Moroccan-Inspired Salad: Dates, Mint, Quinoa, Beets and Arugula

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During a recent après ski evening, some friends compiled a series of side dishes, and the quinoa, date and arugula salad simply stole my heart! It’s the perfect spring salad: mint, dates, peppery arugula and quinoa for some extra texture and protein. I made my own version and decided to add beets: huge win! The original concoction did not include cheese, but at a friend’s recommendation, I added some chèvre and it was a double win. Picnic season anyone?

Quinoa, Beet and Arugula Salad 

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa
  • 3 tbs olive oil, divided (I used a basil-infused olive oil)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped leeks
  • 5 chopped dates
  • 5-7 mint leaves
  • 2-3 cups fresh arugula
  • 2 boiled and skinned beets
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • vinaigrette of choice
  • chèvre cheese (optional)
  • salt to taste

Directions

The spread looks pretty even before it's put together.

The spread looks pretty even before it’s put together.

To start, marinate the skinned beets in about 1/4 cup of your preferred vinaigrette. I used the hazelnut vinaigrette from New Seasons, because, well, it’s delicious, and pre-made. I also threw in some balsamic vinegar for a little extra acidity. Set aside for anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours.

I made the quinoa according to the general instructions, but started it by heating basil-infused oil, then lightly toasted the quinoa in the oil before adding the liquid. Once the quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a frying pan, heat 1 tbs of olive oil over medium-low to sauté the leeks and dates. Once the oil is heated, add the leeks first, moving constantly so they do not brown (about 1-2 minutes). Then add the dates and continue stirring for another 3-5 min. You will notice the dates start to liquify a bit and blend in with the leeks. Take the sauté off the heat and add the mint leaves in for a few seconds, just enough time to release the aromatics. Add the sauté into the quinoa and stir until well mixed. Drizzle in vinaigrette and stir until well coated.

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Toast the hazelnuts in the same sauté frying pan for 1 minute, or until browned, then set aside. In the serving bowl, toss arugula with remaining olive oil and salt. Add in the cooled quinoa mixture, beets, cheese (if you like), and hazelnuts to garnish. Taste before serving (it may need a little extra vinaigrette or course salt to finish) and you’re set to eat!

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Bright and colorful – a beautiful contribution to any meal.

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2 thoughts on “Moroccan-Inspired Salad: Dates, Mint, Quinoa, Beets and Arugula

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