Take Advantage of Cherry Season

Hello June! I think by now, most of us are counting the days until summer. I know I am! When I think of early summer, I think of fresh produce, specifically, CHERRIES. Fresh cherries have a small window of availability, and they are available now! 

One of my favorite summer desserts is an old-fashioned fruit crisp. Nearly any fruit can be used for a crisp, and the juicer it is, the better. In this recipe, I’m using a combination of fresh cherries and mixed berries. I used dark sweet cherries, but you could use Rainier cherries or a combination. 

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, you could simply cut the cherries in half and remove the seed. Or, place a metal straw over the top of the cherry where the stem was and press down until the seed comes out. 

This crisp comes together in minutes and tastes so good, especially when served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Planning ahead? Assemble the crisp in the morning, put it in the refrigerator, and then bake just before serving. This is exactly what I will be doing for our triplets’ high school graduation! My family plans to get together after the ceremony, so this dessert will be the perfect ending to a very special day. 

Fresh Cherry Berry Crisp 

Makes 8 servings 

FILLING 

3 cups (about 1 pound) fresh sweet cherries such as Bing, pitted 

5 cups mixed fresh berries* (such as hulled and halved strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries) 

Finely grated zest from one lemon 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

½ cup granulated sugar 

¼ cup flour of choice (all-purpose, almond, oat, etc.) or cornstarch 

TOPPING 

¾ cup old-fashioned uncooked oats 

½ cup flour of choice (all-purpose, almond, oat, etc.) 

¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar 

¼ cup chopped dry roasted almonds 

½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt 

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces 

Vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt or whipped cream, for serving (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

FOR FILLING: 

Combine cherries, berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar and flour in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Spoon mixture into 2-quart shallow baking dish or pan. 

FOR TOPPING: 

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl; cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the filling. 

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is browned and crisp. Cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with a scoop of ice cream, frozen yogurt or whipped cream. Cover leftovers and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

*If your berries are extra sweet, you can reduce the sugar in the filling by 1 to 2 tablespoons. 

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If you are looking for a savory option using fresh cherries, look no further! Quinoa is my go-to pseudo-grain because my daughter and I eat gluten-free (not by choice!), and the rest of the family loves it. Yes, quinoa is technically a seed, but it’s prepared like a grain and works so well in salads, is perfect for picnics and potlucks, and can easily be made in advance! Just keep the dressing and pistachios separate, and then when ready, toss everything together. 

I highly recommend using pistachios, but if you aren’t a fan, toasted walnuts also work great! To toast, heat skillet over medium heat; add walnuts and toast, tossing frequently, for a few minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and then chop. 

Fresh Cherry & Mint Quinoa Salad 

Makes about 6 cups 

3 cups cooked organic quinoa, couscous, farro or barley, chilled 

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved or quartered 

¼ cup chopped shallot 

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped 

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil 

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon 

Juice from 2 lemons (about ¼ cup) 

1 to 2 tablespoons honey (use 1 tablespoon if your cherries are sweet) 

½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

A couple of handfuls of baby arugula 

⅓ cup pistachios, chopped

Combine quinoa, cherries, shallot and mint in a medium salad bowl. Whisk together oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper until emulsified; drizzle over quinoa mixture. Add arugula and toss gently to combine. Right before serving, stir in pistachios. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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