Easy Everyday: Cherry-Arugula Salad with Almonds and Tarragon

June 27, 2012

cherry arugula salad
Photo by Nicole Franzen; styled by Mariya Yufest

It's hard to say who first combined cherries with almonds, but there's no denying that this duo has long enjoyed each other's company. Perhaps the first meeting happened by accident -- after all, these two stone fruits can grow in similar climates and have lineage in common, coming from the same genus, Prunus, which is shared by fellow stone fruits apricot, plum, peach, and nectarine.

Indeed, the almond is not technically a nut, but a drupe. Just like olives, mangoes, pistachios, and the aforementioned stone fruits, almonds have a hard core with a seed inside, all of which is surrounded by a fleshy exterior. The only problem in the almond's case is that after a brief youthful period of edibility (at which point the fruit is known as a green almond), the outer flesh becomes fuzzy, gray, and tough -- not something a cherry would likely befriend. But within that downy coat is the fully developed kernel we know as the almond, teeming with vitamin E, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and trace minerals like manganese and copper. It was only a matter of time before almond's wooly cloak came off and the two became inseparable.

Here, the outspoken pair of botanical cousins finds itself at home in a grain-and-green salad. Baby arugula tempers the cherries' sweetness, while an oil-free dressing gets a boost from the naturally occurring fats in a few extra almonds that are tossed in the blender.

Note: Between the cherries in the salad and those in the red-violet dressing, you'll need to pit and halve about two cups. If a cherry pitter isn't a member of your gadget arsenal, grab a chopstick, a narrow-necked bottle (e.g. one that held beer), and follow FOOD52's method for a quick kitchen hack.

Cherry-Arugula Salad with Almonds and Tarragon

Serves 6

2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons slivered almonds, divided
1/2 pound cherries (about 2 cups), pitted and halved, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
5 ounces baby arugula
1 1/2 cup cooked whole grains (e.g. barley, farro, wheat berries, wild rice)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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Wine Pairings:

We just picked up our first bag of cherries from the farmers' market, and I'm preparing this salad for our dinner tonight. It's 100 degrees outside today and my wife said I couldn't turn the oven on! We're going to drink Friulano, one of our household favorites. It sort of drinks like Sauvignon Blanc meets Pinot Grigio. Really though, you could drink any number of whites: Chardonnay (for it's weight and texture), Grüner Veltliner (for it's green-vegetable qualities), or Sauvignon Blanc (for it's snappiness). All will be great combinations with cool summer fare.

Top Picks

2009 Simcic Sauvignonesse (Friulano), Slovenia
2010 Hiedler "Löss" Grüner Veltliner, Austria

Jake Rosenbarger

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How do you enjoy the pairing of cherries and almonds? Do you have another method for easily pitting cherries with regular household items? Share your cooking tips and ideas in the comments section below.

Like this post? See the Easy Everyday topic from last week: Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri.

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