Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Lately the questions, "What can the baby eat?" and "What will my toddlers eat with minimal complaining?" seem to drive my meal planning. I feel like I've lost a bit of my joy in the kitchen. I still love cooking, of course, and I'm grateful I even have the luxury of choice in what I make for dinner. But I've found myself stuck in what's practical. I miss asking, "What can I make that nourishes body and soul? What can I make that delights?"

This dish is an answer to those questions. It's nourishing for body and soul, and it's one of my new favorite salads. It's got a slight kick from the arugula and Dijon but then richness from the goat cheese and sweetness from the cherries. Hearty, healthy, sweet, and savory.

And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’…And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
— (Genesis 1:29-31)

I generally serve my kids at least a version of what we eat for dinner, but my twins often do better eating the components of a dish separated. For this one, I'll give them a scoop of plain quinoa, a handful of walnuts and dried cherries, and then add chicken or whatever else to their plates. That way, they try new foods and eat what we eat, but they also have something a little more palatable. (I don't know if that's the right way to feed toddlers. I could be doing it all wrong, but hey, we're all just figuring this out as we go, right?)

It's easy to get bogged down in the utilitarian that we forget the beauty of variety and the joy of cooking. After all, our God could have only provided the basics needed to keep us alive, but instead, he gave us thousands of foods with endless combinations. So every once in a while, regardless of how your kids eat, treat yourself to something you love, something that delights. After all, I think when we delight in God's good gifts, we can taste that the Giver himself is good. 

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries
Yields 4 entree-sized portions

1 cup quinoa
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Arugula or other salad greens (optional)

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water. (Quinoa has a natural coating that can taste bitter or soapy, but you can get rid of this coating by rinsing it well.) Add the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat, and let it stand for about 5 minutes (keeping it covered!). Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool while you prep the dressing and other ingredients. 

For the dressing, in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Cover and shake vigorously until all the ingredients are mixed well. 

In a medium bowl, add the cherries, walnuts, and rosemary. Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl, and stir everything together. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Mix well. Add more dressing if desired, reserving some for serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I added about another ¼ teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper). 

Transfer the quinoa salad to a serving dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese, if using. Serve on its own or over arugula or other salad greens.* 

Drizzle each portion with some of the remaining dressing and garnish with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!

*Rather than serving the quinoa on top of greens, you can also add a few handfuls of arugula right into the quinoa mixture. Pour the rest of the salad dressing on it, and toss well. The arugula will wilt slightly with the dressing, so serve immediately. 


Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette [and why I celebrate]

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

Many of us will gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving in a couple days, and if your family is anything like mine, there will be an abundance of food. We’ll talk and eat and laugh and eat some more. We’ll all go home with leftovers for a week, and you’d better believe I’m already thinking about the turkey sandwich I’ll make the next day. 

Thanksgiving dinner is the quintessential feast. 

Feasting demonstrates bounty, abundance, provision, security, generosity, beauty, enjoyment - all things we want to see and experience when we celebrate the holidays. But whether it’s Thanksgiving, a birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion we commemorate, we don’t just celebrate merely to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s so much more than that. 

As Christians, our eating and drinking and gathering around the table point to the ultimate celebration and the feast we will one day enjoy in the new creation. 

Isaiah 25:6-9 says, 

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The Christian community is the beginning and sign of God’s coming world - and no more so than when we eat together. Our meals are a foretaste of the future messianic banquet. Our meals reveal the identity of Jesus. Our meals are a proclamation and demonstration of God’s good news.
— Tim Chester, "A Meal with Jesus"

Whatever holiday it happens to be, we celebrate because we have the promise of eternal celebration. Our God will swallow up death forever. If that is not a reality worth celebrating, I’m not sure what is. We celebrate because we rejoice in the salvation we have received from God, for without this, any celebration on earth is temporal. But here on earth, we have the opportunity to depict the glorious celebration that we will someday be a part of in the new creation. 

God throws a party for his people, a party with the richest food and the best wine. It’s a feast incomparable to any we could enjoy in this life, but one we can look forward to with longing and expectation. 

As we feast now, as we celebrate the mundane or extraordinary moments of our lives this side of glory, may we do so remembering what is yet to come. As new creation people, this is why we’ll gather at the table on Thursday. Our feasts are a glimpse of the joy we have in salvation and joy yet to be revealed when we’ll sit at the table with Him and say, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” 

So eat and drink. Enjoy the turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. Celebrate with everything that you have, and welcome others to your table. Let your laughter and fellowship be a joyful celebration that points to the ultimate feast we long for in the new creation. 

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-6.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-6.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-7.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
Yields about 6 servings

Salad
2-3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup pecan halves
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (omit for paleo)
10 ounces chopped kale, hard stems removed
1 cup pomegranate arils (requires about 1 pomegranate)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the squash to a sheet pan and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. (Don’t worry too much about measuring here. Just eyeball it.) Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the squash is tender and slightly browned. 

Meanwhile, make the candied pecans. Add the pecan halves and the sugar to a small pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the pecans. Keep a close eye on it so the sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle on about half of the Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette and toss well. Let the kale sit for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the leaves to soften. Toss in the roasted squash, candied pecans, and pomegranate arils. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste and serve with the remaining dressing. 

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, very finely minced

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until needed. Shake well before using. 


Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter

I'll be the first one to admit that a stocked pantry with grab-and-go foods is essential. Whether you have to head out the door early for work, or you've got toddlers pulling on your legs asking for a "nack! nack!" (translation: snack), chowing down on a granola bar or muffin is sometimes the best you can do at the moment.

But I find when the noise settles and there are a few moments of calm, I need to stop and eat - and I mean actually stop. It's not always just for physical nourishment; sometimes, it's for my mind and soul. I need to sit down without staring at a screen and without a pen, scribbling down my grocery list. I need to enjoy the food in front of me and embrace the opportunity to slow down. Some days, this means warming up leftovers for lunch and attempting to eat without interruption. Other days, it's simply drinking a fresh cup of coffee while it's still hot, or indulging a really good chocolate bar at the end of the day. Most recently, it's meant an afternoon cup of tea with some sort of baked good - a scone, muffin, or in this case, biscuits. 

While the cold weather lingers (currently accompanied by clouds and rain), I've been craving comfort food, i.e. anything buttery and straight out of the oven. But I also find myself looking forward to the bright, fresh flavors of spring. This recipe - warm, lightly sweetened biscuits dotted with flecks of lemon zest and rosemary - is the best of both worlds. My favorite way to enjoy them is with copious amounts of lemon-honey butter (or sometimes an big spoonful of raspberry jam) and a steaming cup of herbal tea.

Make a batch and sneak away for a few minutes to truly savor. Savor the flavors of rosemary and lemon, the textures of creamy, sweet honey butter and crumbly, flaky biscuits. Most of all, let yourself savor a moment of stillness...because we all know it won't last forever. 

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter.jpg
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Yields 10-12 biscuits

Biscuits
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
1 cup buttermilk, plus a little extra for the top of the biscuits

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking mat), and set aside.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, soda, rosemary, and lemon zest to a food processor. Pulse until combined.

Add the diced butter to the food processor, and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse meal. There should still be pea-sized bits of butter throughout the flour mixture.

Add the buttermilk and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. You don’t want to overmix, otherwise, the biscuits will be dense. It’s OK to still see small bits of butter in the dough.

Spread a bit of flour on your work surface. Turn the dough out on the floured surface, and pat it into a rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. Fold the dough over and pat it down gently again. Fold it over one more time, and pat it down until it’s ¾ inch thick again. (Be careful not to overwork the dough beyond this.)

Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits. Reroll the dough scraps as needed and continue to cut out more biscuits until all the dough is used.

Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space in between each one. Brush the tops with buttermilk or milk (this helps them brown).

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops and edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven, and let them cool slightly. Serve warm with lemon-honey butter. (They also taste great with raspberry jam!)

Lemon-Honey Butter
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix together all the ingredients until smooth. (I prefer to do this with a stand mixer or handheld mixer.) Transfer to a small bowl or dish, or spoon the butter onto plastic wrap, roll into a log shape, and wrap it up tightly. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use. 


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

A friend dropped his phone in the crevices of our couch a few weeks ago. He started reaching between the cushions and my internal alarms sounded. Fear and panic washed over me like a tidal wave, and I immediately issued a warning: “Be careful! I have no idea what you’ll find down there!”

Would he reach for his phone only to discover stale popcorn and animal cracker crumbs? Or worse yet, would he unearth a scary, sticky, mysterious substance whose only home should be a laboratory? Would he ever sit on that sofa again or return to our home without a hazmat suit? We laughed at the thought of what he might find, and despite my fear of the creatures beneath the cushions, I found the situation amusing rather than stressful. That would not have been the case a couple years ago.

Continue reading and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!

Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad
Grilled Corn + Bell Pepper Salad

Full recipe and instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!