Fresh Cherries for Salads and Cocktails

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Summer produce is one of my favorite seasonal yields, especially the melons and the stone fruits. So it’s no surprise that summer is the time of year my market bags grow heavy with variety and bright with color.

Luckily, my little guy and I are huge fruit consumers, my son even more so than I am. I’m actually pretty sure that left to his own devices he would be a fruitarian. That might be fine with me if I weren’t a baker. I know, go ahead, sigh out loud that I don’t fully rejoice that the action hero underwear-ing mini-man prefers fruit over one of my cupcakes. I guess I did it right by getting him started early with the idea of pairing fruit against savory, and viewing it as a meal choice rather than a snack.

Staying in season with the heat, I try to keep the meals to a low fuss level of preparation and cooking. This often means a lot of salads for meals, and while I do kick many of them up with grains and meat, this one is straight summer -- no meat, and as raw as my family will allow me. This is also one of my favorite salads, as it showcases the sweet freshness of the melons and cherries against the backdrop of a peppery arugula bite. The feta gives the ensemble an added dimension, and the champagne vinaigrette is the final layer to a salad with enough flavor notes to make it a meal.

Since I bought so many cherries, I decided to pair the shaved melon & cherry arugula salad with a sweet and herbal cherry and cilantro mojito.

cherry cilantro mojito

Shaved Melon Cherry Arugula Salad

Ingredients

  • 12 cherries, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches arugula, washed well and dried
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions

To prepare the cantaloupe and honeydew halve, seed and peel melons. Use a vegetable peeler and drag it down the peeled sides of each melon for shaved pieces. To prepare the cherries, pit and halve cherries.

Add oil, champagne vinegar, and Dijon mustard and lime juice into a bowl and whisk to combine; season with salt and pepper to preference. Add arugula, and toss to coat with dressing. Divide arugula onto four plates and top with shaved melons, cherries and feta. Serve immediately.

Cherry and Cilantro Mojito

Makes 4 cocktails

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh lime juice, about 6 limes
  • 10 cherries, pitted
  • 4 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • Seltzer
  • 6 ounces white rum

Instructions

In a small pitcher, combine lime juice, cherries, and 4 sprigs of cilantro; muddle and strain. Add rum and stir to combine. Place crushed ice in 4 tall cocktail glasses, Pour cocktail into the two glasses; top off with seltzer. Garnish cocktail with cilantro sprigs and lime slices.

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