Salad Bowl Recipes

Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl

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How often do you build your bowl with red foods? If you’re like many, it may not be as often as you might need to. That’s the gap my Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl aims to fill. And it’s more than just a recipe. It’s a celebration of the nutritional richness and vibrant flavors of red foods, inspired by my own personal connection to heart disease.

I recently had the honor of speaking at Morgan Stanley’s 15th Annual Go Red Women’s Leadership Event, hosted in partnership with the American Heart Association. This event is part of a national movement to combat heart disease in women – a cause that really resonates with me as heart disease has hit my family hard. I know many others share this reality too. So, I wanted to do something different, not just the usual talk about eating “right” for your heart.”

Instead, I wanted to shine a spotlight on heart-healthy red foods in my own salad-centric way – hence the inspiration for this Ruby Red Salad. Considering all the incredible health benefits red foods offer for the heart, blood vessels and brain, and even their role in immune system protection and cancer prevention, it’s never been more important for us to add more of them to our bowls and our everyday diets.

With layers like roasted beets, red bell pepper, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds and red quinoa, my Ruby Red Salad Bowl combines a vibrant mix of some of the best red foods out there, offering a burst of flavor and health-boosting benefits in every bite. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free, vegan-friendly and easily adaptable, making it a great choice for practically any eating style. Once you’ve experienced this crimson crunch, you’ll see red foods in a whole new light.

THE BALANCING ACT

If you follow That Salad Lady, you already know I’m all about building your bowl with a rainbow of colors. But red foods themselves are among the best of the best colors. In fact, their rich red hues are owed to phytonutrients like anthocyanins, beta-carotene and lycopene, which each function as antioxidants. Collectively these antioxidants not only do wonders for our hearts, but they also help us age gracefully, fight cancer, and even support gut and bladder health.

Besides being nutritional powerhouses, these foods are chock-full of great flavors too. Now, I know some folks might be hesitant about beets due to their earthy flavor. But the magic happens when you blend them into a mix where each layer enhances the others. It’s all about creating the perfect flavor balance.

By combining the earthiness of beets with the natural sweetness of red apples and strawberries, the refreshing tang of red bell peppers, the ripe juiciness of tomatoes, the sharp burst of pomegranate seeds and the rich, nutty flavor of red quinoa, you’ve got a bowl that’s perfectly balanced in flavor. And, trust me, there are even more delicious surprises waiting in this bowl, including a light and bright red wine vinaigrette dressing to tie everything together.

So, if the thought of beets has you on the fence, or the idea of mixing fruits and veggies in one bowl seems odd, this Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl is here to turn your skepticism into love at first bite. Now, let’s peel back the layers of this flavor-packed bowl to discover what makes it downright delicious.

A Hearty Base of Leafy Reds

My Ruby Red Salad kicks off with a combination of red leaf lettuce and red chard. These aren’t just any greens; their rich red shades come from anthocyanins, which you’ll find in all the salad’s red layers. But it’s not all about their reddish colors. These greens pack a serious nutritional punch, loaded with vitamin K, which is key for heart health and blood clotting. So, the mix doesn’t just look good; it boosts its nutritional value, making for a hearty, healthy start.

Now, the greens themselves offer a perfect balance of mild earthiness and subtle sweetness that complements the beets and everything else in the bowl beautifully. And if you happen to have beet greens on hand, go ahead and add them too – they integrate well, bringing additional depth and a hint of bitterness that nicely offsets the overall sweetness. 

The Core of Ruby Red Veggies

Beets and red bell peppers form the vibrant core of the bowl, bringing their deep red colors, great flavors and plenty of nutrients to the mix. Yes, beets are earthy. But when they’re roasted, that earthiness transforms into a sweet, caramel-like flavor making them a game-changer in salads. And, best of all, beets offer a hefty dose of antioxidants, fiber and nitrates that boost heart health, enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure.

Then there are the red bell peppers, which are brighter and sweeter than their colorful counterparts and even richer in antioxidants that strengthen immunity and improve skin health. Though this is a “ruby red” bowl, you can certainly use other colors too. Whether red, orange or yellow, the tangy crunch of bell peppers contrasts perfectly with the softer textures in the bowl.

Sweet Touches of Red Fruits

My Ruby Red Salad Bowl gets a huge burst of flavor and color from a delicious mix of Fuji apple, grape tomatoes, strawberries and pomegranate seeds. These sweet touches not only brighten the bowl but also enriches it with vital nutrients. Apples, for instance, are packed with fiber, which aids in good digestion and cholesterol control. Any red apples work so long as they’re crisp and super sweet. It’s the sweetness that cuts through the earthiness of the beets.

Now, the tomatoes add a rich supply of lycopene, known for its benefits in heart health and cancer prevention. All red tomatoes are rich in lycopene, so feel free to use any red variety you have on hand. And of course, there are the strawberries and pomegranate seeds, which are packed with antioxidants that aid in managing cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. These berries are particularly effective at boosting heart health and lowering inflammation.

The toughest part might just be not eating all these sweet reds before they hit the bowl. But even if you’re not building a bowl, adding a few of these fruits to your meals or snacking on them is a quick and easy way to get in a range of nutrients that support overall good health.

Red Grains for More Gains

Now, red quinoa really shines in this bowl, bringing a nutty taste and a delightful crunch that, to me, steals the show. And it’s not just about the texture and the extra pop of red; quinoa itself is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with B vitamins, iron and fiber. What makes red quinoa truly stand out is its antioxidant content, which is higher than other quinoa types. But color aside, all quinoa is rich in high-quality protein, offering a complete set of all nine essential amino acids.

This is uncommon for plant-based foods, as those considered high in protein typically lack one or more essential amino acids and are, therefore, incomplete sources. So, if you’re following a 100% plant-based diet, quinoa is an invaluable source of protein, ensuring you meet your nutritional needs. 

Beyond the Reds: Optional Extras

For extra texture and flavor, I include some optional layers in the bowl. A sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese introduces a creamy richness, not to mention it’s a good source of protein, calcium and quality fats, which are great for bone health and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Then, there are the toasted walnuts, which not only add a satisfying crunch but are also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, known for their brain health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Lastly, a handful of freshly chopped herbs not only gives the salad a burst of freshness but also brings in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support overall health and wellness. These additions complement the salad perfectly, offering more than just flavor and texture – they really bump up the health benefits, fitting right in with the bowl’s red theme.

The Dressing That Ties It All Together

What really brings this Ruby Red Salad Bowl to life is my red wine vinaigrette dressing. It’s a simple mix of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), red wine vinegar, a bit of pure maple syrup (or pure honey) for some sweetness and freshly minced garlic for that extra zing. The EVOO, being full fat, is key here because it helps your body soak up all the vitamins and antioxidants housed in the fresh layers, so you get the most out of every bite.

It’s a super easy blend to build – just a quick whisk or shake of the ingredients, and in about five minutes, you’ve got a dressing that elevates the salad to new heights.

GET COOKING

For this bowl, a little cooking is necessary, specifically for the beets, quinoa and, optionally, the walnuts. Each step is pretty simple and straightforward, so you can easily follow along.

Oven Roast the Beets

First up, the beets. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Before anything else, give your beets a really good wash to remove any dirt or debris as you’ll be roasting them with their skins on. Beet skins are totally edible and even add extra nutrients. If you prefer them skinless, it’s still easier to peel the beets after they’ve been cooked. When the beets are clean, trim the tops and bottoms, cut the beets in half and place them on a lightly greased baking dish. From there, drizzle the beets with EVOO and season with kosher or coarse salt and pepper.

Cover the baking dish with foil and roast the beets until they’re tender enough to be pierced with a fork, which should take about 50-60 minutes. After roasting, let the beets cool for 5-10 minutes. If you’re removing the skins, now is the time; they should peel off easily. Be prepared for a bit of staining from the beets’ vivid pigment. Wearing cooking gloves or using a paper towel can help minimize this. Once peeled (if desired), slice and then dice the beets into small cubes and set them aside until you’re ready to build your salad bowl.

Rinse and Boil the Quinoa

While the beets are roasting, it’s the perfect time to prepare the quinoa. Start by rinsing the quinoa under cold water in a fine-mesh strainer. If you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer, just use a coffee filter. This is an important step as quinoa is naturally coated with compounds called saponins, which give the grains a bitter taste. After rinsing and draining, transfer the quinoa to a saucepan and add either water or vegetable broth. Using broth adds an extra layer of flavor that really elevates the bowl.

For one cup of uncooked quinoa, you’ll want to use two cups of water or broth. Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat and then lower the temperature to medium-low and cover it as it simmers. You’ll want to cook the quinoa until it’s absorbed all the liquid (about 10-15 minutes). At this point, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set it aside until you’re ready to build your bowl.

Toast the Walnuts (Optional)

If you’re including walnuts, they can be easily toasted in the oven set to 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes. This simple step enhances their flavor and adds a delightful crunch to your salad.

GET YOUR CHOP ON

While the beets are roasting and the quinoa is cooking, you can prepare all the fresh layers for the bowl. As always, a good sharp chef’s knife is a must. It’s all about making your prep work quicker, easier and cleaner.

I suggest starting with the red leaf lettuce and red chard. After a thorough wash and drying, chop these greens into bite-sized pieces, making sure to remove the chard stems first. Don’t throw away the stems though. They can be diced and sautéed for other recipes. After chopping, it’s also a good idea to rinse the greens again and then dry them thoroughly using a salad spinner, a colander or a strainer basket (check out my YouTube segment for lots of helpful prepping tips for leafy greens).

Next, move on to slicing the red bell pepper into pieces that are easy to eat and dicing a Fuji apple or any sweet red apple of choice. I suggest dicing the apple right before you’re ready to build the bowl – this way it’s fresh and crisp. Continue by halving a cup of grape tomatoes and slicing a cup of strawberries. Now, while pre-packaged pomegranate seeds are an option, seeding a whole pomegranate at home is a great way to ensure freshness and nutritional value.

Finally, if you’re planning to use herbs, a quick chop is all they need. I prefer using fresh parsley, but basil is a great alternative too.

START MIXING

After cooking and prepping the salad layers, the final step is easy – the dressing. You’ll need to mince the garlic first with a good quality chef’s knife or a garlic press. While you can use jarred minced garlic as a “shortcut,” I don’t recommend doing this. Jarred versions are not as nutrient rich as freshly minced garlic and tend to have “off” flavors, which’ll be detectable in your finished dressing. Trust me, the additional step is well worth it.

From there simply add the EVOO, red wine vinegar, garlic and pure maple syrup (or honey) to a dressing shaker or a jar with a tight lid and give it a good shake until well combined. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL

Now for the best part: building your Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl. Start by tossing the red leaf lettuce and red chard leaves together in a large bowl. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper with a drizzle of your homemade dressing, and then give the greens a good mix. You’ll want to add just enough dressing to season the greens without making them soggy. This way, you keep the salad crisp, light and packed with its natural nutrition.

From there, it’s time to add all the ruby reds and optional layers. You can either arrange the beets, bell pepper, tomatoes, apple, quinoa and strawberries in their own sections of the bowl for a visually stunning display, or simply layer them on top of the greens. If you like, drizzle a bit more dressing over these layers for extra flavor. Finish the bowl with sprinkles of pomegranate seeds and, if using, goat cheese, walnuts and/or parsley. Be sure to check out my YouTube segment to see how I build my bowl.

This Ruby Red Salad is perfect for a nutritious lunch or a light dinner and is easily adaptable to any portion size. The recipe itself makes enough for four generous servings. To ensure freshness, it’s best to dress and build the salad just before serving to avoid sogginess. If there are leftovers, they can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days; just keep all the layers separate to maintain their crispness. The dressing remains fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

So, whenever you’re ready for a delicious bowl that’s bursting with good nutrition, just grab your layers from the fridge, dress and assembled them to your liking, and enjoy!

Add Your Finishing Touches

After putting together your Ruby Red Salad Bowl, you still have the chance to personalize it according to your taste and health goals. Want to boost the protein content and make your salad even more satisfying? Feel free to add your preferred protein. Chopped chicken breast, shredded salmon or roasted tofu for a plant-based choice are all excellent options to enhance your bowl.

Be sure to visit my Nutrition Glossary for more ideas and inspiration. Here, you’ll find lots of information and tips about some of my favorite layers, empowering you to create a salad bowl that truly reflects your personal preferences. Remember, the beauty of this salad is its versatility. And it’s all about building a bowl that works for you!

LET ME SEE YOUR BOWL

That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl. If you enjoy this Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl, which I’m quite sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram (@that.salad.lady) and TikTok (@thatsaladlady). Add the hashtags #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl too. If you really love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook using #thatsaladlady.

Hearty Ruby Red Salad Bowl

0.0 from 0 votes
Recipe by That Salad Lady Course: Main, SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep Time

20

minutes
Cooking Time

1

hour 
Calories*

400

kcal
Total Time

1

hour 

20

minutes

Packed with fresh, antioxidant-rich layers, this Ruby Red Salad Bowl offers a tasty way to boost your heart health and overall well-being.

Ingredients

  • Base Salad Blend
  • 2-3 cups red leaf lettuce, washed and chopped**

  • 2-3 cups red chard, washed and chopped (see notes)

  • 2 medium beets, diced (see directions for prepping tips)

  • 1 cup red quinoa, uncooked (see directions for cooking)***

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water (for cooking the quinoa, see notes)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced or sliced

  • 1 Fuji or other sweet red apple, diced

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced

  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (for roasting the beets)

  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  • Optional Salad Layers
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts****

  • Fresh herbs like parsley or basil, to taste

  • Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or pure honey

  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced

  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Prepare the Beets
  • Remove the beet greens by hand or with a knife. Prepping Tip: Don’t throw away the greens. Beet greens are totally edible and can be added to smoothies or sautéed just as you would sauté spinach, kale or other leafy greens. You can even chop them up and mix them with the other greens in the bowl.
  • Rinse and scrub the beets in cold water to remove all loose dirt and debris. You can use a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar or a vegetable wash if you have one.
  • For an even more thorough rinse, scrub the beets with a clean, rough sponge.
  • Dry the beets with a clean dishcloth or paper towels.
  • Roast the Beets
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Trim the tops and bottoms of the beets and cut them in half.
  • Spread the beet halves on a lightly greased baking dish and then drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Cover the dish with foil and roast the beets in the oven until they’re tender when poked with a fork (about 50-60 minutes).
  • Let the beets cool for 5-10 minutes and then gently peel off their skins or even leave the skins on. If peeling the skins off, you can wear cooking gloves or use a paper towel to avoid hand staining.
  • Slice and then dice the beets into small cubes and set aside.
  • Cook the Quinoa
  • Rinse quinoa under cold water in a fine-mesh strainer. If you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer, just use a coffee filter. This is an important step as quinoa is naturally coated with compounds called saponins, which give the grains a bitter taste.
  • Drain rinsed quinoa and add it to a saucepan filled with 2 cups of broth or water.
  • Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat, lower the temperature to medium-low, and then cover the saucepan as it simmers.
  • Cook the quinoa until it has absorbed all the liquid (about 10-15 minutes) and then remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set it aside.
  • Mix the Dressing
  • Add all the ingredients to a dressing shaker or a jar with a twist off lid and shake it up until everything’s well-mixed.
  • You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Feel free to double the recipe if you wish. In an airtight container, leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days.
  • Build the Salad
  • In a large salad bowl, combine the red leaf lettuce and red chard (or whatever leafy greens you choose).
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, mix in half the dressing, and toss until the greens are evenly coated.
  • To the dressed greens, add the beets, bell pepper, tomatoes, apple, quinoa and strawberries. You can either arrange these ingredients in their own sections of the bowl, or simply layer them on top of the greens and then gently toss them to combine.
  • Drizzle with more dressing if needed.
  • Add sprinkles of pomegranate seeds and, if using, goat cheese, nuts and fresh herbs, along with more pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy immediately or chill until ready to serve.*****

Recipe Video

Notes

  • *The calorie count listed, and other nutrition information provided for this salad does not include optional layers.
  • **While I prefer red leaf lettuce and red chard for their vibrant colors and textures, feel free to use any combination of leafy greens that suits your taste.
  • ***Compared to white quinoa, red quinoa has a stronger, nuttier flavor. It also holds its texture slightly better than white. You can substitute black quinoa for red, as it has similar texture and is equally nutritious. I prefer to cook my quinoa in vegetable broth for added flavor, but you also use water.
  • ****Toasted walnuts bring great crunch to the bowl and toasting is a super simple process. Simply add the walnuts to a cookie sheet and bake them at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Check the walnuts frequently as they burn easily and quickly. You can follow the same process using almonds, pecans or cashews.
  • *****For maximum freshness and to prevent soggy greens, it’s best to store any leftover salad layers and dressing separately. Salad layers should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When stored this way they’ll keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Store the dressing in its own airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 5-7 days.
  • To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your salad throw in a handful of chopped chicken breast, shredded salmon, or roasted tofu for a plant-based choice.

This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.

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