Molly’s Bread Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese

Bread Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese This recipe is from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life. Molly has written a food/memoir blog, Orangette, since about 2005. She is a gifted writer and her stories are evocative and compelling. Additionally, her recipes are delicious and they work. Orangette was the first blog I followed, before there were a million of them, and I literally cheered when they showed up in my mailbox. Cherries are here - at the Farmer’s Market, roadside stands and in stores. Bings, the sweet dark red ones, are available as well as Rainier cherries, the cream colored ones with a red blush. Both are delicious and have an interesting botanical history. The Bing is my choice for this salad because the deep rich flavor and color blends so well with the McEvoy Ranch Balsamic Vinegar in the dressing. The cherries may seem an odd departure from the traditional tomato based bread salad but the flavors work really well. Here is a photo of some cherries from last week’s Farmer’s Market: Cherries Get them while you can!! Here is the recipe with my notes in italic on my vinegar and oil choices: From: A Homemade Life Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese This isn’t so much a recipe as a formula. It’s the kind of thing you bang together on a summer day when you happen to have some ripe cherries and a hunk of chewy, day-old artisan bread. It’s so simple that you don’t really need precise quantities, although I will give you some to start with. From there, just taste and tweak to your palate. Ingredients 6 ounces rustic white bread, preferably day old Olive Oil (*McEvoy Ranch Traditional Blend is my choice here) ½ pound of cherries, preferably Bing, halved and pitted Balsamic vinegar (*McEvoy Ranch Aged Balsamic Vinegar - again, my choice) Salt Arugula Fresh goat cheese, such as Laura Chenel, coarsely crumbled Black pepper Preheat the oven to 400F. Using a sharp knife, trim the crust from the bread, and discard the crust. Tear the bread into rough bite-sized pieces. You should have about 4 loosely packed cups’ worth. Dump the bread out onto a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle it with olive oil. Toss to coat. Don’t worry if the pieces aren’t evenly oiled; that’s okay. Bake until crispy and golden in spots, shaking the pan once, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put about one-third of the cherries in a small bowl, and crush them lightly with a fork, so that they release their juices. You don’t want to mash them completely; just smash them a bit. When the bread is nicely toasted, turn it into a large bowl. While it is still hot, add the garlic, and toss well. Set aside to cool for a minute or two. Then add the cherries, both the smashed ones and the not smashed ones, and toss. Add 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and toss again. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch or two of salt and toss again. Taste, adjust the vinegar, oil and salt as needed: if you taste the bread and the cherries separately, they each should taste good alone. When you’re satisfied with the flavor, add about 2 handfuls of arugula and toss one last time. Finish with a generous amount of crumbled goat cheese and a few grinds of the pepper mill, and serve. Yield: 4 first course servings or a light meal for 2 Bread crumbs toasted, oiled and tossed with garlic: Breadcrumbs Cherries, pitted and crushed in the bowl: Cherries Cherries, tossed with croutons: Cherries and breadcrumbs Cherries, tossed with croutons, balsamic and olive oil: Cherries and breadcrumbs and oil Salad with all ingredients except goat cheese which I added on top: Salad This was a delicious light dinner for a warm Spring day. It is refreshing and beautiful. It is a tribute to seasonal ingredients and good quality balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy with a glass of McEvoy Ranch Rosebud Rose! - I did!