This dark sweet cherry kale salad has to be my favorite salad of the year so far. It’s got all the flavors and textures, crunchy salty pistachios, creamy white cannellini beans, sweet cherries and of course lots of kale! Don’t pretend that you don’t love kale! The homemade dressing is made from dark sweet cherries and balsamic vinegar and it’s so good you could literally drink it right out of the serving dish. I was happily dipping kale leaves in the dressing while I was taking pictures of this salad, I just couldn’t help myself.
And this is a big step for me. You see growing up I thought cherries were disguising. I also didn’t like cheese (gasp), mayo (still gross) and grape jelly (still meh). I remember my dad being so excited that cherries were in season and bringing home a big bag. He would always offer me and my sister some, and I’m pretty sure my sister ate her little heart out. I on the other hand sat there grumpy and annoyed, didn’t he know I hated cherries!
Growing up I’ve been pretty open to trying new flavors and foods. I don’t know why it took me so long to try cherries again. Maybe it’s all that artificial cherry stuff floating around out there – cough drops, cough medicine, starburst and and jolly ranchers. I still despise all of these things, fake fruit just doesn’t get me excited. I’m much more of a chocolate kind of girl anyway 🙂 So yes, I randomly bought a bag of frozen dark sweet cherries on day last year, popped on in my mouth and was instantly in heaven. Seriously, if you haven’t tried dark sweet cherries in awhile, do yourself a favor and grab a pound or a bag while they are still in season this summer or grab a bag in your frozen aisle!
Side note, if you buy dark sweet cherries, there are seeds in the middle. Which are a pain in the butt to remove with a knife, so expect it to look like a small massacre happened on your cutting board when making this salad ok? Don’t worry, it washes right off but still, it’s kind of messy! If you have a cherry pitter, you are in luck and this salad will go from 10 minutes to about 5 minutes to prepare! You could also use frozen cherries in both the dressing and the salad but I really love the texture of the fresh cherries in the salad.
Feel free to add whatever salad toppings you love. Candied pecans and goat cheese would be amazing in this dish. You could also add grilled chicken, balsamic tofu, or make extra dressing and use it as a marinade for flank steak or pork chops. I will definitely be trying that recipe for Dave this weekend! As for me, I loved this salad exactly the way it was.
Besides being potentially one of the sweetest summer fruits out there, dark sweet cherries pack a serious nutritional punch. They are full of fiber which means you will eat less of these and feel full much longer! Dark sweet cherries are also packed with antioxidants!
Dark sweet cherries have antioxidant flavonoids called anthocyanins that help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants work hard to neutralize free radicals which helps to prevent damage to the bodies cells and tissues, keeping you healthy. The anthoyanins, which also give the cherries their dark red hue, have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. That makes this salad the perfect treat after an intense workout or long run!
Dark sweet cherries are also packed with Vitamin C. The kids just went back to school and already bringing home lots of germs! Fight those coughs and colds with plenty of natural Vitamin C. Also did you know that in order for your body to create collagen. That’s right you skin will even look firmer when you get your daily allowance of Vitamin C! Not to mention your bones, skin, muscles and blood vessels!
To make the dressing, you will want to defrost about a cup of frozen dark sweet cherries and about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Once defrosted you can either blend the ingredients with an immersion blender or in your regular blender. I was lucky enough to get an immersion blender from Dave’s parents for Christmas and it’s seriously one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen next to the food processor and the spiralizer. If you are starting to put your Holiday Wish List together, I highly recommend adding an all three of those items asap!
The new item on my wish list is a cherry pitter. Again, I never thought I would need one and I’m usually not a fan of contraptions that only do one thing. But seriously, I think it would be worth the investment! To pit the cherries without a pitter, remove the stem and then go around the entire cherry with a knife, turn the cherry and go around again, dividing it into 4 sections. Pull away the flesh from the seed. Normally one side will come free pretty easily and you will get at least one side stuck to the seed, Just pull the flesh away and prepare to get a little messy! Don’t let this keep you from adding the cherries, they are CRUCIAL!
Cherry Kale Salad
- 1 bag of organic kale large stems removed
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/2 red pepper chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup white cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 15-20 dark sweet cherries cut into quarters
Cherry Balsamic Dressing
- 1 cup defrosted dark sweet cherries
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs to 1/4 cup water as needed
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- black pepper to taste
- IN a large bowl, add the kale, removing any big stems as you go.
- Chop the veggies and add them on top of the kale. Add pistachios.
- Drain and rinse the white cannenili beans. Allow to sit in water for 5 minutes while cutting up the cherries
- Cut the cherries into quarters and remove the pits. Add to salad.
- Drain the cannenili beans and add them to the salad.
Cherry Balsamic Dressing
- Defrost the dark sweet cherries in the microwave or on the stove. Add the cherries, balsamic vinegar and salt to blender or blend with immersion blender in a bowl with high sides (I use the bowl that it came with). Taste for salt and add a pinch of black pepper.Add water and stir until you reach a consistency you like. I added about 2 tbs.
- Add dressing directly to the salad and toss to coat leaves. Serve immediately or up to 24 hours later. The kale doesn't wilt like traditional lettuce so you can make this dish ahead of time no problem.
- Optional: hemp hearts, roasted red peppers, goat cheese
What about you?
- Cherries – love em hate em?
- What food did you despise as a kid?
- What is your favorite kitchen gadget?