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. 

Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl

Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl | Sarah J. Hauser

I keep seeing smoothie bowl recipes pop up on food blogs and all over social media, and for a while, I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. But to be honest, after enjoying a few versions of smoothie bowls over the last couple weeks, I've jumped on the bowl bandwagon.

First, they're photogenic. Let's just be honest and admit that's why many of us like posting photos of them on Instagram. Second, it's all about the toppings. I don't know why, but it's just so fun to go crazy with toppings. Whether it's over ice cream, a blended soup, a plate of tortilla chips or a smoothie bowl, these "blank canvas foods" provide a tasty backdrop for whatever we can dream up to throw on them. 

Third - and most important - smoothie bowls require we sit down. I love regular smoothies, but I usually eat them on the run. With a smoothie bowl, you've gotta pull up a chair, grab a spoon and actually sit down and enjoy. It's a breakfast you can whip up quickly, but is meant to be savored. 

Are you a fan of the bowl? What are your go-to toppings? 

Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl | Sarah J. Hauser
Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl | Sarah J. Hauser
Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl | Sarah J. Hauser
Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl | Sarah J. Hauser

Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl
Yields about 16 ounces (not including toppings)

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 heaping cup frozen, pitted cherries
3 Medjool dates, pitted
2 Tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
Toppings (such as almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped dates, chia seeds)

Add the yogurt, cherries, dates, almond butter and vanilla to a blender. Add a splash of milk and blend until smooth. Add additional milk until you reach the desired consistency.

Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings such as almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped dates or chia seeds. Grab a spoon, dig in and enjoy!

Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola

Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola

“You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” —Tina Fey

I think back to a year ago when my husband and I were trying to stay afloat during the newborn stage. I was recovering from my unwanted, although somewhat expected and very fortunate C-section. We were up multiple times a night, me attempting to nurse and then often with tears of defeat, handing my son over to my husband for a bottle while I tried to feed baby number two. After too little sleep, the sun would rise, I’d schlep my achy body downstairs and the daytime routine would commence.

Read more and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs.

Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola
Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola
Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola
Big Cluster Cocoa Cherry Granola

Granola makes a great new mama gift! Head over to the Coffee + Crumbs shop to purchase the adorable cards pictured above to include with a batch of homemade granola! 

Roasted Cherry + Goat Cheese Toast

I think it'll be a while before I make this recipe again - not because I didn't like it, but because I made it and ate the entire batch. I started with two pounds of cherries. TWO POUNDS! Gone. Just like that - and that doesn't even take into account the bread and cheese I ate. Oy. 

I blame the first pound on having to test the actual recipe. I made a few adjustments and of course needed to taste along the way. But that second pound? I had finished taking these photos and, well, it was lunchtime. What better meal than the Roasted Cherry + Goat Cheese Toast I had just photographed? 

And so, I confess my gluttonous behavior. There's something about warm fruit, creamy goat cheese and fresh herbs that I can't get enough of. Consider yourself warned. It is all too easy to consume excessive amounts of this dish.

Maybe next time, I'll have to invite friends and family over so I can share...

...then again, maybe sharing is overrated.

Roasted Cherry + Goat Cheese Toast

Cherries, pitted and stems removed
Olive oil
Goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh sage leaves
Baguette slices, toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Lay the pitted cherries out on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Roast for 20-25 minutes. Spread the warm roasted cherries on toasted baguette slices and top with goat cheese and sage leaves. If desired, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Quick Tip: I roasted these with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, but there are plenty of other variations you can try. Roast the cherries with red wine or balsamic vinegar. Top them with other kinds of herbs; instead of sage, try thyme or rosemary. For a bit more sweetness, drizzle the assembled toasts with honey instead of olive oil.