After a long morning, which consisted of errands, a quick coffee with a sweet friend, a grueling cycling class and an artful navigation of the crowded Farmer’s Market, I was all too eager to jet home to the empty, tree-lined streets of Brooklyn. Although I spend a considerable amount of my week talking, talking and talking, I want nothing more than to cloak myself in quiet. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m an only child or maybe silence is a necessary respite from all the frenzy, but I tend to spend one day of the week completely alone. Whether I’m baking a crumble or reading Heidi Julavitz’s latest novel, this is my recharge time. So when I slipped inside my cool apartment, I settled into a pile of magazines, George C. Scott’s The Changeling, and a bowl of sweet, iced cherries.
After a handful of this sweet fruit, I realized that I wanted something a bit more substantive, a tide-over until dinner. And suddenly this recipe was born. While I tend to pair strawberries and vanilla, I’ve stocked my larder with loads of coconut products (oils, flakes, flour) and wanted to test the proverbial waters by making a sauce that found heat from cinnamon and sweetness from the strawberry coconut mixture. Fresh mint cuts through the sauce, lending an astringent flavor, and the iced cherries, while a bit over-the-top in the sweetness department, provided a marvelous texture play in the salad.
Look at all of the beautiful, beautiful shades of red! Years ago I recall watching an episode of Nigella Bites, and there was Nigella Lawson fawning over a river of chocolate, terracotta sauces and sanguine berries. Nothing gave her more pleasure than being awakened by a bowl of bold color, and today I felt something similar.
And then I dove, unapologetically, in.
For the strawberry coconut sauce
1 cup strawberries, hulled
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
For the dessert quinoa salad
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup red quinoa
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cherries
1/8 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and the almond milk to a boil. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
While your quinoa is cooking away, dice your strawberries into slices and place in a small saucepan. Add the maple syrup, coconut, cinnamon and salt. On high heat, bring the sauce to a boil (you’ll notice that the strawberries start to render their juices, making the sauce all slicked and glossy) and stir for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Many of your strawberry slices will remain whole and that’s perfectly fine — you want a bit of smooth texture from the berries against the thickened sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.
In the remaining moments, assemble the mint, cherries and coconut into a medium-sized bowl.
Fork the quinoa and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Once the quinoa has cooled, toss the salad, and mix in the delicious sauce. Serve room temperature or cold. Enjoy!