I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve abruptly slammed on my brakes at the sight of fruit for sale since moving to California. Don’t worry, I’m careful. But at least one of every 10 drives involves a brake and swerve.
In this case, it was local cherries.
I’d lost track of the timing since last year, and I wasn’t quite sure what week to expect seeing trucks with them for sale parked at intersections. I was less than a mile from the house last week, when a truck came into view.
No. It couldn’t be. Is it that time already?
I was coming from behind the display so the truck was blocking my view. But just as I got close enough to see those round, glossy cherries piled high in cups lining a folding table – brake, swerve, park.
Cherry season comes earlier here than for most of the rest of the country, but it is similar in the fact that it is short. Just a few weeks. So I buy them quickly and I buy a lot.
And wow, are they good this year!
If you are used to buying your fruits locally, you know that every fruit is not the same every season. It’s always good, but weather conditions play a big role in the sugar content within the fruit. Some years it makes a normally good fruit, unbelievably sweet and juicy. That’s the cherries around here this year.
Now what to do with them. Well, except eat them fresh which I have done in record amounts.
We’re about 4 weeks into the kitchen remodel at this point. I knew that relying on pre-made salads and microwave meals would be challenging, but what is more challenging than the eating is not being able to cook! It’s not the food I want, but the cooking process.
This week I felt like I would go crazy if I didn’t cook something. Anything. So I piled up all the fruits and veggies I could and set out for an afternoon grilling session. I cooked up a lot, but after you wash prep trays, mixing bowls, cutting boards, and all the rest in a very small laundry room sink, you realize why you had held off on doing this for a while.
Nonetheless, the results were worth it. My main goal with grilling was to work in those cherries. I’ve made grilled cherries for cocktails in the past, so this time I decided to try it in a salad.
The result is this tasty dish that combines the smoky grilled cherries with protein-rich garbanzo beans. It’s dressed with lime juice and salt. Cilantro and green onions give it a pop of savory flavor. Finally a sprinkle of Cotija cheese adds a salty touch to balance the sweetness from the cherries.
Eat it at room temp or chilled. And feel free to have it for breakfast like I did this morning.
Grilled Cherry Salad with Garbanzo Beans, Cilantro, and Lime
Makes about 3 servings
What you’ll need:
2 cups pitted fresh cherries
1 (15.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija cheese
How to make it:
Preheat the grill to 350 to 375 degrees.
Slide the cherries on grilling skewers, 8 to 10 cherries per skewer depending on the size of both your cherries and the skewers. Grill for about 5 minutes, flipping at least once, until they begin to darken and soften. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool.
Stir together the garbanzo beans, green onions, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Once the cherries are cool enough to touch, cut each in half and add them to the bowl. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the salt. Stir to combine all ingredients.
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cheese. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Note: If foods often stick to your grill, feel free to brush the grate with a cooking oil. I typically don’t have a problem with cherries sticking.