Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cheery Cherries

Santa Barbara is notorious for its June Gloom. It showed up right on schedule this year but must have gotten bored and left early. Clearly no one here has missed it. We've been too busy soaking up the sunshine and warm weather instead. 

It actually feels like Summertime, which doesn't always happen during Summertime in Santa Barbara. And Summer to me is salad season! Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen when you can be at the beach? You want to throw together something quick and delicious and also take advantage of the bounty of vegetables and fruits so abundant right now. Rainer cherries are in season at the moment so I couldn't help but buy a big bag of those cheerful globes. I saw a recipe for a cherry and spinach salad that looked ideal. 

Did I mention it also had bacon in it? Let's be honest. That's what sealed the deal for me. Plus, bacon adds a protein component to the one-dish meal (my attempt at justifying the bacon). But that's probably negated by the fact that the dressing has bacon grease in it. 

In bacon's defense, it turned out to be very complimentary to the lemon vinaigrette and added a hint of saltiness that seemed to actually enhance the sweetness of the cherries.

I served it to a friend who told me it was the best salad he'd ever had. I know it sounds vain but I kind of agree. 

Spinach Salad with Bacon and Cherries
from Sunset

8 oz thick-cut bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 oz baby spinach
8 oz pitted Rainier cherries
1 Tbsp each Champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 oz shaved manchego cheese
1/2 a ripe avocado

1. Cook bacon until desired crispiness. Drain on paper towels and reserve bacon grease. 
2. Mix vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tsp reserved bacon grease salt, and pepper together and whisk until emulsified. 
3. Toss the spinach, avocados and cherries in dressing to coat. Sprinkle bacon and cheese on top and serve. 
Note: Serves 4

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