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Posts Tagged ‘dried cherries’

I’ve been meaning to make this salad for about a week now. I had all of the ingredients gathered (sort of), and then life took over, I got busy and the week passed. Thank goodness kale is a hearty beast of a vegetable. She held together quite nicely with hardly a wilt while wrapped in plastic and shoved in the vegetable crisper.

Once again, I give Heidi Swanson credit for inspiring yet another recipe. This is how it works: I contemplate making a simple dish for dinner, and my blog, I pick up Super Natural Every Day, let the pages flutter by until something jumps out at me. This week it was her Whole Grain Rice Salad that popped off the page and said hello. Well, I didn’t have about most of the ingredients, so I used Heidi’s recipe as a guide. I poked around my kitchen and grabbed a jar of black quinoa to mix with regular quinoa, kale and cilantro make an appearance, (a combination that I feared may be fateful), dried cherries and ricotta salata. Oh, and pistachio’s for a bit of a crunch.

This was almost another case of too many ingredients in the pot (I was really worried about the kale/cilantro combo) but this salad turned out to be earthy and bright and perfect for this grey and humid summer’s day.

Cheers!

Thanks to Bon Appetit for featuring this post on bonappetit.com!

Black and White Quinoa Salad with a Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing

Inspired by Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson

What you’ll need~

2 cups black and regular quinoa, cooked

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped and steamed

Handful of dried cherries

Handful of shelled pistachios

Handful of cilantro leaves to sprinkle on the finished dish

Handful of crumbled ricotta salata

Pinch or two coarse sea salt

For the dressing~

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 Champagne vinegar

7-10 cilantro leaves

8-10 dried cherries

Pinch of sea salt

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.

Fold all of the salad ingredients together, save the cheese and cilantro, in a large bowl. Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with salad dressing, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and a few pinches of coarse sea salt. Serve warm.

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I’m usually a less is more kinda of gal. I rarely wear more than once piece of jewelry, I own one winter coat (although that’s starting to change with Portland’s crazy weather), and I don’t like putting too many ingredients in the pot. I like to keep the marriage of tastes to a minimum so picking out subtle flavors happens pleasantly and naturally.

But this morning was a little different. I have a couple of sacks of dried cherries that were a gift from one of my most favorite commercial clients, The Cherry Country. When she handed them too me the first thing that popped into my head was: asparagus. I’ve never cooked with dried cherries before, but these plump, juicy but not too sweet dried Royal Ann cherries (love the name) just swooned for asparagus. The problem was, that I had about another month before asparagus started to nod their little green heads at the markets.

Boy was it worth the wait. These little guys are delicate crisp and lemony and perfectly complimented the Royal Annies.

I had intended only to toss in some caramelized shallots, shredded prosciutto and crumbled ricotta salata to complete the dish, then, I remembered that I had a tiny tub of untouched fennel pollen sitting patiently in my spice drawer. I froze. Would adding fennel pollen be over the top? The cherries were already a departure from my usual methods. They were on the verge of being one ingredient too many. My gut clenched up and I hesitated.

It felt wrong, but I did it anyway.

Cheers!

 Pan Fried Asparagus with Dried Cherries, Prosciutto, Ricotta Salata and Fennel Pollen

Fennel Pollen can be difficult to find. If you live in Portland, Foster and Dobbs offers it. Otherwise, there are a few online resources. It’s worth the search, though. Fennel Pollen adds a hint of delicate anise to the finish of a dish. You may not notice it at first, but it will linger on your palate as the other flavors start to fade.

What you’ll need~

One bunch of young asparagus, trim off the ends so you’re cooking with the tender green parts

Olive oil

One shallot, thinly sliced

Handful of torn or chopped prosciutto

Handful of dried cherries

Ricotta Salata

Salt

Pepper

Coarse sea salt

Fennel Pollen (optional)

~

Warm your olive oil in a large skillet until it starts to shimmer.

Toss in sliced shallots and a couple of shakes of fine sea salt.

Sauté for about a minute, until they just start to caramelize.

Place asparagus in pan in an even layer and let cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle prosciutto and cherries in during the last minute or two of cooking.

Remove from heat and place asparagus on your favorite serving platter.

Using your fingers, crumble ricotta salata over the dish.

Sprinkle a pinch or two of coarse sea salt.

Dust gently with a pinch or two of fennel pollen.

Serve warm.

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