
Likewise, feta cheese is better for us when it's raw, so try to avoid feta cheese made from pasteurized milk products if you can. Regardless, if you're not opposed to cheese at all, I believe there's room for all food in a balanced diet (excluding allergies), so a little cheese in moderation can be a great way to add flavor and interest to your plate!
Okay, but this salad is soooo much more than cheese. That's just a small garnish on this bowl of summer, which comes together in just a few quick steps:
How to Cook Beets for Salad
I'm going to save you a lot of time (and purple hands!)–you can buy pre-cooked beets at the grocery store. I recommend Love Beets brand, which makes an organic variety in a mild vinegar sauce that goes perfectly with this strawberry salad recipe.
Of course, you can cook them yourself (if you do cook your own beets, I recommend roasting them and then marinating the cooked beets in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to achieve a similar flavor profile of Love Beets), but you'll save so much time buying them pre-made.
For this summer salad recipe, the beets are served cold, and they're lightly pickled adding an amazing tang to complement the sweet strawberries.
As you can see from the graphic above, this salad is full of varying textures, which is my favorite way to make salads interesting and complex.
You've got peppery arugula as the base, soft creamy avocado, plus super crunchy crispy quinoa (a great alternative to croutons!), sweet strawberries, tangy, earthy beets and a zesty balsamic dressing to top it all off.
What is white balsamic vinaigrette?
For the dressing in this strawberry + pickled beet salad recipe, I whipped up a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette that couldn't be easier or healthier!
I really wanted the dressing to pop, so I started with white balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard for some extra tang.
Add some heart-healthy olive oil and fresh, sweet basil to get some bright herbaceous flavor in there, and you've got one salad that will surely wow your guests at your next cookout!
If you try this recipe, be sure to share a photo and tag me @rootandrevel on social media–I’d LOVE to see how it turned out for you!
Strawberry + Pickled Beet Salad with White Balsamic Dressing
For the Dressing
- In a medium pot, combine quinoa with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Once quinoa is fully cooked, spread out on a baking sheet in an even layer. Adjust oven rack to upper third (about 6-8 inches away from the top) and preheat broiler. Roast quinoa for 7-8 minutes, stirring halfway through. Be sure to check frequently as you don't want the quinoa to burn, just to get crispy and crunchy. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the salad dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small glass bowl and whisking with a fork to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large salad bowl, add arugula, strawberries, beets, avocado and crumbled feta. Add the cooled quinoa and drizzle the salad dressing over top. Toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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