I read in the news today that the fresh cherry crop will be the largest in history in Australia. The peak cherry season is around Christmas and since I moved to Australia, cherries remind me of Christmas. I still have trouble thinking about Santa wearing shorts or kids leaving beer for him before going to bed on Christmas Eve. “Milk and cookies for Santa,” I say and everyone here raises an eyebrow and says, “Who eats milk and cookies on Christmas Eve? It’s beer!”
When I was trying to come up with recipes that call for fresh, sweet cherries I realized I already have that recipe in my head. My brother visited Australia years ago and he made the best salad one night from fresh spinach leaves, fresh cherries sliced in half, roughly chopped walnuts and bites of blue cheese and it was lightly kissed by a black cherry vinaigrette dressing. I wasn’t too sure when he talked about it but when I took the first bite, I was hooked.
My sister was here at the same time and we took turns cooking every night. It was the best fun because we all had the same food growing up and how our palates have changed over the years was interesting to see. Jim used to do catering on the weekends in San Francisco when he wasn’t the captain of a rescue boat on the bay. Carole has been a violin teacher and music camp organizer for as long as I can remember. She loves to entertain and has some amazing recipes. We’re a family of foodies and I wish they’d come back.
Thanksgiving is the time of year that I get most homesick. I think of my family sitting around a table that couldn’t fit one more ounce of food. The aromas of a roasting turkey or pies straight from the oven are wonderful but it’s the laughter I miss – those old jokes that nobody but us would think are funny.
This is a really simple salad and it’s perfect alongside lamb chops fresh off the bbq. I love summer salads and this is a real favorite of mine.
- ¼ small red onion, sliced thinly and soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained.
- 8 cups clean spinach leaves
- ½ kg (1 lb) fresh (or frozen-thawed) dark cherries, pitted and sliced in half
- ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese (you can substitute whatever cheese you really like)
- ¾ cup roughly chopped roasted walnuts
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon black cherry vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F
- Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and place in oven for 6 minutes. Stir around and roast for another 3-4 minutes ensuring they don't overcook. Let cool.
- Combine the spinach, onion and cherries n a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Taste and add salt and pepper until it's to your liking.
- Add dressing to salad and toss to coat, gently add the cheese and walnuts and serve
This look beautiful Maureen!
Chris Scheuer says
I could eat the whole big bowl myself! It looks perfectly amazing! I’m a little jealous that you have cherries at Christmas time. They’re so festive but sadkt only available here in the summer.
i wish we could get some of those delicious cherries flown to Canada.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I know you have to miss your family, especially during the holidays. This sounds like a wonderful salad and I’ll certainly save it for next summer when cherries are in the market. It is hard to think about Santa in shorts today as the temps are in the teens and we have 9 inches of snow on the ground.
Melissa @ My Recent Favorite books says
This salad sounds delicious! I love the combination of flavors.
I can understand missing your family.. =)
Drooling all over my keyboard………… 🙂
I love the combination of sweet and savoury flavours in this salad. It looks beautiful as well.
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
Mmmm – Maureen – so pretty and delicious.
Sandra Shaffer says
I love a delicious fresh salad any time of year, especially with cherries! Gosh, the season has come and gone for us here in California, but that won’t stop me from trying your salad! Got to find some black cherry vinegar. That sounds amazing!
Totally relate to missing family in holiday times – although Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Brazil and I did not grow up with it. It became, however, my favorite holiday in the US and I was sad to miss it this year. But it was, as you know… for a great cause
it is too bad that moving to a new country comes with a fee – sadness and nostalgia that hits in some expected, and some unexpected times
but we hang in there, don’t we? 😉
We do 🙂
Hotly Spiced says
I’m sorry you didn’t have your family at your table this Thanksgiving. It would be very difficult growing up with a holiday as special as thanksgiving only to move somewhere else where it doesn’t exist. I’m glad the cherry season is in abundance because I want to make some cherry chutney. I’ve been watching the prices come down but cherries still aren’t cheap enough for me to make chutney. I do love the look of this salad and I have a very similar one on my blog but it also has pear in it so I make it in Autumn (mostly). I’ve never tried black cherry vinegar – will look out for it xx
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Dear Maureen, I can imagine how homesick you must feel at Thanksgiving time… I feel a little the same way about Christmas now that my folks and my two older brothers and my nephew are no longer here. Still we must go on. I love this salad… I haven’t used fresh cherries in a salad, but I think this should change. Happy cooking.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
You’re so right! Cherries and blue cheese are a fantastic pairing Maureen! And a bumper crop of one of my favourite fruit? Yes please! 😀
Have made the spinach, nut and cheese salad but never thought of cherries . . . can taste the difference they will make to a superb side as I type. What a marriage with a grill!! Must look at the cherry prices next shop 🙂 !!
I have never tried cherries in a salad before, but I am loving the idea!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
This makes me miss cherry season, I’d absolutely devour this salad!
Hi Maureen, this would be my last meal salad, love the dressing!
Looks great Maureen, love the fresh cherries! When the cherry season starts here I eat about a pound day, I love cherries!
Tania @My Kitchen Stories says
I can’t wait to buy a whole box of cherries. I would love to eeat this salad Maureen. it is such fun to speand time cooking and doing things with your family. so sorry you couldn’t be with yours at Thanksgiving
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Lovely salad! When we lived in Florida, the strawberry season started around Christmas, so we always bought strawberries for Christmas Eve. I’d be doing cherries if I lived in Australia! Good salad — thanks.
Helene D'Souza says
Oh… nonetheless I hope you had a good time for thanksgiving with john and charlie. I can imagine our flavors choices do alter and change during the course of our lifes. I have noticed it already in my family, especially since I have been in India. Your salad sounds exciting Maureen and it’s healthy too which is a plus point.
Abbe @ This is How I Cook says
I love cherries in salad and this one says thank goodness it’s cherry season. I look forward to it every year. When fresh aren’t available I use dried. Great salad, Maureen.
nancy @ Plus Ate Six says
It’s horrible missing family on the big occasions isn’t it? At least you have happy memories of all been together – when my lot get together it’s totally stressful 🙂 I can so imagine a plateful of this salad would cheer up the soul though x
InTolerant Chef says
Fresh cherries are a delight indeed Maureen! What a yummy salad, and how handy that I just happen to have some cherry vinegar in the pantry 🙂 yummo!
You have my perfect salad combination. I would love this now and I haven’t even had breakfast!!
Gourmet Getaways says
Whoa cherries and greens and blue (cheese)! What a combination! I must admit, I’ve never tried this before. Plus, I know I’m gonna love this, so 5 stars for you Maureen!!! 🙂
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
Your cherry salad looks gorgeous! I will cook it in summer because is this time when cherrys are on the tree 😉
Love sweet cherries in a salad! Of course, sweet cherries are one of my fave fruits and I’ll eat them pretty much any ol’ way. LOL
This looks exactly like a salad I shell out $6 for at Whole Foods for a small portion. I think this homemade version will be far tastier!
Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says
Aw shucks Maureen, hate hearing that you are homesick. I can’t relate because I am such a coward that I never did a proper long term move overseas because I knew I couldn’t be away from family permanently (and also why I don’t date boys with accents :)), I just did medium term stints. On a cheerier note though, I love that you are always full of useful information – like the biggest cherry crop in years? WHOOPEEE!! (Whoopie Pie….gotta make that whoopee pie!) I am obsessed with cherries. I buy boxes of them every year then stress about how I’m going to get through them!
I always know how I’m going to get through them. Cherry by cherry. 🙂
Kylie @ Happy Today Magazine says
Delicious and healthy Mauz…lovely x
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
Cherries really do mean Xmas to me! Maureen, this looks and sounds gorgeous – perfect for the Xmas table.
David Crichton says
It might be a while before I make another salad. This is right up my street though, blue cheese, nuts and leaves. Perfect.
This would be my favorite salad – it has everything I love! As I read your post about your sister cooking with you, I felt homesick from my family…and then I read how you felt homesick over our Thanksgiving. It’s so interesting how we look and feel about family and being together. While I had Thanksgiving here with my children, my sister and extended family are far away and I really miss that we are not all together. I think that no matter what the day is, holiday or not, family is so very important and missed so much when they are not with us.
(and as a side note, sometimes not being involved closely in all the family drama is a good thing!!)
I so love this salad, it has all my favorite ingredients!
As I was reading your post about cooking with your sister, I found myself feeling homesick. And then, I read how you were missing Thanksgiving and feeling homesick! I had Thanksgiving but it was with my children and friends – not my sister or extended family that live far away. So I think no matter the day, or holiday, being away from family does feel so sad at times. (and as a side note, sometimes being far away from family drama is a nice thing!)
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Maureen, this looks wonderful! Of course, here in the US I’ll have to wait several months for the cherries. I’ll make a note of this recipe for then. I know we’ll enjoy it!
What a spectacular salad! I cannot wait till cherry season arrives and I will give this a try. We had my MIL here for the holidays…usually it’s just the 5 of us. I miss the days where we’d all get together…and I know I’d feel a little blue, too, if my family was across the globe. Hope you got some phone time with your loved ones. xo
Fran @ G'day Souffle' says
‘Black cherry vinegar’? I suppose you could make that yourself by infusing some black cherries into vinegar? Great combination of cherries and blue cheese!
Great combination of flavors Maureen! This salad has everything in just a few ingredients..
What beautiful flavours and I have never tried black cherry dressing – I bet it is amazing. Such an inspirational and definitely summer salad that presents well and will taste amazing.
I envy you for having fresh cherries:) This salad would be a winner at out table.. as we love them.. I can hardly wait for summer to try it out:)
Sherry from sherryspickings says
This is a divine salad Maureen. I have made similar but not with cherries. And I adore cherries so it is on my must eat list:)
Sara @ Don't Feed After Midnight says
I’ve never tried cherries in a salad, good idea! Definitely going to try this but substitute the blue cheese for another type (maybe feta?) as it’s not really my cup of tea. Lovely festive salad!
Thats a beautiful salad! I love blue cheese with fruits in salads
Choc Chip Uru says
Honestly blue cheese is a little strong for me, but I bet a substitution of Danish feta will still be fabulous in this healthy salad! Love the cherries as well, aren’t they so good right now?
Choc Chip Uru
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
Oh this looks perfect with those juicy cherries, what a lovely way to use them.
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Maureen, this salad sounds freakin delightful. I would never have thought to add cherries to a salad. Maybe that is because cherries never last long in my household, but dang. I want. 🙂 Adding to the Christmas family dinner menu.
Kate @ Babaganosh.org says
That sounds like such a great combination. I love love LOVE cherries. Do they go on sale this time of the year when there is a huge crop? They’re always so expensive here and I could easily eat a pound in one sitting instead of a real meal 🙁
Mary @ Fit and Fed says
Beer for Santa? That is an interesting cultural difference! We used to put out milk and cookies “for Santa” with our boys, and carrots for the reindeer. This salad is right up my alley, I might try it with some frozen cherries that I have (Costco now stocks sweet frozen cherries, yay!). But where did you get the black cherry vinegar, or did you make it yourself?