Get Baked: Beet-ing Hearts & Citrus Quinoa Salad for Your Most Colorful Valentine’s Day Ever

What says “I love you” or any other variation of it, more than “I carved these beets into hearts for you”? That’s what you’re going to do for your honey boo boo on Valentine’s Day. You’re going to make this heart-y salad as an awesome vegetarian dinner or as a side. This recipe calls for blood oranges and kumquats which are currently in season, but if you can’t find them, substitute with another type of citrus.

I heart Trader Joe's.

I heart Trader Joe’s.


For dressing:
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons grated blood orange rind
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (or not, I didn’t have any)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup blood orange sections, chopped (about 4 medium blood oranges)
1 cup diced peeled avocado
6 whole kumquats, seeded and sliced
2 medium beets (buy pre-packaged ones, it’ll make your life easier!)

Eyeball how much you want to chop.

Eyeball how much you want to chop.

So basically the dressing exists to add FLAVA to your quinoa. I didn’t have coriander so I didn’t add that and I backed off on the cumin because for me, it has this overpowering taste/smell. Just so you know, I never measure anything. I just eyeball it and go with my gut/tastebuds. So, You Do You.

To make the dressing, chop up your cilantro and green onions and add in a bowl. Then zest the citrus right on top. I would recommend using a microplane grater, but if you don’t have one, just use a plane ol’ grater. After you seed the citrus, squeeze blood orange and lemon juice into the bowl. (I used more than what the recipe called for because my blood oranges were small.) Next, add all the spices. Then gradually add the oil, stirring with a whisk constantly. Set aside.

To make the salad, rinse and drain quinoa. (This sounds easy, but it wasn’t for me. I spilled quinoa all over the counter. Sad face.) Then follow directions on the quinoa package to make it. Usually it goes like this: place one cup of uncooked quinoa and two cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until all water is absorbed.


While that is happening, chop your blood oranges into sections. Honestly, I didn’t know how to do this so I just followed my heart. I’m sure there is a way to seed the blood oranges that makes this prettier or easier but this is how I did it: I cut the blood orange in half and then into quarters and then used my thumb to remove the citrus peel.

Warning: After you do this, your kitchen will look like a scene from the zombie apocalypse. Blood… orange juice everrrywhere.

After you think you chopped up enough blood oranges, slice your kumquats. Say it with me, kuuummmquuuaaatsss. The recipe calls for you to seed and slice the kumquats but I didn’t do that because I was lazy. So I just cut the ends off and sliced it in half. I would recommend slicing them though for easier consumption. (You don’t need to peel them! You’re supposed to eat the peels! I know, what a world.)

Finally comes your shiny moment! Carving hearts out of beets. It’s super easy! I bought the “ready to use” beets from Trader Joe’s so I didn’t have to mess with preparing some beets. So to carve a heart: I sliced the beet in half and then used the tip of my knife to carve out a V at the top of the beet and then kinda rounded out the top of it to resemble a heart. Then I cut the sides to make the point at the bottom. Don’t discard the little slivers of beet, just add them in your salad. Next, slice an avocado.

My heart beets for only you.

My heart beets for only you.

After your quinoa is ready, serve some in a bowl. Drizzle your dressing on top of the quinoa and mix it around. Add your blood orange sections and kumquats. Add avocado slices and finally top with your beet-ing hearts. Enjoy with your SOS or by yourself — or pretend you’re a blood-thirsty zombie eating your ex’s heart, doesn’t matter really.


Now you have a beautiful meal or side dish full of flavor, texture, vibrant colors and love!

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Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.


  1. I actually started hyperventilating a little when I read the headline on this story. Who needs a lover when I can have beets, quinoa, citrus, and avocado IN ONE BOWL?!!

    • they are the same plant but ‘cilantro’ refers to the leaves and ‘coriander’ refers to the seeds, usually ground. in some regions ‘coriander’ refers to the leaves and ‘coriander seeds’ refers to the…. seeds.

      they do have really different flavors though.

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