It has been a cool summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and my garden has not been doing well. I kept things simple this year and have six tomato plants, spinach and kale, beans, peas, squash, a couple of cucumbers, and herbs. My flowers are flourishing but sadly I said goodbye to the peonies this weekend. They weeped nearly all their petals on the lawn and at the same time my white rose erupted into bloom. It is punctual since last year it opened its petals around Independence Day as well.
One thing that I make sure that I take advantage of in the summer is the offering of fruit and berries available at the grocers. Last week I purchased cherries, nectarines, plums, watermelon, and strawberries.
Since I love fruit on salads I wanted to create a combination that involved cherries. I have been experimenting with making my own BBQ sauce and decided that I would allow a sweet and tangy sauce inspire my salad dressing.
The resulting Cherry BBQ Salad Dressing was pleasing and I knew that it had to be shared. To make it a dressing I added extra vinegar. If you want to use it as a BBQ sauce you can reduce the amount of vinegar in the recipe and it will be sweeter and thicker. It can be tweaked to your personal taste. My recipe is rather mild tasting and you could add more garlic, liquid smoke, and your favorite spices. I think it would also work well as a marinade.
- 1 1/2 cup of fresh, pitted cherries (frozen would work)
- 3/4 – 1 cup of vinegar (I used raw apple cider vinegar. I like tart dressing but if you do not, I suggest a little at a time. You can always use water to thin the dressing if it is too thick. Use a Tablespoon or so of vinegar if you want to use it as a sauce, unless you like your BBQ extra tangy)
- 8 ounces of tomato sauce
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon of onion
- 1 Tablespoon of Molasses (Add more if you like your dressing sweeter. You could also use brown sugar or your favorite sweetener but I like the flavor of molasses)
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you follow a plant-based diet you can find many recipes on-line. Here is the one that I used.)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Sprig of fresh oregano (about three inches long. Could use a teaspoon of dried)
- Tablespoon of fresh chives (I have chives in my garden so in the summer I use them in most dishes)
- 1/8-1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I omit the oil and add it to each salad instead for portion control)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Blend dressing well and make final tweaks in ingredients based on your personal taste. This recipe made 2 and 1/4 cups of dressing. I will be using it this week as a marinade for grilling. Because the vinegar acts as a preservative, homemade dressing will last over a month in the refrigerator. I store my dressing in a Mason jar with a metal lid.
I used the following ingredients to make two jar salads and two plated salads, so I divided each ingredient into four. If you are new to Mason jar salads you may want to read this post.
- Cherry BBQ Dressing (I use 3-4 Tablespoons per salad. Since I make my own dressing and add the oil separately, I am able to use more dressing)
- Extra virgin olive oil (2 teaspoons per salad)
- 2 large sweet potatoes cubed and divided into four. (I scrubbed well, left the peeling on, wrapped in tinfoil, and baked. One of the heating elements is out in my oven so I check often until the potato is soft. If your oven is working correctly, I would suggest 30-45 minutes at 350-400 degrees. I know – a food blogger with a broken oven? 😉 A new one is on our long list of items that we have to purchase but our budget does not allow us to do so now…one of these days.)
- 3 sliced avocado
- 2 sliced nectarines
- 4 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil ( I topped the nectarine with the basil since I enjoy the flavor combination)
- 4 small onions, caramelized (cut the onions into rings and cook on low in the oil of your choice until brown and soft. I used coconut oil)
- 40 cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 small package (8 ounces) of tempeh. Dip the tempeh in the Cherry BBQ Dressing and sear in a hot pan with oil for a couple of minutes. (I do try to limit my soy intake but this tempeh is fantastic. My husband does eat meat so the next time I will use meat for him since he is not a huge fan of tempeh and I do not like to give him soy. As an alternate protein source for myself I may add raw nuts or white beans)
- One bag of spinach (or greens of your choice)
*Note – you can serve the tempeh and the onions warm or cold.
Printable Recipe: CHERRY BBQ Salad
Here are other recipes that incorporate cherries: Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette
Summer is the perfect time to experiment with fresh produce and find out what suits your taste buds. I promise to keep posting fresh and tantalizing recipes and if you try one, let me know what you think. I wish you a summer filled with healthy choices and time to appreciate the outdoors. Thank you for joining me on the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables.