Sweet and Sour Cherry and Cuke Salad
This recipe showcases a beautiful frame of time during the summer when all of these ingredients are in season at the same time. With cherry season being very short and sweet, it's the highlight of this salad. I would also describe this dish as almost a "crudo" because it involves thinly slicing the ingredients, an acid and fat.
If you have a mandoline, you can make this salad in 10 minutes flat. If you have a cherry pitter, make that 7. If you do not have either of those, it still won't take long at all.
Let the ingredients chill on a platter in the fridge before serving on those especially hot days.
Photo by Kelsey Anne Rose food styling by me.
Sweet and Sour Cherry and Cuke Salad
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tb sunflower oil
1 tsp gochugaru (or chili powder)
¼ tsp salt
1 cup pitted cherries
1 fennel Bulb - if you have the fronds save them!
½ cantaloupe cut into wedges and rind removed
4 small persian seedless cucumbers (or one large seedless cucumber)
Vinegar (or Lemon/Lime) for drizzling
Honey for drizzling
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
Handful of fresh mint and cilantro leaves - torn + fennel fronds
1. Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds in the sunflower oil along with the gochugaru and salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven - remove in 8-10 minutes and set aside to cool.
2. Roughly cut pitted cherries in half. Take the bottom part of the fennel and slice off the very bottom root. Using a mandoline, very carefully begin running the root edge along the bottom to create thin slices (they will look “U” shaped) - about ⅛ inch thick. With the same thickness, take the cantaloupe, and run the long side of the wedge along the mandoline to make extremely thin slices. Take the cucumbers, and also run them through the mandolin to make either long ribbons or diagonal thin slices, or rounds.
*If you do not have a mandoline, you can use a peeler and run it along each of the above ingredients to create "ribbons".
3. Arrange all of the fruit and veg on a platter, mounding the ribbons and then arranging the cherries over top. Drizzle the olive oil, honey, and vinegar (or lemon/lime) over the salad to taste. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and garnish with fresh mint, cilantro, and fennel fronds.
In my iteration above, I used vinegar from a brand I tried that sells at Whole Foods called Acid League. I used their Meyer Lemon Honey vinegar. Using this, I didn't add any additional honey to my dish. I splurged on Acid League because it has live cultures within the vinegar which is great for contributing to a healthy microbiome in the gut. Plus, they really have a tasty product.
Also from Whole Foods, I used the Garcia de la Cruz olive oil - it tastes incredible and is a really wonderful finishing olive oil. I like this company because of the sustainability practices they implement into their olive groves, and they're very transparent about their practices.
Another ingredient I would love to highlight is the beautiful flowering cilantro from my favorite farm stand Mitch's Provisions - always providing incredible quality produce at a reasonable price from a not-too-distant farm. The variety always amazes me!
As I mentioned earlier too, I can't believe how much fun I had with a damn cherry pitter. Perhaps there's only really one time a year that I'll be using it, but wow the satisfaction of having a tub of pitted cherries just waiting to be eaten like candy made it worth every penny and every square inch of my utensils drawer it's taking up.
Lastly, I'd be remiss to not give a big shout out to my nana who passed along this stunning depression glass serving platter. It was truly the REAL cherry on top for this maiden voyage of my food styling journey.