This is a perfect salad in early summer, when the strawberries and cherries are both in season and available at road-side stands and farmers markets all over the northwest. It’s also a nice treat once in a while out of season. Yes, I know they are not local this time of year, but occasionally you need a reminder that winter will eventually end…and some sweet dark berries is a good way to do that.
- Mixed greens as desired – enough to fill a large bowl.
- 5~6 fresh strawberries, tops removed and sliced into 1/8″ thick slices
- 25~30 cherries, pitted and sliced into 4 slices each – divided
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 1/4 balsamic vinegar
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- small sprig fresh rosemary leaves (about 1-1/2 tsp)
Start out warming the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop the walnuts, then mix with the honey. Spread evenly across a baking pan and put in the oven for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, give them a good stir and go for another 5 minutes. If they have a nice golden caramel color after 10 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside. If not, repeat one more time for 5 minutes longer, then remove and set aside to cool completely.
Get all of the berries and cherries sliced up, reserving 5 or 6 cherries for the dressing. Place them into bowls and set aside. We don’t want to actually mix all the salad ingredients until right before serving so that everything stays crisp (the greens), juicy (the fruit), and crunchy (the nuts).
Combine the remaining cherries with the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and fresh rosemary in a small food processor or blender. Give it a whirl for about 20 seconds or so to puree the cherries and cut up the rosemary pretty good as well. Transfer to a dressing jar or bottle and refrigerate until ready to use. Make sure to shake it well before actually serving, of course, because it will start to separate.
Just before you are ready to serve, it is time to throw everything together (except the dressing). Bust up the walnuts if they are stuck together at all, then add with the cherries and strawberries to the mixed greens. Give it a gentle toss to combine, and serve with a little cherry balsamic dressing on top. Take a bite and think about the warmer months and sunshine that are on their way!