Books are piling up on the shelf and beside my bed again this summer. It’s nice–I’ve missed them. Many are related to food, others are thriftstore finds, and two are quick picks meant to fill the hours on my recent cross-country flight to visit my family for the Fourth.
My favorites so far–and if you’ve read them, you’ll understand–are Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and the just-published Delancey, which chronicles the birth of their Seattle pizza restaurant. Recipes mix with stories of family, love, challenges and of course, food. So many pages are now dogeared, but the first recipe I tried was a simple one, a mealtime salad, one that reaffirms that salad shouldn’t be a swear word. “It’s handsome, delicious, and a little messy, like most good things in this life.”
This bread salad with cherries, arugula and goat cheese is perfect for July, when cherries are beautiful, abundant, and for today, a deal. A few weeks ago, at the Little Italy Mercado, I splurged on three containers of colorful cherries–some dark and sweet, others white and tart. Tom and I enjoyed them for days: in cocktails, a cherry-almond galette, and a not-so-great clafoutis. And while he worked, I made this salad for myself two days in a row.
Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese
From Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life
Note: Wizenberg writes, “This isn’t so much a recipe as a formula.” Like most salads, use the amounts you have on hand or what you want. She gives ideas, but advises you to “just taste and tweak to your own palate.”
6 ounces rustic white bread, preferably day-old
1/2 pound cherries, preferably Bing, halved and pitted
1/8 teaspoon pressed or crushed garlic
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the crust from the bread, if desired, and then tear bread into rough bite-sized pieces, about 4 cups worth. Spread on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat. 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 lightly with a fork, so that they release juices. You don’t want to mash them completely; just smash them a bit.
When the bread is toasted, turn it into a large bowl, add garlic, and toss well. Set aside to cool for a minute. Add the cherries, both the smashed and not-smashed ones, and toss. Add 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and toss again. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and toss again. Taste, adjust flavors. If you taste the bread and cherries separately, they each should taste good alone. Add 2 handfuls of arugula and toss one last time. Finish with a generous amount of goat cheese and a few grinds of pepper.
Smit Farms at the Little Italy Mercado:
And for dessert: