This caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado is a delicious, light & healthy salad that's perfect for a picnic, lunchbox or as a side to many a meal. It's easy to make and just what your summer menu needs.
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Over summer, our eating habits definitely change. We love spending as much time as possible outside, weather permitting of course, and so I often find we have limited time to get meals ready. Add in that our kitchen can get horribly hot, and you'll understand why we do a decent amount of grilling and salads in the summer.
But I have to say, I'm definitely not complaining. If the weather is warm, I certainly don't want anything heavy, especially for lunch, and so things like this caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado is perfect.
It's 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.
Caprese salad: perfect for sweet summer tomatoes
We try to grow some of our own tomatoes each year in our tiny garden which is not only fun for the kids, but they are delicious being so fresh. I try to find heirloom varieties which are both meaty and delicious.
Before they ripen, and to supplement, we always have to get some from the farmers market and a favorite with good tomatoes is caprese salad. We don't always add basil, as is traditional, but at least have some good mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and a little ground pepper.
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.
Avocado has a lovely mild and complementary flavor, plus is such a natural pairing with tomato. Beets might seem less natural, but add a bit more bulk without being heavy, and personally I think they pair well too. I have made this with both regular beets, which add a nice pink tinge to the quinoa, and lighter pink beets that are a little less iron-y tasting. Really, go for whichever you prefer.
How to make this colorful quinoa salad
This salad is really easy to put together and can be made partly ahead of time as well.
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil and simmer until it puffs up. Add a little oil to help loosen the grains and allow to cool.
- Cook the beet either by boiling or roasting (both this and the quinoa can be done ahead of time).
- Chop the avocado, tomato, beets, and basil and add to cooled quinoa.
- Mix the oil, balsamic and honey and drizzle over then toss gently to mix. Add mozzarella/burrata and gently mix in or spread over top, depending on how soft it is.
If you want to make this ahead of time, you can make most components in advance. I'd suggest holding back on mozzarella/burrata, avocado and basil at least until relatively near to when you are using as they are the most likely to be less good if left. But it will travel mixed up pretty well too.
Quinoa salad ideas
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, whether mild like this or a bit stronger. If you're looking for other ways with quinoa why not try these:
- Raw beet quinoa salad
- Strawberry quinoa salad with feta
- Leftover steak and quinoa bowl
- Roasted butternut squash quinoa salad
- Plus I love the sound of this Thai quinoa salad from A Spicy Perspective.
This caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado is light and flavorful and makes a perfect lunch, side or potluck dish. Especially on a warm day, it's great for giving you some energy without being too heavy.
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.
Caprese quinoa salad with beets and avocado
- ½ cup quinoa 90g, uncooked quantity
- 8 oz beets 20g
- 1 tomato medium-large
- ½ avocado
- 4 oz burrata 100g, or fresh mozzarella, approx ½ a regular ball
- 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon 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.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated, primarily with new photos.