Food of the Week: Cherries

Cherries are often perfect on their own, without incorporation into a recipe. Still, dried cherries (tart or sweet) work well in recipes, and I also found some recipes that put raw sweet cherries to good use. I don’t include anything here that uses raw tart cherries, but recipes for cherry pie, crisp, etc. abound elsewhere.

One cup of raw, pitted sweet cherries contains about 100 calories and 3 grams of fiber, and is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. The same amount of tart cherries contains about 75 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and slightly less potassium, but more vitamin C and A. The melatonin in tart cherries can improve sleep, while the anthocyanins and other nutrients in both sweet and tart cherries may help protect against cancer.

Cherry Almond Drink

Ani Phyo calls this “Cherry Malt,” but it doesn’t contain malt powder or syrup, nor does it really resemble a malt as I think of one. It’s also not that impressive in appearance, but it does taste good and is raw vegan.

2 c. cherries, pitted
¾ c. raw almonds
½ c. pitted dates
2 T. carob powder
2 T. coconut oil
2 c. water

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Will keep up to three days in the fridge.

Note: Carob powder is available in the bulk section of most food co-ops. I have found dates in bulk at co-ops as well.

Kidney Beans with
Chiles and Dried Cherries

A slight adaptation of a Mark Bittman recipe.

2 T. butter or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ c. dried cherries
2-3 T. chopped ancho or chipotle chile (rehydrated if dried)
2 t. chopped fresh cilantro
¼ c. beer, tequila, or sherry
3 c. cooked or canned kidney beans, drained
Salt and pepper

Cook the onion, cherries, and chile in the butter or oil until softened. Add the cilantro and liquid of choice, bring to a boil, and cook until nearly dry. Add the beans and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, and cook for about five minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Baked Pears
and Dried Cherries

A tasty side dish, dessert, or breakfast item.  

2 lbs. Anjou or Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and cut into ½-in. slices
1/3 c. dried cherries
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 T. brown sugar
½ t. EACH cinnamon, cumin, and coriander
¼ t. EACH cloves and ginger
Pinch salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. In a greased 9-in. baking dish, combine all the ingredients. Bake until the pears are tender, about 40 minutes.

Macerated Cherries
with Basil

This is a nice accompaniment to meat. Mint and tarragon also work well instead of basil.

1 lb. sweet cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
3–4 T. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. sugar
2 T. chopped basil
¼ t. pepper

Mix together in a medium bowl and let marinate at least 15 minutes at room temperature, stirring a couple times, or up to two days in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Dried Cherry Scones

Adapted from Health magazine.

2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar, plus some for sprinkling
1 t. baking powder
½ t. EACH baking soda, salt, and nutmeg
4 T. chilled butter
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/3 c. chopped dried cherries (tart or sweet)
1 large egg
½ c. plain yogurt or sour cream
½ c. milk
½ t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Combine the dry ingredients, through the nutmeg, in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and cherries.
2.  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients and reserve 1-2 T. of this mixture. Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring just until moist. Let dough sit two minutes, then scrape dough into the center of the baking sheet.
3. Using floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 9-in. circle. Score the dough into eight wedges with a knife or pizza cutter. Brush with the reserved wet mixture, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20-22 minutes, until dark golden brown.

Note: Use all whole-wheat pastry flour, all white flour, or a combination. All whole-wheat results in a scone of a slightly grainy texture that is also somewhat dry after a day.

Baked Cherry Omelet

Mark Bittman again. A nice brunch item.

4 eggs
½ c. sour cream, greek yogurt, or crème fraîche
1 T. flour
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 T. sugar
2 T. butter
½ c. pitted sweet cherries

Preheat the oven to 350°. Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks with the sour cream, flour, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Put the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When it melts, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then fold in the cherries. Pour into the skillet and cook for two minutes, then transfer to the oven. Bake until puffy and browned on top, 10–20 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have a large ovenproof skillet, transfer the omelet to a greased ovenproof dish after cooking them in the skillet.