Last updated on April 23rd, 2021

Beet salad with feta cheese was a favorite dish in my childhood home. This flavorful version is grounded in the earthy tastes of quinoa, carrots, and beets. It gets a pop of fresh flavor from the tomatoes and cucumbers, while the crumbled feta and tamari sunflower seeds really make it sizzle. Perfect for parties or special dinners at home.

High-protein beet salad with feta, chickpeas, quinoa, and tamari sunflower seeds

Beet Salad with Feta or Julia’s Big Salad?

When I was a kid, my older sister’s signature dish was a beautifully complex combination of flavors we referred to as Julia’s Big Salad. We had it so often that the Big Salad was actually my only understanding of what salad was: loads of plant-based ingredients, a satisfying medley of flavors, a meal unto itself.

There were no Caesars or tossed greens for us: it was the Big Salad or nothing.

So it came as somewhat of a disappointment to me when I grew up and started going to restaurants. As a vegetarian, salad is one of my go-to dishes. But the options I found on restaurant menus were sorely lacking. It seemed I could either have a Caesar salad or a garden salad.

All the main dish salads came topped with a meat-based protein that, in my mind at least, negated the purpose of a salad. What was the point of having salad if you were just going to put meat on top?

Couldn’t salad stand alone as a completely nutritious and satisfying meal?

Why, yes. Yes it could.

Where the Beet Salad with Feta Gets its Protein

When we look at making salad into a full meal, we want to make sure we’re getting a balanced mix of carbs, fats, and proteins. Leafy greens and a few chopped veggies on their own aren’t going to leave us sated and full of energy.

We need to get creative about the ingredients we add in if we want the salad to meet our nutritional needs as well as our culinary ones.

Chickpeas, which are a great source of protein, iron, selenium, and B vitamins, were always a main feature in Julia’s Big Salad.

Bowl with chickpeas on table

But in this version of the beet salad with feta, I’ve added a generous bed of quinoa to this version. Quinoa not only has more high-quality protein than any other grain (8g per cooked cup), but it also gives us the carbs we need to stay full after our meal.

Sunflower seeds are another great source of protein and fiber.

Assembling the Salad

1. To cook the quinoa, combine it in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup water. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the water is evaporated—about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the quinoa is ready, fluff it with a fork and set it aside to cool.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, assemble and prep all other ingredients.

Prepped ingredients for the beet salad with feta: feta, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and beets

3. In a frying pan, warm the sunflower seeds over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Stir regularly. In the last minute or so, add in the tamari or soy sauce and stir constantly to avoid sticking. Set aside in a bowl to cool.

tamari sunflower seeds toasted in clay pot - the perfect topping to a beet salad with feta.
sunflower seeds toasted in clay pot

4. If you’re taking the salad to a party or potluck, you’ll want to prepare it in a large bowl. If you’re serving it to a small group, it looks beautiful if you arrange it in individual bowls. Either way, you’ll start by spreading the cooled quinoa on the bottom of the bowl and topping it with the arugula.

5. Add the chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrot, and beet.

6. Top with avocado, feta, and tamari sunflower seeds.

beet salad with feta and chickpeas can be served in an individual bowl or on a large platter

7. For the dressing: Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and drizzle over the salad or serve on the side.

beet salad with feta and chickpeas is a perfect high-protein salad for vegetarians
Chickpea, beet, and feta salad. This is one of our favorite high-protein vegetarian salads
Yield: 4 Servings

Beet Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Tamari Sunflower Seeds

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This flavorful salad is grounded in the earthy tastes of quinoa, carrots, and beets. It gets a pop of fresh flavor from the tomatoes and cucumbers, while the crumbled feta and tamari sunflower seeds really make it sizzle. Perfect for parties or special dinners at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 can (398 ml) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Long English cucumber, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 small (150g) beet, grated
  • 1 avocados, pitted and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup (80g) feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce

For the Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot (about 1/4 of a shallot)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. To cook the quinoa, combine it in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup water. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the water is evaporated—about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the quinoa is ready, fluff it with a fork and set it aside to cool.
  2. In a frying pan, warm the sunflower seeds over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Stir regularly. In the last minute or so, add in the tamari or soy sauce and stir constantly to avoid sticking. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
  3. If you're taking the salad to a party or potluck, you'll want to prepare it in a large bowl. If you're serving it to a small group, it looks beautiful if you arrange it in individual bowls. Either way, you'll start by spreading the cooled quinoa on the bottom of the bowl and topping it with the arugula.
  4. Add the chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrot, and beet.
  5. Top with avocado, feta, and tamari sunflower seeds.
  6. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and drizzle over the salad or serve on the side.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 579Total Fat: 36.2gSaturated Fat: 7.8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 40gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 433mgCarbohydrates: 54.1gFiber: 10.1gSugar: 12.1gProtein: 15.1g

Recipe analyzed by VeryWell. Nutrition information isn't always accurate.

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