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