Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

This past Saturday, I walked through the Seattle University District Farmers Market with–gasp–no goal. I let the season’s bounty and the culinary muses set the agenda. The muses, aroused by my atypical lack of planning, whispered sweet nothings in my ear: “cherries, cherries, cherries.”

Luckily, several growers’ tables were piled high with sweet cherries (Bings, Rainiers, and Chelans) and one grower had oh-so-hard-to-find Montmorency pie cherries as well. But at $10 a pound, I will plan what to make with these, perhaps next week.

In the meanwhile, the sweet cherries were selling for between $5 and $7 a pound, depending on the grower. The Bings were particularly sweet with a nice balancing acidity, so they were any easy choice.

Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

Next, my nose found its way to an overflowing basket of freshly picked spearmint. It was a short hop from that purchase to a handful of basil–and a cherry and herb salad began to take shape.

Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

The pea vines were intended for another dish. However, when I saw the pretty crimson cherries (now pitted and halved) on the plates, glistening with creamy lime vinaigrette, I couldn’t help thinking that a bit more green was needed. So I tasted the pea vines with the cherries. Voila! Just what the muses had in mind all along.

Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint & Creamy Lime Vinaigrette

This is a far cry from the fruit salads I knew as a kid–dessert-like affairs with shredded coconut and miniature marshmallows. It is a rather recent revelation to me how spectacular berries and fruit can be as components in savory salads. It was pure happenstance that brought together sweet cherries and pea vines in this recipe. I like the flavor pairing so much that I added pea vines to the margin under Cherries in my copy of The Flavor Bible.

Creamy Lime Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup not overly pungent extra virgin olive oil (or half EVO and half canola oil)
4 teaspoons sugar
pinch salt

2 pounds fresh sweet cherries (Bings, Rainiers, or Chelans)
large handful tender pea vines (or other tender salad greens)
2 tablespoons finely slivered fresh spearmint
2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil
finely grated lime zest

  1. To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, sugar, and salt. Taste and adjust the balance of acid, sugar, and salt as needed. Reserve.
  2. Using a cherry pitter, pit the cherries and cut each in half lengthwise. Put cherries into a medium mixing bowl and toss with enough of the dressing to lightly coat.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl, toss the pea vines with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Arrange the pea vines on four salad plates.
  4. Arrange cherries on top of pea vines and finish each serving with a sprinkle of slivered mint and basil. Grate a little lime zest over each and serve.

Serves 4

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Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. says

    After being slapped upside the head with tempting signs for Flathead Lake cherries while in Montana, I promptly came home and got some Michigan cherries. Too bad I pulled my pea vines after the heat wore them down–I’ll keep my eyes out for more as I’d love the flavors in this salad.

  2. says

    I absolutely adore cherries in many creations! Recently I made a cherry and onion crostini, absolutely delicious. Your recipe looks so vibrant and colorful, beautiful pictures as always! The way you combine the fruity and herbal flavors in one bowl are genius and wonderful!
    Florian recently posted…Summer Tofu SkewersMy Profile

  3. says

    I was intrigued me to see this on FB today: I wasn’t aware that pea vines even went this late to intersect with the cherry season. I’m always one for fruit in a green salad but I haven’t tried fresh cherries that way, though I use dried cherries in salads often. You always have some extra flavors that I wouldn’t have thought of, here even more than the pea vines it’s the spearmint.
    Mary recently posted…Cocoa Cherry Energy BarsMy Profile

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      JillA, thanks for stopping by. Do try this if you get a chance. The cherries are great of course, but now I’m in love with pea vines as well. :-)

  4. says

    how fortunate we are to have such an array of colorful healthy veggies and how great it is that you demonstrate how to get it all together to be palatable! thanx for sharing…your photos are incredible – dripping right across the screen! The pea vines are adorable!and so ALIVE!


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