Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cherries: the salad

When the days and evenings are so hot like they’ve been lately, I can’t even contemplate stepping foot inside my kitchen for more than a few minutes. Summery salads come to my rescue.

Most of the times it’s a big Horiatiki (Greek) salad with juicy tomatoes and cooling cucumbers, other times and especially when I’ve made barley rusks, it’s dakos, the traditional Greek salad of rusks, grated tomatoes and feta, or a tuna salad, one of my favorites.

Salads incorporating fruits are the best during this season, combining sweetness with tartness, saltiness, brininess, freshness, crispness and overall deliciousness.

This time it was a simple salad of young and tender swiss-chard leaves, fresh mint leaves with sweet dark cherries, Kalamata olives, feta, and a garlic vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.

Nothing extravagant or complicated, without any weird or exotic ingredients, a straightforward, summery, seasonal salad that was beautiful in every sense. Crisp leaves, sweet cherries, zingy vinaigrette with a garlic hit, creamy tangy feta, cooling mint. Refreshing, satisfying, and with a couple slices of rye bread and a glass of sharp Sauvignon Blanc, it made a pretty nice supper for one.

By the way, earlier today I finally couldn’t resist the cherry bounty lurking in my fridge. I turned on my oven and a sweet thing happened. I will share as soon as I can, because cherry season is so unfairly short, I don’t want to you to miss the opportunity to make it.

Young swiss-chard and mint salad with cherries, olives and feta

Use any kind of young green leaves you can get your hands on. Also purslane, watercress or baby spinach would work great instead. If you can’t find young chard leaves, use tender chard leaves that can be eaten raw, stalks and central veins removed.

Substitute feta with a different goat’s cheese or even mozzarella if you’d like.

If whole mint leaves is not your thing, chop them up so their flavor isn’t too pronounced in any one bite.

Some chopped walnuts or almonds would work beautifully in the salad.

Yield: 4 servings

100-120 g young swiss-chard leaves
10 large, fresh mint leaves, whole, and some small ones for garnishing
16 sweet dark cherries, pitted and halved
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
100 g feta

for the garlic vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: cherry and olive pitter (optional)


for the garlic vinaigrette
In a small bowl, add the mashed garlic clove, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Mix well using a fork or a small whisk. Check the seasoning and add more if needed.

for the salad
In a large bowl, add the swiss-chard and mint leaves, the cherries and olives. Mix with your hands. Add 1/3 of the vinaigrette and toss well using your hands to evenly coat the ingredients with it. Give it a taste and add more vinaigrette if needed.

Transfer salad to a platter and crumble the feta on top. Garnish with some small mint leaves and have a small bowl with the vinaigrette at hand in case you want to add some more. Eat immediately and enjoy!

This salad would be great to serve alongside grilled steak or chicken.

You can keep the vinaigrette in a small bowl, covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days to use in other green salads. Whisk well before using.


  1. I love the whole mint leaves in this salad as well as the combination of olives and cherries. I don't think of putting the latter combination together very often but I can see how the fruity notes from the cherries balance the briny olives. Lovely salad!

  2. I love the idea of cherries with feta. We had slices of watermelon with feta just the other, remembering wonderful holidays spent in Greece. Now you have piqued my curiosity mentioning barley rusks? I hope you post more about the dish you mentioned.