Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans [and learning to rest in the chaos]

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Happy Monday! I don’t always enjoy Mondays, but I’m excited for a fresh start this week. Last week was a doozy: stomach bugs, loads of laundry, a family diet consisting of bananas, applesauce, and rice, and lots of time shampooing carpets. Thankfully, though, everyone’s healthy again, and my carpets are cleaner than they’ve been since we moved in six years ago.

Even more than starting fresh physically, I’m ready to restart emotionally and mentally. I didn’t exactly handle the chaos of last week very well. Come to think of it, I don’t handle chaos in general very well. And in our house, chaos is like the toys on the floor—always there, even when I clean. And then when I clean, when I deal with the chaos, another layer lies beneath the surface—like the toys under the couch that go unnoticed until I pick up the rest of the room.

I too often find myself looking for calm and ease around the corner. It’ll just get easier when we’re healthy or if I can get organized or if I hustle a littler harder. My house will be clean if I pick up the toys, life will feel less chaotic if I get through this week.

That may be true to a degree. Some seasons roll by more smoothly than others. Nights are certainly calmer when not interrupted by sick kids. But I too often put my trust in the idea that “someday it’ll get easier” or “if I just get this done” or “hustle a little harder.” At various points, those phrases may ring true, but they’re not strong enough to put all my weight behind. They’re like trying to grab a leaf when you’re climbing a tree. The leaves are there for a reason, they have their place and their purpose. But they’ll never hold you up.

Psalm 127:1-2 says:

“Unless the LORD builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

I don’t have to hustle and strive and anxiously toil. Instead, I can rest, physically and in every other way. My soul can be at rest. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The Lord is mainly to be rested in...Faith brings calm with it, and banishes the disturbers who both by day and by night murder peace.”

Friends, take a breath. Soak that in. Even in extraordinary messes or mundane chaos, we can know calm, peace, and rest. We can go to bed with unfinished to-do lists. We can live with purpose rather than spinning around on a hamster wheel. We can do the work God has given us to do and no more. He doesn’t ask us to be sovereign. He’s got that one covered.

This week, I’m trying to take a step back from the anxious toil, from the laying in bed awake thinking about all that went undone, from endlessly longing for the elusive “someday when it gets easier.” Because there’s rest to be had now. I don’t want to miss it.

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Back to normal this week also means I’m back in the kitchen, and lately sheet pan dinners have been my jam.

For this recipe, everything except the balsamic glaze gets cooked on one pan, making for easy cleanup. The glaze takes hardly any effort to prepare and can even be made in advance. It’s a great meal when you want something simple, fresh, healthy, and flavorful.

Any favorite sheet pan dinners in your repertoire? I’m always looking to add more to our rotation, so let me know in the comments below!

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Yields 4 servings

4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-1 ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the cherry tomatoes, green beans, and garlic to the pan.* Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss everything together so the vegetables are evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, in a small saucepan whisk together 1 tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, honey, and mustard. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Set at least half the glaze aside for serving.

Drizzle the final tablespoon of oil onto the salmon fillets, and sprinkle each fillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Lightly brush some of the balsamic glaze onto each piece of salmon.

When the green beans and tomatoes have roasted for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven. Push the vegetables aside to make room for the salmon. Add the salmon to the sheet pan and return the pan to the oven. Bake for about 8-10 more minutes. The salmon should be cooked to medium, the tomatoes should burst, and the green beans should be tender yet slightly crisp.

Transfer the salmon and vegetables to servings dishes or plates. Drizzle on the reserved balsamic glaze, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with fresh parsley. Serve alongside rice or quinoa if desired. Enjoy!

*The sheet pan needs to be large enough for everything to fit in a single layer. If the vegetables get too crowded, divide this recipe onto two pans.

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
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Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

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

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.