Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

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Bing Cherry Pea Vine Salad with Lime Vinaigrette1 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.

Seasons First Bing Cherries in a Colander 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.

Northwest Bing Cherries with Fresh Basil Mint 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.

Bing Cherry Pea Vine Salad with Lime Vinaigrette Closeup 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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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

Comments

  1. OMG. This sounds & looks so delicious!! Yummy. Thank you Susan.

  2. 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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