Seasonal Chef: Capturing Summer in the Rainier Cherry

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I recently saw a post on Facebook from a friend bemoaning the heat of summer. Did they actually forget the horribly long and cold winter we just suffered through in the Northeast? I for one welcome the bright hot sun of summer. Not only does it just make me feel great and want to wake up in the morning, but it is bringing us loads of great fruit and vegetables to the markets right now. Fruits, berries and cherries are lining up on the tables this month calling to us. The strawberries seem to almost be done, leaving cherries for their moment of glory. Now is the time to get them. Typically cherries are found in either pies, jams or fruit salads. So I decided to see what would happen if I made them into a savory dish.

As with other stone fruits you want to look for an unblemished skin that is not overly soft or broken. The stems should look pretty fresh too. You can store them in the ‘fridge for several days in your crisper bin. (If they last that long!) Cherries have no cholesterol or fat and are high in potassium, vitamins A and C.

cherry pitter

Cherries can be sour or sweet and within those broad categories you find several different varieties. I decided to use the rainier cherry, a hybrid of two varieties that hails from the Northwest. The season for Rainier’s is upon us: typically mid-June to mid-July.

rainier cherry

Pitting them can be an arduous task but with my handy cherry pitter I was done in a matter of minutes.

saute rainier cherries for salsa

After a quick saute to soften the red onion and jalapeno I added my quartered cherries and softened them up too.

Rainier Cherry Salsa, Maria Reina

Once off the heat I let it cool a little then added lime zest, juice and cilantro. Click this link to see my recipe for: Rainier Cherry Salsa.

Oh She Glows falafel

From the start I had this creation in mind to top my falafel burgers. My go-to recipe for falafel comes from one of my favorite food web site’s called Oh She Glows. She creates vegan recipes that are just stunning. I’ve liked just about everything from her site. You do need to have a few basic things in stock, like flax, raw cashews and nutritional yeast for some of her recipes, easily found at Whole Foods, but most everything else is mainstream. (I’ve found that non-vegans tend to not even want to try things because they think they will need special ingredients.)

falafel cherry salsa

Her Falafel with a Twist recipe is just delicious and made in less than 15 minutes, using a food processor to help you along the way. I topped the falafel with a little yogurt spread I made mixing a cup of Greek yogurt with the juice of a lime, some minced cilantro, salt and pepper. Altogether it was absolutely delicious with my cherry salsa!

If you are out and about this weekend stop by the Down to Earth Larchmont Farmers Market. I will be demoing from 10:00-Noon. I’m going to have a sneak peak of something I found recently: baby fennel. I’ll have that recipe next week. Until then … Buon Appetito!

Last year: Spicy Bite of Radish
Two years ago: Peaches

Rainier Cherry Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Rainier Cherry Salsa

These tiny stone fruits burst with sweet and tart flavors in the summertime. Rainier cherries pair perfectly with a little heat from jalapeño to make a different salsa perfect to top a burger or with cheese and crackers.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of avocado, canola or grapeseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, ¼” dice
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, about ½ medium, seeds removed ¼” dice
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups pitted rainier cherries, about 1 lb, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons demerara (raw) sugar
  • Zest and juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, add the oil, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and let it come to a sizzle. You just want to soften it all up.
  2. Add in the cherries and give it a little toss to mix it all together. Sprinkle over the sugar and let it cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. You want the cherries to soften up, but not brown.
  3. Remove from heat and add the lime zest, juice and cilantro. Toss to combine and let it cool completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the ‘fridge.

Notes

It's best to use a very light a flavorless oil for this dish. I used avocado oil, easily found at Costco and Whole Food.

http://food.lohudblogs.com/2014/07/23/seasonal-chef-rainier-cherry/

 

Rainier Cherry Salsa
Makes about 1½ cups

These tiny stone fruits burst with sweet and tart flavors in the summertime. Rainier cherries pair perfectly with a little heat from jalapeño to make a different salsa perfect to top a burger or with cheese and crackers.

2 tablespoons of avocado, canola or grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons red onion, ¼” dice
1 tablespoon jalapeno, about ½ medium, seeds removed ¼” dice
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 cups pitted rainier cherries, about 1 lb
2 teaspoons demerara (raw) sugar
Zest and juice of ½ lime
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, add the oil, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and let it come to a sizzle. You want to soften it all up.
2. Add in the cherries and give it a little toss to mix it all together. Sprinkle over the sugar and let it cook for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. You want the cherries to soften up, but not brown.
3. Remove from heat and add the lime zest, juice and cilantro. Toss to combine and let it cool completely.
4. Store in an airtight container in the ‘fridge.

Cook’s note: It’s best to use a very light a flavorless oil for this dish. I used avocado oil, easily found at Costco and Whole Food.

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She’s an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer’s markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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