Warm Quinoa & Kale Salad with Balsamic Beets

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

Warm kale, quinoa, and balsamic beet salad is a hearty and delicious cold weather salad with only 10 ingredients.

People always say that time slows down in the summer and really, I couldn’t disagree more. I feel like we’re always shipping off here and there for whatever excursion or event from June to August. Fall is a return to comfort in routine and more simplified time spent in each other’s company. It is dependable. The leaves turn like clockwork and we turn into each other around the table, under a wooly blanket, across the classroom, wherever we may be. It is the season that brings all of our communities into focus.

So I wanted to make a salad. A warm one with hearty greens and sticky balsamic roasted beets. Some quinoa fills it all out and the pecorino gives a salty bite. You toss the whole mess of it with a muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic and oil mix that sloshes around the beets while they roast away. There was a version of this in the latest Donna Hay magazine and I was pretty jazzed to even conceive of all my favourite things in one bowl. Party time!

Big hugs,

Warm Quinoa & Kale Salad with Balsamic Beets

Warm kale, quinoa, and balsamic beet salad is a hearty and delicious cold weather salad with only 10 ingredients.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4


Balsamic Beets

  • 2 bunches baby beets, scrubbed and trimmed (about 12 beets total)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Kale, Quinoa, Assembly

  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • pecorino romano shavings, to finish (parm or grana padano would be great too)


  • If you only have access to bigger beets, just cut them into quarters or sixths pre-roasting.


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place the trimmed beets in a 2 inch deep ceramic or glass dish. Pour the balsamic vinegar and olive oil in. Sprinkle the brown sugar, salt and pepper around the beets. Cover dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the beets up a bit and continue to roast, uncovered, for 20 more minutes. They should be quite tender. Remove from the oven and allow dish to cool.
  • In a small saucepan, place the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup of water. Add a pinch of salt. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is mostly cooked and the little tails start to pop out. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and smoked paprika. Stir around until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa, a splash of water and half of the kale. Stir around until kale begins to wilt a bit. Add the remaining kale, season with salt and pepper and keep stirring. The kale should all be slightly wilted, but still firm. Take off the heat and transfer kale and quinoa mixture to your serving bowl.
  • Arrange roasted beets on top of the greens and quinoa. Drizzle salad with the balsamic cooking liquid in the pan (there should be about ¼ cup of it left). Scatter the pecorino shavings on top and serve.

11/10/2012 (Last Updated 05/08/2023)
Posted in: autumn, earthy, gluten free, kale, salad, salty, side dish, spring, sweet, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Rachel

    5 stars
    What a tasty lunch! I added more quinoa and lentils for extra protein. I love garlic so I used a whole clove just for myself. It was great.

  • Josianne

    I am forever grateful to you, for such a wonderful recipe!!! I just discovered your website and am LOVING the winter section.. Again, thank you for sharing your insights and creativity!

  • Mohana

    CAN I THANK YOU FOR INTRODUCING ME TO BEETS? I hope through all the caps you see how excited I was about this recipe. I’ve had tons of quinoa (as a new pescatarian): this was an excellent new way to add flavor and make the make of random ingredients in my fridge. Linked to the recipe on my blog so I hope that helps you get even more notice.

  • Erika

    So delicious. Thank you for gathering all my favorite things into one amazing (and easy) recipe’

  • Rachel

    trying this tonite- thank you!!

  • Christine

    I just discovered your website as I was looking for a recipe for the kale, baby beets and garlic I bought at the farmer market this morning… The recipe was delicious and your website is absolutely amazing. I just subscribed to your feed too and will definitely try your most recent recipes in the future!

  • Linda Wilson

    Wow, I am impressed and cannot wait to try your recipes. I have an abundant garden and weekly organic CSA delicacies to use up and enjoy, and your recipes are supplying my needs! Thanks Laura!

  • Mary

    At what point do you peel off the beet skins? In the pictures it looks like you didn’t, but does that make eating them problematic?

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Mary,

      I did not peel the beets in this dish. They were baby beets, so the skins were a bit thinner. I generally don’t find eating the skins of a roasted beet too bothersome. But it’s all personal preference :)

  • Julia

    I’m vegan, so I left out the Parmesan. I also used beet greens instead of kale and used regular beets and regular sugar (I’m out of raw sugar). Anyways, this was incredible!

  • muppy

    we have made this many times – love it :)

  • Ana J

    Your salad looks delicious!!!! I love the spin on a “fall” salad. What exactly is “muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic”?

    • Laura

      Hey Ana,
      It just refers to the mixture I use to roast the beets in. It’s mostly balsamic vinegar that’s been sweetened by muscovado sugar (similar to brown sugar). Hope that helps :)

  • val

    This is great, and worked well with golden beets. It also converted my quinoa-phobic husband!

  • Liz

    I found your blog through Pinterest the other day. I have been looking for a blog like this for months! Thank you for posting such thoughtful vegetarian recipes – easy enough for weeknights but beautiful for company too.

  • Spring

    Made this for dinner last night. It was sooooo delicious! Thanks for sharing, and I love your blog :)

  • Kathryn

    “Autumn is the season where we go home”…I love that and I totally didn’t realise that was how I was feeling until I read it. Love the earthy flavours of this salad.

  • sara

    doesnt the donna hay mag make you want to dive in. I get so envious and inspired when looking through those pages. This looks fabulous.

  • Elizabeth A.

    I’m not usually a huge fan of beets, but these pictures have convinced me to try again. Thank you!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This salad is a beauty!

  • J'Val Shuster

    Hello First Mess! I absolutely love your recipes and the beautiful photographs you take to go with them. I am trying to figure out when in the weekend I can make this recipe. It is the perfect blend of my favourite Fall ingredients. Thanks for such a great blog – you inspire me!

  • Felicia

    A combination of my favorite ingredients! Looks amazing. Putting this down on my things to make. Gorgeous. Thank you. xF

  • Wholesome Hedonist

    Your photos make the beets look like precious jewels…I just want to dive in to all that balsamic-y goodness (but then, you know, I’d spend the next week scrubbing the beet stain out of my skin!)


  • Kassia

    This looks phenomenal! I’m so so hungry now, and sad because we don’t get kale here in India. :(

  • Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    I totally agree with you about summer’s pace being so fast. Fall is mellow! This warm salad looks just right, and has many of my favourite things as well. And, lucky me, there is a new shop around the corner from my apartment that actually has kale! Thanks for sharing the recipe, and the fall mix. Downloading now!

  • Kimberley

    Ah yes! All of it! I have been getting all cozy and enjoying the grey days and sweaters and quiet music and cups of tea and bowls of oatmeal …. and just loving fall. You nailed it. Plus those photos are stunning!

  • Shanna

    Oh, fall. Can I just say that reading your first paragraph gave me a big smile on my face? Love this time of year. (and gorgeous salad!)