Breaking news: Cherries are here, and if you want a piece of the crimson fruit action, you had better step on it. As reported in LNP | LancasterOnline last week, this year’s haul at local orchards is smaller due to a cold snap in mid-May. Even in a good year, they are notoriously perishable, so ready, set, cherry.
While the getting is good, cherries are top of mind this week in Stay-Put Cooking. To start, we do a salsa, with pitted cherries kicking tomatoes to the curb while they continue to ripen on the vine. Cherries love savory partners like onion, herbs and chile pepper just as much as tomatoes do, and its chunky texture has versatile appeal, from grains and grilled fish to roast chicken and corn.
The bulk of the work is in pitting the cherries, which requires some advance prep time and an apron or smock to protect your clothes from splattering juices. After that, the salsa is a snap to stir together and can be as spicy (or not) as you wish, inviting creativity based on what you have on hand.
Later this week: A sweet preparation (and no, it's not cherry pie).
Ad Hoc Sweet Cherry Salsa
- 1 ½ pounds cherries, washed and pitted
- ¼ cup red onion or scallions, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- ½ fresh chile pepper of choice, finely chopped
- Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
- ¼ to ½ cup any or all of the following fresh herbs: mint, parsley, cilantro, stemmed and finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
Place the cherries in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the onion and the citrus juice and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Add the chile pepper and the ginger, if using. Stir in the herbs, salt, sugar and the soaked onions. Taste and add more salt or sugar as needed.