I can't believe it is almost May. May! April flew by us in a whirlwind and I'm already moving on to thinking and planning for this summer. Plans are being made for camps, trips, landscaping, and a new deck for the new house. After moving into our house last year, we took a break from all thoughts of house design, concentrating on the inside. Well, it's finally time we take it outdoors.
I truly treasure my outdoor space. One of the things I miss most about our old house is our yard. It took a few years, but I had finally grown a beautiful and peace-filled yard with giant hydrangeas, rose bushes, and flowering trees. My favorite space was my vegetable and herb garden. Logan and I worked together to loosen the soil after the cold winter, adding fresh nutrients, and then sowing our seeds. We had quite the green thumbs. The rewards were plentiful. Fresh herbs were at our disposal. A handful of chives, basil, mint, thyme, or sage could be cut at will for whatever I was cooking. We had a bounty of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and even melons. This was the time of year I cleaned out the beds and began anew, looking forward to what the season would bring me.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this house. And, for that reason, the feeling of spinning my wheels is maddening. I know how fantastic our plans will be in the end but I feel frustrated at the slow pace of making it happen. I am not known as a patient person once I have an idea in my head. For now, we are building our deck and patio. For now, we are meeting with landscape designers. For now, we have to make do with grass that is growing lush in some places and barely covering the dirt in others. We have trees and brush that need to be cleared out, and new trees and plantings to go in the ground. The vision is there but the execution and finished product is a few years down the road. Patience, Christy, patience.
This week I waxed nostalgic for our little garden simply because of my love for the fresh herbs. I get so excited for this time of year because of the endless salad possibilities that come about through the use of fresh herbs and the wider variety of vegetables in the markets. One of my new favorite types of salads is the crunchy kind. I have no idea why I didn't care for the crunchy salads in my younger days, preferring lots of greens and leafy stuff. Maybe the exposure to some tasty crunch in my salads and the more filling portions that often go along with these types of salads changed my mind. Salads are no longer just about romaine, tomato, cucumber, and carrots. Now, a salad might mix in beans, peppers, corn, broccoli, or celery. It might use as its base grains such as quinoa, farro, couscous, or barley. Even simple oil and vinegar dressings can be more interesting with fresh herbs added to them. The possibilities are endless.
This week I found myself with a bunch of celery and a husband who asked for them to ALWAYS be in the fridge so that he isn't tempted to snack on chips. Well, the celery was still there, untouched, and the aforementioned husband was headed out of town for a few days at the end of the week. Well, why not make a salad with celery. A celery salad! And, because I love herbs so much, I also had gone a bit overboard with the amount I had in my refrigerator, also on their way to going bad. Waste not, want not.
Using chopped celery, a red pepper, and onion I was on my way to an idea for a refreshing and crunchy salad. Add in one can of chickpeas, cooked quinoa, and a vinaigrette full of fresh herbs and we suddenly have gone from a salad to a satisfying meal. The result was all that I anticipated. The colors were pretty, the meal satisfying, and the crunchy freshness met all of my expectations. The dried cranberries added a nice tangy sweetness that complemented the taste of the celery and onion. And, the walnuts simply added an even crunchier bite. In my opinion, there is just something special about combining the flavors of celery, walnuts, and cranberries. I'm not sure why but it works but it never fails.
I look forward to putting this salad together again throughout the summer months...possibly from the view of our new deck!
Crunchy Celery, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad
A refreshing side salad that combines the crunchiness of celery and the meatiness of the chickpeas with a delicious assortment of freshly chopped herbs.
- 1 cup, cooked quinoa
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tablespoon, chopped fresh dill
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons, chopped fresh chives
- 1 Tablespoon, chopped fresh mint
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 cup, chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool. (Note: you can make more quinoa than you need for this recipe and freeze the leftover quinoa to use later).
Chop the celery, pepper, and onion. Add the chopped veggies to a medium bowl. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add to the bowl of vegetables.
Chop the herbs. Add them to the bowl of vegetables. Sprinkle the sumac, salt, and pepper over the ingredients in the bowl. Add 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the bowl..
Add the olive oil and vinegar. Stir the mixture until it is well-mixed and the oil and vinegar have coated all of the ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Yield: 6 servings