Cherry season is greeted with great cheer in my home, it’s my favorite stone fruits! From June through September, you can find me making all the cherry things – pie, cobbler, cordials, smoothies and more. However, instead of a sticky, sweet dessert, today I’ve cherry-picked a delicious savory salad recipe featuring Bing and Rainer Cherries and wheat berries.
You may be wondering what wheat berries are – they are not a fruit! Wheat berries are as “whole grain” as it gets, being the entire edible wheat grain before undergoing any processing. While not gluten-free (of that is a concern), wheat berries are incredibly healthy and packed with loads of nutrition including a good amount of dietary fiber, potassium and iron. Not to mention, healthy, complex carbohydrates to fuel your body and brain.
You’ll need about three cups of pitted fresh cherries, or around 1 ½ pounds whole cherries, to make this hearty salad recipe. I used a combination of Bing cherries and Rainer cherries, but any sweet cherry will do - even frozen and thawed in a pinch. A cherry pitter is a helpful tool to reduce prep time. However, it only took about 10 minutes to pull the stems and pits out of my fresh cherries without this gadget.
Packed with antioxidants and other important nutrients, cherries are considered a super food in their own right. But, this salad is “super” in ways beyond cherries and wheat berries. The addition of slivered blanched almonds and pepita seeds add crunch along with healthy fats, vitamins and even more fiber. And, we all know how beneficial spinach greens are!
Of course, the foodie in me had to finish off this dish with even more “wow.” Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette and feta cheese crumbles add to the salty, sweet experience. This salad is perfect as a light lunch or side dish to your favorite lean protein. It can be made ahead and kept chilled overnight and also layers up well in a jar for convenient portability. *