This time of year has to be my absolute favourite; long days, glorious sunshine, catch ups with friends, an abundance of produce and stonefruit – most notably, cherries! Cherries would have to be one of my absolute favourite fruits and so when I bring home the first batch of cherries for the season it’s pretty clear they won’t last long. Aside from tasting magnificent, cherries are really good for your health as they are packed full of antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamins E and C.
Cherries are popping up at grocers around Adelaide at the moment and the cherry growers have returned with a bang to the Adelaide Showground Farmers market. There are also a range of locations around Adelaide where you can go and pick your own. This website is a great resource and there is a map available at the Cherry growers website which you can download and print. It is a handy guide to all things homegrown and proves to be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
So what to do with your cherry harvest? Eating them straight from the punnet is one option and one that I encourage wholeheartedly, as is pitting them and making a pie, but at this time of year it is nice to have options that don’t include lashings of buttery pastry and sugar. This salad is something I’ve been playing with recently after eating something similar at the Scenic Hotel in Norton Summit (cherry territory). Pairing cherries with salty goats cheese seemed strange enough that it might just work, so when I tried my first mouthful I was in some kind of sweet/savoury showdown heaven. Roasting the cherries softens the fruit and makes them a little oozy, their luscious juices mix with the balsamic dressing and coats everything in flavour. The saltiness of the curd offsets the sweetness of the cherries wonderfully, while the nutty crunch of hazelnuts rounds out the overall texture of this salad. Paired with simple cos and a white balsamic dressing this salad is good enough for the Christmas dinner table.
- 1 cup cherries, pitted and stems removed
- ¼ baguette, cut into small pieces
- 100g of goats chevre
- 1 tbspn of dill, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup hazelnuts
- 4-5 cos lettuce leaves, rinsed and cut into ribbons
- 2-3 tbspns of white balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- Pop cherries in an ovenproof dish.
- Meanwhile, spread a small amount of chevre onto each piece of bread and place on an ovenproof tray with the hazelnuts.
- Put cherries, bread and nuts in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until the bread is golden and the skins start coming off the hazelnuts.
- In a large bowl add the lettuce and dress with the balsamic vinegar.
- Remove cherries, bread and nuts from the oven and set aside to cool for a moment.
- Add the cherries (including the juices) straight to the bowl with the bread and toss well to coat in dressing.
- Rub off the skins of the hazelnuts with your thumb and add to the bowl.
- Toss well and then garnish with dill.