marinated cherry salad
Ever since I got my new cherry pitter I've been living in sweet cherry heaven. By happenstance I watched an episode of Anna Olson's "Fresh" on the Food Network a few weeks ago, and noted this recipe for an intriguing salad with marinated cherries Tender Greens with Marinated Cherries in Almond Vinegarette. Now that I finally had a cherry pitter in my apron holster, I was ready to make this sweet, tart, summer fresh salad.
On a side note, I highly suggest you do wear an apron when pitting cherries as the red juice tends to squirt indiscriminately. If by some chance you do get nailed, I suggest falling back on my grandmother's method of treating berry stains. You start by taking the stained article of clothing, draping it over a bowl and slowly pouring boiling hot water "through" the stain. The spot then turns a darker colour, but if you continue to pour, it magically disappears. Of course you need to use your own judgment regarding hot water treatment on fabrics but from t-shirts to cotton blouses, I have found it works very well. Now back to salad making.
Of course the star of this salad is the cherries. The magical combination of flavours in the marinade, really brings the "cherriness" to a whole other level. When you bite into the scarlet spheres, there is a heightened flavour burst (I almost hate to use that term as it somehow sounds like a chewing gum ad but it does best describe the sensation). All the sweet and tart notes, perfectly dance in your mouth. On top of all that is the addition of the crunchy almonds and crispiness of the butter lettuce, sealing this recipe's destiny to be housed in my "permanent collection".
First move: to pit about 2 cups of cherries and get them marinating while you put together the rest of the salad.
marinated cherry mixture ingredients
- 2 cups pitted sweet cherries
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1-1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- pinch ground cinnamon
Gently toss together the cherries, onion, vinegar, honey, mint and cinnamon. I was very lucky and had recently purchased cherry balsamic vinegar by LuLu, but red wine, raspberry or balsamic vinegar would also work well. The honey I used was locally produced Babe's Cranberry Honey but any good honey from your area would be delicious. (I think it's great to support our local beekeepers and bees.)
Be careful to just use a scant pinch of cinnamon as directed as it is just for a small enhancement, and should not even be detectable over the other flavours.
Let this cheery-cherry combination sit while preparing the rest of the salad, or you could mix this up a few hours before assembling.
Toast about a 1/2 cup of flaked or slivered almonds either in a toaster oven or in the oven. I don't always follow my own advice but never take your eyes off any nuts you are toasting, as they go from golden to burnt quicker than almost anything you think you can do faster. It's an on-going joke in my household that I always need to have insurance amounts of nuts on hand in case I carbonize the first batch. It's not so funny to me as nuts are expensive!
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or juices from marinated cherries)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons almond oil (note: I used olive oil plus 2 drops of almond extract)
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- salt and pepper
Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients until smooth and emulsified. I like to just toss it all in a little 1/2 pint jar and shake. I did not have the almond oil called for on hand so I used olive oil and put in 2 little drops of almond extract. It worked out just fine for an easy alternative.
Wash, dry and tear a head of butter lettuce (or other crispy greens) into bite size pieces.
Serve by arranging lettuce in a large, open bowl.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the greens and top with cherry mixture and toasted almonds.
As a little something extra, the second time I made this salad I crumbled a little blue cheese over the top. With a baguette, it made a nice light summertime dinner.