Valentine’s Day may be the day to celebrate the love in your life. But while you’re at it, consider thinking more about your (real) heart. That’s what the American Heart Association hopes you’ll do as it celebrates Heart Health Month over the next few weeks.

If you are due for a checkup, this might be the time to schedule one. Start or recommit to an exercise routine. Of course, you’ll want to steer toward more heart-healthy food. When it comes to a healthy heart, you’ve come to the right place. Eating more vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds is definitely good for the old ticker.

Take today’s recipe for Lemony Pesto Beets With Quinoa and White Beans, which is right on track for making your heart happy.

For this beet salad, you’re going to cube and steam some beets. I cut them in 1/2-inch cubes, but any shape will do, as long as you adjust the cooking time to get them fully cooked. The pesto dressing is simple. Make sure that you completely purée the basil, garlic and pine nuts before adding the liquids, so it will be smooth. If you don’t want to spring for fresh basil, substitute fresh flat-leaf parsley for a more peppery flavor (or use a commercially made pesto).

The pilaf is easy, too. Simply sauté an onion and add the rest of the ingredients. I used white quinoa so that the beets would stand out, but you could use red, black or tri-color quinoa as an option. The canned beans are heated simply by being stirred into the hot pilaf.

If you want to get into the spirit of the occasion, consider making a heart shape with the pilaf by pressing a portion of it into a large cookie cutter on the plate, then placing a smaller cutter on top and filling it with beets.


Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan” and “Plant-Based Meats.” Find her at