Ode to the Cherry.
You luscious, elegant, droopy stone fruit gem, dangling from the tree.
Perfect as earrings for a little girl climbing the limbs of that tree in the orchard.
Can’t have Cherry Garcia ice cream without you. Black Forest Torte, unless You are present, is just another chocolate cake.
Spring throws a party when the your pink blossoms abound.
Scarlet red, sweet and oh so juicy. Da bomb. (get it, da bomb, cherry bomb??)
Right, I’m not a poet, not even close. I guess I could have laboured over a haiku, but that’s not my forte. Yes, I love cherries. One of my favourite fruits. Such a short season for a small fruit that packs such a flavour punch. As a little girl, I would climb our cherry trees and eat away, till the eventual stomach ache kicked in. And reflecting on cherries, I remember that in one Bobbsey Twin book (come on, I’m not the only one who had the entire collection, right?!) Nan was so excited to receive a cherry coloured twin set. I could vividly picture that sweater and cardigan combo, in that deep rich cherry colour. After that, I always secretly wanted a cherry red twinset myself. I think I’m past it now!! Not really a twinset kind of girl anymore.
Here in Toronto, Cherry Blossom time is serious business. Not unlike Washington, or Vancouver, or any lovely spot in Japan! Visitors and locals alike make the trek to High Park to be wowed by a cornucopia of pale pink. So delicate, and once they fall, such a gorgeous pink carpet they create. There is a frenzy by photographers and wedding party groups to get in before they fall to the ground.
When they hit the market, I buy pint upon pint of cherries. Some for creating with, and some just to eat. ‘Cuz they are slightly addictive. Eating cherry after cherry and spitting out the stones. Kinda like watermelon. Back when watermelon had seeds!! They have such an intense sweetness. Unless of course they are sour cherries. Those ones are sour….duh.
But did you know that cherries are super good for you? They deserve a seat at the head table of superfoods. They help fight belly fat, and lover inflammation markers linked to heart disease and diabetes. They lower blood levels of cholesterol, can help you fight gout, help with muscle inflammation and soreness, and provide natural osteoarthritis relief. They also reduce stroke risk and even help you sleep!! Cherries and cherry juice are a powerful arsenal!
This year for the first time I’m also making a shrub with cherries. A shrub is basically a sweetened vinegar made with fruit. It becomes a syrup that you can then later use in drinks, in salad dressings, over even as a reduction or glaze over meat dishes. Cherries and proteins pair so well together. Here’s the link to the recipe I use to make shrubs. You can use any berry or even some other stone fruits to create them. And add peppercorns or other spices (like whole anise or allspice or even juniper berries) to enhance the shrub even more. How to Make a Fruit Shrub.
This ‘bruschetta’ is such an easy way to add cherries to your Spring and Summer plates. I love the juiciness of the fruit against the creaminess of the ricotta and the crunchiness of the bread. The lemon is a perfect counterpoint to the cherry. They come together so easily. Just a bit of slicing, stirring and spreading. And eating. And smiling!! I love these for breakfast, but they would make an absolutely gorgeous appetizer.
Cherry Crostini with Lemon Ricotta
A luscious topping for your baguette or toast, macerated cherries over a lemon infused ricotta cheese layer.
- 6 oz sweet cherries pitted and chopped, about 1 1/4 cups
- 1 tbsp packed coconut palm sugar
- 4 slices rustic sourdough bread or 8-12 slices of baguette (depending on the size of baguette and how hungry you are)
- 2 tbsp EV olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
- zest of one lemon plus some more for garnishing (or thinly slice the skin-not the pith- into strips and then slice these very thinly)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Combine the cherries and sugar in a bowl and let macerate for 10 minutes.
Brush the bread with olive oil and toast till golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Mix the ricotta and lemon in a bowl.
Spread the ricotta over the bread slices. Top with the cherries, Sprinkle extra zest curls over the cherries. Serve immediately.
You could easily substitute the cherries for apricots, peaches, plums, or even blackberries or strawberries.
By Editors of Martha Stewart Living
Adapted from Clean Slate, a Cookbook and Guide.