Last weekend, a terrible thought hit me. “Summer is practically over,” I thought. “It might as well be September.”
But that’s crazy. Summer is far from over. Summer is merely at its peak. Summer tastes sweet, juicy and goes well with cream soda. You know how I know this? Because summer is currently on sale in one of its purest forms: cherries.
Prompted by what turned out to be a fantastic idea by Whole Foods, we threw a cherry party this week. That’s right. Cherry all the things.
Did you know that Michigan is the cherry capital of the world? In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Traverse City area alone produces up to 360,000,000 pounds of cherries per year.
I’ve never actually cooked with fresh cherries before. I’ve used dried ones in cookies and oatmeal but never used fresh. Part of my hesitation was that I generally preferred strawberries, having not tasted how good cherries could really be before this week. Part of my hesitation was due to this idea that cherries are hard to use. I mean, pits? Stems? Let’s just call the whole thing off. But no. Turns out, fresh cherries are actually really easy to use, especially if you make a small investment in the right hardware.
So I thought to myself…can I make an entire meal with cherries in every dish? Yes. Yes I can. Challenge accepted.
With recipes and bonus links below!
- cherry salsa (fresh sweet cherries, red onion, garlic, serrano peppers, lime juice and zest)
- cherry gazpacho (sweet cherries, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, oil, vinegar and basil)
Main course and side:
- sirloin-cherry burgers with melted brie (ground sirloin, chopped fresh cherries)
- cherry-cranberry coleslaw (coleslaw mix, dried cherries, dried cranberries, cherry syrup, vinegar and mayo)
- chocolate fondue with berries (cherries, raspberries and strawberries, marshmallows and graham crackers; fondue is semisweet chocolate, cream and amaretto liqueur)
- Cherry cream soda (cream soda with cherry syrup and Black Cherry Cream soda from Sprechers)
- Cherry mojito slushies (cherry syrup, lime juice and zest, fresh cherries, rum and mint)
- Cherry rum and cokes (cherry syrup, cane sugar Coca-Cola and dark rum)
Yes. It was a thing. A red, sweet, full-belly kind of thing. Any my challenge to you now is…what kind of cherry dishes are you going to make? If you haven’t tried experimenting with fresh cherries before, trust me–now is the time.
I’d also like to thank Whole Foods for the inspiration for this party, as well as providing me with a gift card to procure the ingredients.
A smooth fresh cold soup of summer vegetables, fruits and bread. Adapted from Food & Wine
- 2 slices sourdough, cubed
- 2 baby cucumbers, seedless, roughly cut
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and halved
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1.5oz red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsp
- 1 tbsp herbes de provence
- salt and pepper to taste
- basil for garnish
- 1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil.
- 2. Toss sourdough with garlic and herbes de provence. Fry in oil until browned and toasted.
- 3. Put bread and garlic mixture into a bowl, making sure to scrape out all the oil and herb-y goodness. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, cherries, red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Cover and let sit for 2 hours.
- 4. In batches, puree the gazpacho until mostly smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls, garnish with basil leaves, and serve.
*This can be made up to a day in advance; just be sure to tightly cover with plastic wrap to avoid discoloration.
- 1.5lb sweet cherries, pitted
- 1/4 c.red onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- serrano, diced (up to you--1/2 a pepper for mild, up to 2 for hotter)
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1. Put cherries in a food processor and pulse until well-chopped but NOT puréed. Transfer cherries to a bowl.
- 2. Add in red onion, garlic, serrano, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together thoroughly.
- 3. Enjoy!
[heading style=”2″]But Wait! There’s More![/heading]
How to make cherry syrup, from Karen’s Kitchen
How to dry cherries at home, from the Kitchn