Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad with Pistachios

When one thinks of food in New Orleans, the word healthy rarely comes to mind.  The Crescent City has a long history of serving rich, fried, and often over-the-top food combinations.  On a recent visit, between beignets and etouffees, I ordered a beet and quinoa salad at La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street.  It was delicious, and healthy by any cities standard.  Here’s my recreation.


3 medium heirloom beets
Olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
1 cucumber
2 stalks celery with leaves
¼ cup shelled pistachios
Sriracha mayonnaise (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper


3 TB lemon juice
2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Wash and dry beets.  Rub each beet with a small amount of olive oil.  Wrap in foil, and roast for 1 hour.  Cool, then peel the beets.  Cut each beet into 8 wedges and place in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add approximately 2 qt of water to a 3 qt sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water.  Drain very well, and place in a separate medium size mixing bowl.

Peel and seed the cucumber.  Dice cucumber and celery with leaves.  Add to the bowl with quinoa.

Toss beets with 4-5 tablespoons of dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Toss quinoa mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange beets in a row down the middle of a large serving bowl or plate.  Spoon quinoa mixture along each side.  Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise.

Sriracha Mayonnaise:  
Mix 1 cup mayo with 4-5 tablespoons sriracha, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Why this recipe is good for you…

Quinoa is full of fiber.  Fiber helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and diabetes.  Quinoa contains iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin and manganese.   All are essential to healthy blood and tissue cells.

Beets help to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and are packed with essential nutrients and fiber.

Pistachios have fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than any other nut.  They also contain 1-arginine, which helps make the lining of your arteries more flexible and less likely to develop clots.

And, of course, the sriracha mayonnaise may not be the healthiest ingredient… but it sure tastes good.

Penne with Chicken, Asparagus, Mushrooms and Lemon

pasta with chicken, mushrooms and asparagus

This delicious dinner features asparagus, which is a vegetable packed with nutrients (Vitamins A, C, E and K) and antioxidants. Asparagus is also rich with glutathione, which helps break down harmful carcinogens and helps protect us against certain forms of cancer.

This meal can be completed in 30 minutes or less.  The amounts below make enough for two hearty portions, and enough leftovers for one lunch.  If you want, add some grated Parmesan cheese at the end, but it’s not necessary.

½ box dried Penne pasta
2 chicken cutlets, about ¾ lb.
1 small bunch asparagus
8 fresh cremini or white button mushrooms
1 medium shallot
Juice of ½ lemon
Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil

Fill a 3-5 quart sauce pan with water, add about 1 t. salt, and heat on high.  Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add 2 T olive oil.

Dry the cutlets with paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and fry until lightly browned on both sides.  About 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut into ¼” slices.

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard (or save for vegetable stock, along with the mushroom stems).   Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces, about 1 inch.  Mince the shallot.

Add the sliced mushrooms and asparagus to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally.  If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil.  After 3-4 minutes, add the shallots.

Cook the pasta as directed.

When the mushrooms have given up their moisture, and the pan is almost dry, add about ¾ cup pasta water to the pan, stir, and continue to cook.

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the water.

Add the lemon juice to the mushroom, asparagus mixture.  Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken, accumulated juices, and pasta to the pan, stir, and cook for 1 more minute.  If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.

Remove pan from the heat.  Add cheese if desired and/or drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct