Simple Garden Recipes With Cherries And Berries

Strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar.

Baked goat cheese and lettuce salad with cherries.

When eating seasonally, the garden often dictates our menu. Right now we have cherries, strawberries and lettuces in full swing, and while we will preserve some of the fruit, we try to eat it at its peak. We also try not to do much with the main ingredient, if we grew lettuces or berries, that what we want to enjoy. So with that in mind, here are the first of a series of quick, simple recipes that highlight fresh produce straight from the garden or farmers market. This is also what we tend to have for lunch these days.

Our first recipe is a simple combination of strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. That’s all. You just clean the strawberries and put out some sour cream and light brown sugar. Just dip the strawberry in a bit of sour cream and then the brown sugar. The flavor is sweet, sour and tangy- with just a touch of molasses from the brown sugar. Instant dessert. And pretty, too.

Simple, but very tasty.

It is worth noting that this is our second crop of strawberries this season. And we do see a pattern emerging. The first crop is tasty, but often somewhat aesthetically challenged, with misshapen fruit. The second crop comes in with more consistent shape and color- so these kind of easy preparations look very appealing at the table. We put these strawberries out and they get eaten, quickly.

Some strawberries from our second crop, these look better than the first crop.

Our other simple recipe is a baked goat cheese, lettuce and cherry salad. Baked goat cheese salads have been around for a while, but they are still a great lunch or starter salad and a lovely meat-free dish. And the same basic recipe applies to most stone fruit or berries. If you have strawberries or blackberries or even peaches, you can use this recipe. One key is to taste your goat cheese and then select the fruit that best matches the flavor. Goat cheese ranges widely from creamy to chalky and sweet to very tart. Tart cheese tastes good with sweet stone fruits, while sweeter cheese tastes best with tart strawberries or blackberries (to us, at least). But these are fun experiments, try what you like. In this case we used a creamy, but tart, local goat cheese from Harley Farms to match our very sweet cherries, and it was delicious.

Ingredients for baked goat cheese, lettuce and cherry salad.

Baking the goat cheese and breadcrumbs.

As for making the salad, it is easy, but has a few steps. Firstly cut the cheese into disks and sprinkle with fresh herbs and olive oil. Then make (or buy) some breadcrumbs and lightly coat the cheese with the breadcrumbs. Then bake in a 400 degree oven for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile wash and dry your greens (remember the dryer the greens, the better the salad), make a quick vinaigrette and prepare your fruit. When ready to serve, dress the salad and then arrange greens, a disk or two of the cheese and some fruit on a salad plate. Simple, tasty and beautiful. There’s a reason you see this dish at restaurants, it works.

Make a quick, flavorful vinaigrette.

Arrange on the plate, season and serve.

And we are eating this salad (and others) quite a bit, as our greens are in full swing. This is a good problem to have. The next crops to tackle are the sugar-snap peas and the zucchini (which finally got going). We already have a few recipes in mind, more to come…

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar:

What You Get: A tasty, quick dessert that highlights fresh strawberries.

What You Need: No special equipment required. But the better the strawberry, the better the dish.

How Long: 5 minutes or less. Anytime dish.

Ingredients:

(serves 4-6)

  • 2-3 cups of fresh strawberries, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • Mint for garnish

Assemble:

  1. Wash and dry the strawberries and place in a bowl or on a plate. Put the sour cream and brown sugar in small bowls. Garnish with mint, if you like. Serve.

Baked Goat Cheese and Lettuce Salad with Cherries:

Notes Before You Start:

  • Many fruits work in this dish. Cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches all work well.

What You Get: A tasty, multi-dimensional salad. A flavorful, meat-free meal.

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? About 45 minutes, mostly inactive, if making your breadcrumbs. If using existing, or store-bought breadcrumbs, this salad takes 15-20 minutes to assemble.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

  • 2-3 dozen cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 pound fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil for drizzling on cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary and parsley
  • 1/2 baguette or firm white bread, preferably stale, if making breadcrumbs (otherwise 1/2 cup breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry and/or red wine vinegar (50/50 is good)
  • 1/4 cup olive and/or walnut oil for dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound fresh lettuces, washed and dried
  • Salt and pepper

Assemble:

  1. To make the breadcrumbs, preheat the oven to 300 degrees then slice the bread lengthwise. Bake the bread until it dries out, about 20 minutes. Use a food processor or grater to create the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  2. Slice or shape the goat cheese into 8 disks. Then sprinkle with the herbs and drizzle with the 1/2 cup olive oil. The cheese can marinate in the oil, refrigerated, for up to a few days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll each cheese disk in a light coating of the breadcrumbs. Arrange the cheese disks on a baking sheet and bake for about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the 1/4 cup olive or walnut oil, the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Dress the greens, you may not need all the dressing.
  5. Place the greens on a place and arrange the cheese disks and the cherries around the greens. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
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21 thoughts on “Simple Garden Recipes With Cherries And Berries

  1. This is something that clicks with me straight away … and something I have try after my trip. Love everything about it. Thank you so much for … sending this my way – we are now going on file.

  2. Yum! I love a baked goat cheese salad but have never made one. I didn’t realize it was so easy! (I guess I just thought it might be tricky to bake the goat cheese without ending up with a melty, gooey mess….)

    • It is easier than you think…making the baked cheese also works in a toaster oven…so if you have one it is pretty low-effort.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Baked some goat cheese today and it was a melty, gooey disaster! I’m wondering if the kind of goat cheese I used (Humboldt Fog) was maybe just a little too soft and gooey to use for this kind of preparation…? In any case, despite my cheesy mess, the salad I made with it tasted lovely and I’ll be posting about it soon. :)

      • Yikes, sorry. We use harley farms goat cheese, but really you just want a firm cheve-style log or round without the rind. The humbolt is good stuff, but may be too soft.

        Glad the salad tasted good…

  3. These are all just about perfect tastes for summer. We are finally feeling summer…it’s hot! Meals change and entertaining is best served in bites! Between these and your cocktails, we’ll be styling! You’re probably lucky I don’t live close by. You’d find me with my nose pressed against your kitchen window! :-) Debra

  4. Oh, no! Now I’m craving goat cheese in a major way. I might have to try this (or something like) in the next few days. Goat cheese is one of those things that I crave once a year or so and the craving MUST be satisfied.

  5. Both recipes sound delicious and I’m always thinking about how I can use strawberries and lettuce together! I have a receipe for spinach salad with strawberries but I always have a lot more lettuce than spinach so these will be great to try as well. Love goat cheese too!

  6. Pingback: Cherry And Chocolate Chip Muffins « Putney Farm

  7. Pingback: not-so-quick lunch – 6.29.12 – a tasty salad (and why I shouldn’t tempt fate) « humble feast

  8. Pingback: Brown Sugar Poundcake (And A Bunny In The Kitchen) « Putney Farm

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