Valentine’s Day is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about what kind of special meal you want to put on your menu! How about a fun (and a little bit fancy) gluten-free and vegan Valentine’s Day recipe for beet tartare with avocado, puffed quinoa, and a scallion-radish salad. Filled with nutritious goodness, the beets are dressed in a sweet and tangy pomegranate vinaigrette, which is balanced with the creamy richness of avocado and the peppery brightness of radish. Crispy puffed quinoa and crunchy chia seeds round out this fun celebratory dish!
For the beets, boiling them whole makes for a really easy preparation, but you could also roast them in the oven if you prefer. Either way, adding a little bit of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt will make for a much better flavor. The vinegar and oil do an amazing job of balancing the earthy flavor that some people don’t love when it comes to beets.
Puffed quinoa? Super easy! If you ever make stovetop popcorn, it’s the same process. You can dry toast them or use a little oil, like I did. Heat the oil, and toss the quinoa until the quinoa pops and crisps up, then just remove it from the heat and sprinkle it with a little salt.
The scallions? Cut them however you want, but if you want to replicate the picture here, julienne the scallions (slice them really thinly), just the white and pale green parts, and then put them in ice water for 20-30 minutes, which will cause the scallions to curl slightly. Ice water will also cause thinly sliced radishes to curl slightly, if that’s an effect you want to use. Just remember to dry them thoroughly or you’ll wind up with a watery flavor.
When you plate the tartare, you can just make a nice pile on your plate or in a bowl, but if you want it to look like the picture, carefully press the tartare into a ring mold or cookie cutter, and then gently and carefully lift the ring off of the beets. Just make sure you don’t have a lot of dressing on the beets or they’ll bleed all over the plate. You can always drizzle more vinaigrette over the top!
For the beets
1 large (or 2-3 small) red beets
4 cups water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
For the pomegranate vinaigrette
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
For the puffed quinoa
1/4 cup quinoa
1 tsp coconut oil (or any neutral oil)
1/2 cup cooked beets, diced very small
1 Tbs vinaigrette
1 Tbs puffed quinoa
1 Tbs chia seeds
1/2 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
1 radish, julienned
1-2 scallions, julienned, kept in ice water for 20-30 minutes, drained
1/2 tsp olive oil
For the beets
Place the beets in a pot or saucepan covered with the water. Add the other ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender all the way through, approximately 45 min-1 hr, depending on the size of your beets.
Remove from water and cool.
When cool enough to handle, remove the skin (if the beets are still warm, you can just rub the skin off with a towel or your hands. Be aware that the beets will stain the towel!)
Dice very small.
For the vinaigrette
Put the pomegranate juice, sugar, and pepper in a small saucepan or pot, bring to a boil, and reduce down to 2-3 Tbs. Cool.
Whisk the mustard, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt into the reduced juice.
Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly. Taste and season.
For the quinoa
Heat a pan with the oil until nearly smoking. Add the quinoa and toss or stir frequently until quinoa is puffed and crispy. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cool.
Toss the beets and 1 Tbs vinaigrette with a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Firmly press a layer of avocado and then the beets into a ring mold or cookie cutter, if using. Top with the another layer of avocado slices and gently remove the cookie cutter.
Toss the radishes and scallions with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Plate on the tartare.
Sprinkle quinoa and chia seeds around.
Anne Bonner is a professional chef and a blogger at Tasting Everything http://tastingeverything.com/the-blog/ where you can find more of her recipes, ideas, tips, and tricks for creating beautifully healthy and frequently gluten-free food at home.