This caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado is a delicious, light & healthy salad that’s perfect for a picnic, potluck or as a side to eg grilled meats.
We’ve had a bit of a break from the heat in the last week and I have to say, it has been great. I like that I spend most of my time outside at the moment but when it was super hot a couple weeks ago, it was too much for me and the kids so we ended up indoors at least half of most days. Maybe partly being from a place where you got excited for sunny, dry days, it felt wrong to not be outside but it had to be done.
At least now we can get back to enjoying a nice balance of sun and heat and so spend lots of time in the parks. It’s also the sort of weather where salads like this caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado make the perfect lunch – not too heavy, full of delicious fresh flavors and yet filling enough to power you through the rest of the day. It’s a wonderful mix of textures and colors, and better yet it’s healthy and easy.
So far this year we have only managed to harvest one of our homegrown tomatoes but it looks like we will have some more soon which we are all excited about. My toddler son keeps eying up the plants hopefully and took no time devouring most of the first one we picked. I’m looking forward to enjoying some of the next ones, as we did last year, served simply with mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and ground pepper, maybe some basil. It was partly the thought of this that inspired this caprese quinoa salad as a more substantial way of enjoying the same delicious flavors, with a few more favorites added in.
Quinoa’s light texture is great for salads that fill you up without feeling heavy. It also acts as a bit of a sponge for flavors and so pairs well with more delicate ones as in this caprese quinoa salad where you really want to be able to appreciate the tomato, mozzarella, beets and avocado, as well as the balsamic dressing and basil that top it off. In fact, this salad was made extra special with burrata rather than ‘regular’ mozzarella and I also had this lighter pink beets rather than regular red ones which are a little less iron-y tasting and don’t color the quinoa pink (though that does look pretty too).
How it’s made
This salad is really easy to put together and a great one to take along for a picnic or otherwise on the go. You can make most of it up the day before, cooking the beets and quinoa ahead of that even. Then add in the avocado, tomato, basil and mozzarella not too long before you either eat or take it with you to keep them as fresh and intact as possible (although they will still last pretty well with the dressing). In all there is only a little bit of cooking and chopping and you can cook larger batches of beet and quinoa to make it more than once with the rest of the ingredients added when you need it.
I made this a couple weeks ago for lunch in the park and we enjoyed it so much, we had it again a couple days later when we went to the Boston harbor islands. So I can confirm it holds up to traveling by boat (though not one quite as fancy as some we could see from the islands).
This caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado is light and flavorful and makes a perfect lunch on a warm day when you know you need to eat but you don’t want to feel too full. It would also make a great side for a potluck as well as alongside grilled meats and much more. It is a delicious plate of summery goodness, that we immediately loved and I hope you will too. Being easy and healthy as well, there’s all the more reason why you will.
A twist on the classic combination, this caprese quinoa salad is that bit heartier and perfect for lunch.
- 1/2 cup quinoa 90g, uncooked quantity
- 8 oz beets 20g
- 1 tomato medium-large
- 1/2 avocado
- 4 oz burrata 100g, or fresh mozzarella, approx 1/2 a regular ball
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 6 basil leaves approx
Cook the quinoa following packet instructions - generally put the quinoa in a pan with 1 cup/250ml water, bring to a boil, covered. Reduce to a simmer and cook approx 10min until the tendrils have separated a little and the water has been absorbed.
Remove the quinoa from the heat and allow to cool - add 1tbsp olive oil as it is cooling and toss to help loosen the grains. The quinoa can be cooked a day or two ahead and stored in the fridge until ready.
Cook the beets as you prefer, either roasting, wrapped in foil, at approx 375/400F(190/200C) or boiling, in both cases whole with skin on. Exact time will vary depending on size of the beets but approx 40min is a good guage. They are ready when the are tender to the knifepoint - allow to cool. The beets can also be cooked ahead of time and kept refrigerated for a couple days.
When ready to make up the salad, peel and roughly chop the beets, chop the tomato and avocado into small bite-sized pieces. Mix all of them with the quinoa. Roughly chop the burrata/mozzarella.
Whisk together the remaining 2tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and pour over the quinoa. Finely slice the basil leaves and toss those through the quinoa so they and the dressing are well mixed. Do this gently so you don't break everything up. Add the burrata/mozzarella either on top or gently mixed in. Can be made ahead and eaten a few hours later, if kept cool, eg for picnic.
Try these other tasty ways with quinoa:
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