Fruit by definition is nature’s candy.
With that being said, I think that most people can agree the candy is the sweetest during summer. Just think about all the varieties that are peaking during this time. Apricots, peaches, strawberries, blueberries and of course, cherries. Cherries are one of summer’s quintessential fruits that without a doubt catch your eye when shopping at you local grocery store or farmer’s market. Their ruby red color is so vibrant it can leave you speechless. Just look at these beauties.
The color is no deception. During the summer months, fresh cherries are so ripe, juicy, and bursting with sweetness. There is no wonder why I couldn’t help but keep popping them into my mouth (and yes…spitting out the seeds) as I was making this recipe. Good thing nature’s candy is filled with natural goodness! Speaking of natural goodness, lets talk cherry nutrition.
Cherries | 1 cup (~ 16 cherries) has 80 kcals and 3 g of fiber. Cherries are good sources of vitamin C and also contain potassium and vitamin A. However, the real benefit from cherries are their abundance of antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of chronic disease. They are actually one of the top 20 foods for containing antioxidants! This may contribute to the fruit’s ability to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and gout. A specific antioxidant found in cherries is anthocyanins. This phytochemical gives cherries their red hue and has a role in protecting the body from lifestyle diseases. Also, if you are looking for a natural sleep-aid, cherries are a source of melatonin (which regulates are body’s sleep cycle).
This salad comes together quite easily, with the majority of work coming from pitting the cherries. I know, it’s so much easier to pop a cherry into your mouth and spit out the seed, but that obliviously does not work when making a dish to share. Thankfully there are nifty tools like cherry pitters to help with this process.
But you don’t have a cherry pitter? No problem! I find that a hard plastic straw works perfectly to poke the seed out the other end of the fruit. Some other creative ideas include a paperclip, chopstick and hairpin. Check more creative ideas here!
To grill the asparagus, I used a grill pan on the stove. But if you want to take advantage of grilling-season then by all means this can be done outside on a grill. On the grill-pan over medium heat, the asparagus took about 8 minutes until they were tender (mine were rather skinny). I am assuming it would take less time on an outside grill but I am by no means an expert in that area.
For the rest of the salad, I kept things simple. I used baby red butter lettuce which is so soft and tender. (I definitely recommend this variety if you can get your hands on some!). I added red onion and parsley for flavor and then just placed the asparagus ad cherries on top. To finish it off I sprinkle on hemp seeds.
MAKE THIS A MEAL | To make this a meal I recommend adding a source of lean protein. I topped mine with garbanzo beans but a piece of wild caught fish like halibut or salmon would go nicely!
Red Butter Lettuce with Cherries and Grilled Asparagus Salad
- 4 cups red butter lettuce
- 4 oz asparagus
- 5 oz cherries
- 1/4 small red onion
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp cherry concentrate*
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Place a grill pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray or olive oil. While the pan is heating, snap off the ends of the asparagus (the stem will break where it becomes tender, about an inch from the bottom). Place the asparagus on the grill pan and spray or brush with olive oil. Let them cook for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once done cooking, remove from the heat and let cool.
While the asparagus is cooking, slice the red onion into very thin strips, and place in water to soak until ready to assemble (this keeps them crisp and makes them less pungent).
Next, pit the cherries (I use a plastic straw; a paper clip works well also) and slice in half.
In a bowl place the lettuce, onions and parsley and toss. Place grilled asparagus and cherries on top and sprinkle with hemp seeds.
Place ingredients in a air tight jar and shake till emulsified before serving. Dressing can be placed on the salad or served on the side.