It’s cherry season!
To understand how happy I am that cherry season is here, you need to know what happened last year in Niagara. Last spring, actually. We experienced weather in March that was beyond balmy. It was downright warm. So warm that we planted radishes and peas and harvested both before we normally would have planted them. So warm that the trees were tricked into budding early. Too early. An unfortunate hard frost came through and wiped out the local cherry crop, along with a lot of the other tree fruits. Cherries were hardest hit, though. We managed a meagre basket, found early one morning at the market, and that was the beginning, middle and end of cherry season for 2012.
A little local shopping
After getting some wonderful cheese from Upper Canada Cheese , we stopped at a fruit stand for more juicy red orbs (that’s 3L so far just in one week). I had pulled some Lakeland Meats wild boar sausage out of the freezer for supper. So with sausage and a halloumi style cheese on the menu, and an abundance of cherries begging to be consumed, I wanted something fresh to round out the meal. Inspired by a recent food truck meal of sausage, cheese, pickles and dried cherries (the Farmer’s Plate offered by The Yellow Pear), I turned some of the luscious fruits into a salsa.
Cherries are really amazing. Loaded with anti-oxidants and flavonoids, they’ve been touted as healing for conditions from arthritis to migraines. But what I really love about them is how well they play with rich foods. Balanced by a little acid and heat, this salsa would be a wonderful complement to a charcuterie platter or even duck (oooh, confit duck with cherry salsa… smoked duck breast with cherry salsa…). It was the ideal foil for the cheese and sausage (seriously, cherries and wild boar – YUM). I probably ate more of both than I should have, but it was just too good to stop.
Fresh Cherry Basil Salsa
Don’t let the cinnamon throw you. It rounds out the entire mixture, bringing everything together.
1 1/2 C pitted, coarsely chopped sweet cherries
3 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeno (or more, to taste)
2 teaspoons fruity vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2-4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and chill for a few hours to blend the flavours.