Judging from the long lines at Murray’s Farm stand, it seems as though everyone at the Santa Monica Farmers Market this week had cherry fever. Amelia Saltsman, author of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, has a suggestion for using cherries in a savory application.
She pairs mild chicories with pitted cherries, toasted almonds and a simple lemon and oil dressing for a quick salad that showcases the best of the season. Saltsman suggests investing in a cherry pitter to ease the prep. Once you buy it once, you’ll have it for life. It’s $12 well spent. Find her recipe, and inspiration, below.
Cherry Almond Salad
This recipe was inspired by one that I found in a 1911(!) Los Angeles Times Cookbook. Who knew we were eating clever combos like this back in the day. Cherries aren’t often used in savory dishes, but here they add a sweet-tart snap to an elegant salad. Use several kinds of cherries for flavor, color and texture contrast; a slightly bitter frisée or escarole and wedge of cheese nicely sets off summer’s first stone fruit.
1/2 head escarole or 2 heads frisee
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) mixed cherries, such as Bing, Rainier, Brooks, Garnets, and sour Montmorency cherries if you can find them, pitted and halved
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 Eureka lemon
2 tablespoons grapeseed or almond oil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces mild camembert, goat, or blue cheese
If using escarole, cut the leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. You’ll have 3 to 4 cups. If using frisee, use the tender, light-colored hearts and tear them into bite-size pieces. Toss together the cherries, almonds, and escarole or frisee in a salad bowl. Use a zester to peel the yellow skin of the lemon directly onto the salad. Add the oil, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad among 4 plates. Cut cheese into 4 wedges or slices and place a slice on each salad. Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007)