That was fast—yesterday’s temperatures in Boston tied a record for hottest May 14 going back to the 19th century. This New England gal was not prepared, and I wilted. No cooking for me, even turning on the stove for the light cooking I’d planned was just not happening. Instead, I had salad, specifically a delicious Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Cherry Vinaigrette.
Dinner when it’s hot
When the temps soar unexpectedly, I can be found doing one of three things for dinner: 1) spreads and olives with crudité; 2) salad with some kind of fun dressing, or, when I just give up; 3) ice cream. Crudité is so much better when there’s loads of fresh veggies from the farmer’s market, and, I’d had ice cream for dinner already last week. So, Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Cherry Vinaigrette it was.
Cherry jam and memories of Switzerland
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a work conference in Switzerland, Davos to be exact (no, not that conference). I stayed at the Seehof Davos hotel, and the impressive daily breakfast spread included homemade cherry jam, made with cherries from that summer.
I almost missed it the first morning, but, dear reader, I would have taken a bath in that stuff if they’d let me. I don’t even know what to tell you except YUM. No cherry jam will ever taste as exquisite. (And, speaking of baths, I still think of the luxurious tub I had there.)
I suppose another memory of Switzerland I have is relevant here as well. I decided while there that if I was going to eat that much cheese, that I needed to have something green on my plate at lunch and dinner. Everything is jaw-droppingly expensive in Switzerland (except for beer and wine), but that green thing on my plate costs the GDP of a small nation. Explaining my meal expenses to my boss was super fun.
Make Cherry Vinaigrette with jam or preserves when cherries aren’t in season, but you just need some cherry goodness. Use decent jam, (alas, it likely won’t be the fabulous Swiss jam). In summer, I’d make this in the food processor with fresh cherries and maybe a little honey instead of jam.
You build it in the same way as other vinaigrettes, and this is more of a method than a recipe. Do note that you’re really going to have to shake it to get things to blend properly. Balsamic vinegar is generally called for in these types of dressings, but I have sherry vinegar, and I wanted to recreate some flavors from the original shallot confit recipe that inspired my Shallot Cranberry Confit variation. Cherry Vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar results in a complex, nutty dressing that I found myself dipping extra bread into to make sure that I got it all.
Plus, saying cherry sherry over and over again amused me while I made this. Yep, your gal is a paragon of maturity. If you don’t have sherry vinegar on hand, don’t sweat it. Just use balsamic and make any adjustments you need (I don’t think that you’ll be able to rhyme cherry and balsamic, but please let me know if you find a way).
Building the salad
As befits hot weather, Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Cherry Vinaigrette is pretty much just adding the greens and fixings to your bowl and dressing. You’ll have Cherry Vinaigrette, and it’s just as good on simple dressed greens.
Be sure to have a good hunk of bread on hand, because Cherry Vinaigrette is a winner, and you’re going to want to sop it all up.
I haven’t tried this yet, but now that it’s in my mind, I may use Cherry Vinaigrette to marinade pork when it cools down enough to cook again (maybe make the marinade with balsamic vinegar?). If you try it, let me know?
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Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Cherry Vinaigrette
For the Cherry Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbs sherry vinegar substitute balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp minced shallots
- 1 tbs cherry jam or preserves I do a heaping and I mean HEAPING tablespoon
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Salad
- 1 handful salad greens
- 1 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- sliced toasted almonds to taste
- dried cherries, chopped optional, to taste
Make the Cherry Vinaigrette
- In a mason jar with lid or a bowl, add the olive oil. Close the lid and shake (or stir vigorously with a fork) until little bubbles appear in the olive oil
- Add the vinegar and shake again vigorously to combine. Repeat with the jam and the shallots. You will need to shake longer than usual for a vinaigrette to get this to combine.
- Taste, and then season with kosher salt and black pepper. Taste again and make any adjustments. Before serving, give it a good shake
Assemble the Salad
- Add the greens and goat cheese to the plate or salad bowl. Top with almonds and dried cherries. Dress the salad as desired