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Quinoa Avocado Salad with Roasted Carrots and Beets

Packed with healthy greens, quinoa, roasted carrots and beets, and drizzled with a delicious orange-balsamic dressing, this quinoa avocado salad is a wonderful addition to your next holiday or friends gathering.

This is not your simple green side salad. It’s substantial. It has lots of interesting flavors, colors and textures. Simply delish.

quinoa avocado salad with roasted carrots and beets on white plate.

What to expect

This hearty vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free salad is a terrific combination of earthy beets, creamy avocado, caramelized carrots, zesty orange, and slightly crunchy quinoa. The rich, bright, and smooth orange-balsamic-honey dressing is sensational with this salad.

Roasting the beets and carrots takes a bit of extra time, but it’s worth the effort I think. There are some perfectly good shortcuts you can take though.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

Ingredients: Quinoa, salad greens, carrots, beets, avocado and orange-balsamic-honey dressing.

Quinoa: I use red quinoa for drama. Regular, black or tri-colored quinoa are good too.

Carrots: You can use regular orange carrots, or if you prefer, yellow, white, red or purple carrots (often sold together as rainbow carrots).

Salad greens: I like to use watercress, but most leafy greens will work such as spring mix, arugula, romaine, and frisée lettuce.

Beets: Use any color beets or a combination of red beets, yellow beets or multi-colored beets.

Dressing: The dressing ingredients include orange juice and zest, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Other variations and substitutes

  • Substitutes
    • Try cubed sweet potato, parsnips or butternut squash instead of carrots.
    • Instead of orange, add a tangier twist with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
    • Substitute maple syrup for the honey.
  • Add-in options:
    • Crumbled goat cheese is a great option. Or feta if you like stronger cheese.
    • Toasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
    • Raisins and/or dried cranberries
    • Fresh herbs such as fresh cilantro, parsley or basil.
    • Other roasted veggies like red onion or bell pepper
    • Fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half.
  • Instead of roasting the carrots, try using our Grilled Carrots with Balsamic Glaze in this salad.

Step by step instructions

water spray rinsing red quinoa in colander.
Rinse the uncooked quinoa and cook covered. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and let cool.
raw carrot sticks and foil wrapped beets on sheet pan.
Prepare and roast carrots and beets (or buy pre-roasted beets).
roasted red and yellow beets cubed on plate.

Roast vegetables until tender and caramelized. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

quinoa avocado salad with roasted carrots and beets on white plate.
Add the greens to a large bowl or serving plate. Add the roasted vegetables, quinoa, and diced avocado. Drizzle dressing over the salad.
quinoa avocado salad with roasted carrots and beets and goat cheese on white plate.
Garnish with goat cheese or optional add-ins if you like before serving.

Recipe FAQs

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a seed often mistaken for a grain due to its appearance, is considered gluten-free whole grains with numerous nutritional benefits according to Healthline. With over 3000 varieties available, including black, red, and tri-color, quinoa offers a versatile range of options for cooking.

Do I have to rinse quinoa before cooking?

Quinoa can have a bitter taste caused by the protective coat on the outside of the seed called saponin. Even though most Quinoa is pre-rinsed when you buy it, I would give it a quick rinse just in case.

Can I use substitute canned beets for roasted beets?

Yes, you can use canned beets, keeping in mind they are softer and milder than roasted beets with a less intense and less earthy taste.

Shortcuts

  1. Buy pre-roasted beets – they come in a package in most grocery stores. Alternatively, microwave the beets which is quicker than roasting them. But keep in mind that you are roasting the carrots. Here’s a microwave beet recipe.
  2. Use leftover quinoa or pick it up at a deli counter in your local grocery store.
  3. Use a store-bought dressing for drizzling such as Balsamic, Honey Mustard or Poppy Seed.

Make Ahead 

  • The carrots, beets, quinoa and dressing can all be made earlier in the day or a couple of days ahead. Assemble the salad before serving.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for a day (or two if the dressing and avocado are not added)

What to serve with this quinoa salad recipe

For a full meal, consider serving the quinoa avocado salad with Vegetable Bean and Barley Soup, Red Lentil Vegetable Soup or Squash, Sweet Potato & Mandarin Soup.

Or serve the salad as a side dish with a main course of Maple Balsamic Rainbow Trout, Sous Vide New York Strip Steak, Crispy Baked Fish, Marinated Grilled Pork Chops or Grilled Vietnamese Chicken.

quinoa avocado salad with roasted carrots and beets on white plate.

Other delicious salad recipes

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quinoa avocado salad with roasted carrots and beets on white plate.
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Quinoa Avocado Salad with Roasted Carrots and Beets

Loaded with healthy greens, roasted carrots and beets, and drizzled with a delicious orange-balsamic dressing, this quinoa avocado salad is a wonderful addition to your next holiday or friends gathering.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 sides (or 2 mains)

Ingredients

Quinoa

  • 1 cup red quinoa (or regular or tri-colored quinoa)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted carrots and beets

  • 4 small beets, red or golden (or combination)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 x 4 inch (1.3 x 10 cm) sticks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large orange (zest plus 1 tablespoon juice for dressing)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced

Orange-Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salad

  • 4 cups watercress (or 4-6 cups mixed spring salad greens)
  • Optional garnish: crumbled goat cheese, toasted nuts and/or raisins

Instructions

  • MAKE QUINOA: Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer for 2 minutes. Place rinsed quinoa in medium-sized saucepan with water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with fork and let it cool while carrots and beets are roasting. You can cool in the fridge if time is short.
  • PREPARE CARROTS AND BEETS: Heat oven to 425F/218C. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil and spray well with oil (or use parchment paper).
    BEETS: Scrub the beets under running water to remove dirt and sand. Oil the beets, then wrap tightly in tin foil. Place them on one end of the pan. For a shortcut, buy roasted beets instead.
    CARROTS: In a medium bowl, mix together oil, honey, nutmeg, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Add carrots and toss. Lay in single layer on the prepared pan.
  • ROAST CARROTS AND BEETS: Roast vegetables for about 20-25 minutes, turning carrots once, until carrots are tender and caramelized. Spoon onto a plate. If beets pierce easily with a knife, they are ready, Otherwise, continue roasting for another 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Over the sink, slide off the skins. Wash your hands right away to avoid stains from the beet juice. Dice into 1/2 inch/1.27 cm pieces.
  • MAKE DRESSING: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small measuring cup and whisk until well blended.
  • ASSEMBLE SALAD: In a large wide-mouthed bowl, toss together watercress and 2 cups of quinoa (save the rest for another use). Distribute roasted carrots and beets and diced avocado evenly. Add goat cheese, raisins and/or nuts if using. Drizzle dressing just before serving over salad.

Recipe Notes

  1. Variations:
    • Try cubed sweet potato, parsnips or butternut squash instead of carrots.
    • Instead of orange, add a tangier twist with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
    • Add-in options:
      • Crumbled goat cheese is a great option. Or feta if you like stronger cheese.
      • Toasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
      • Raisins and/or dried cranberries
      • Fresh herbs such as fresh cilantro, parsley or basil.
      • Other roasted veggies like red onion or bell pepper
      • Fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half
  2. Shortcuts
    • Microwave the beets. Here’s a microwave beet recipe. Or even easier, buy pre-roasted beets found packaged in most grocery stores.
    • Use leftover quinoa or pick it up at a deli counter in your local grocery store.
    • Use a store-bought dressing for drizzling such as Balsamic, Honey Mustard or Poppy Seed.
  3. Make Ahead: The carrots, beets, quinoa and dressing can all be made earlier in the day or a couple of days ahead. Assemble the salad before serving. 
 
Nutrition value estimates do not include optional add-ins and are based on one-sixth of the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 712mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 5935IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2mg
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