Combine the freshest produce of the picnic season with nutrient-rich quinoa, hearty white beans and a quick vinaigrette for a grain salad that won’t wilt or spoil on your next outdoor adventure. Here, we mix crunchy quinoa, cooked beets, white beans, cucumber, basil, dried cranberries, pine nuts and dill, and mix it all up with a zesty dressing. Vibrant purple beets infuse the entire salad with a beautiful and subtle pink hue. While we love the summery flavour here, you can also mix and match with your favourite ingredients, adding or subtracting as you see fit.
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Preheat oven to 375ºF. Add beets to a covered ovenproof casserole dish with a splash of water or bunch up in a ball of foil. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, remove beet skins and thinly slice.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1½ cups water and quinoa to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and steam covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add to a large bowl along with beets; all mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk preserved lemon or lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Reserve.
To cooled quinoa and beets, add beans, cucumber, basil, cherries or cranberries, pine nuts, dill and prepare dressing. Mix well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to pack and serve, up to 5 days.