Roasted beets, pomegranate and kaniwa salad with sweet corn, avocado, fresh lemon, cilantro and scallions, and toasty pumpkin seeds – this salad is an explosion of colors, flavors and textures.
Back in spring, I was inspired by a little known ingredient that turned out to be a superfood as well, and I made this seeds and greens kaniwa salad with it. You can read more about kaniwa here, but in short, it’s a relative to quinoa, and has almost the same taste, and nutritional profile as quinoa, with even higher protein and iron content. While quinoa softens when cooked, and its fluffy texture makes it ideal for replacing rice in many recipes, kaniwa doesn’t puff up after cooking, but retains its size and texture. I suppose that makes it a bit less versatile, but I found it works great in salads, as a lighter alternative to quinoa.
This roasted beets, pomegranate and kaniwa salad is my latest obsession. I started with cooked kaniwa and roasted beets, then I thought it would be great to add pomegranate seeds for a burst of flavor and color, and it just got better, and better from there. Sweet roasted corn, and avocado joined the party, scallions and cilantro, lots of lemon juice, and zest, cayenne pepper for some heat, and finally toasted pumpkin seeds for a good crunch. The result was a glorious explosion of fall colors, flavors and textures!
You get three superfoods in this salad – the pomegranate, the beets, and the kaniwa. Together they take care of your vitamin C, iron, protein, minerals, and antioxidant daily needs. I especially love the pomegranate seeds in this salad – their sweet and tart flavor is a great match for the earthy sweetness of the beets, and corn. If kaniwa is hard to find, substitute with the same amount of quinoa, and keep the liquid-to-solid ratio the same.
I didn’t throw away those beautiful beet greens, but added them to the salad as well, after sauteing them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Whenever I get a fresh bunch of beets with big leafy tails, it’s a 2-for-1 deal, and I cook the greens like I would normally cook spinach, or chard.
It’s a great salad to bring to a potluck, or work lunch, as it transports really well, and can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, without affecting the taste. You might just freshen it up with more lemon juice the next day.
It’s sweet and tangy, and a little spicy with lots of freshness from the cilantro, scallions, and lemon, and a nice kick from the cayenne. The tiny kaniwa seeds, the bursts of pomegranate arils that pop in your mouth, the plump sweet corn kernels, and toasty pumpkin seeds give it an incredible texture, and a cheerful look, that deserves a spot on your holiday table for sure.
- 4 medium beets (I used a combination of red and yellow)
- ¼ cup kaniwa (or quinoa)
- ½ cup water
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup roasted corn kernels (freshly roasted are best, but frozen or canned would work too)
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (from 1 pomegranate)
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 bunch of beet greens, sauteed (optional)
- Baby greens for garnish (optional)
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 2 lemons (4-5 Tbs)
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- pinch or two of cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Quarter the beets, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour, or until they are soft.
- If you are using fresh corn, drizzle with olive oil, and salt, and wrap in foil. Put on the grill for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
- While the beets and corn are roasting, add the kaniwa and water to a small pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Let cool.
- Chop the beet greens, and stems (if using), and cook in 1-2 Tbs of olive oil with salt and pepper, until wilted.
- Chop the scallions, cilantro, and avocado, and set aside.
- Remove the pomegranate arils. Check these instructions on how to remove pomegranate seeds.
- Make a simple dressing with the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt.
- Assemble the salad by mixing the cooked kaniwa, with the roasted beets, corn, pomegranate arils, scallions, cilantro, and chopped avocado with some baby greens, and the cooked beet greens (if using). Add the dressing, mix well, and adjust the flavors if needed.
- Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds and more pomegranate arils on top, and serve.