Are you stuck on the slow summer wavelength, too? Let’s embrace it. Let’s sit in the shade and watch the sun go down. Sip on cold drinks. Hop in the pool. Play board games on the porch. Stretch at yoga class. Maybe even do less work (and not feel bad about it). Let’s fill up on big, fresh salads, too. Salads like this cherry stunner you see here.
This salad came to be after Whole Foods asked me to come up with a cherry recipe. Any recipe, as long as it contains cherries. Challenge accepted! As a reward, I got a $50 Whole Foods gift card for you (and a gift card for me, too). I don’t do a lot of giveaway posts, but an offer for high quality, free groceries? You deserve a chance at that. Just don’t spend it all on the dark chocolate mini malt balls in the bulk bin section… or do. They’re delicious.
The winner will also receive a copy of a beautiful new cookbook that I’ve been meaning to tell you about. It’s called The Vibrant Table: Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, and Sometimes Raw Kitchen by Anya Kassoff of Golubka Kitchen. This cookbook would be great for someone whose diet is both vegan and gluten free. A number of the recipes call for specialty ingredients, but that’s where the Whole Foods gift card comes in.
So, this salad features sweet, ruby red cherries, which I rounded out with spicy arugula and some of my favorite Middle Eastern ingredients, couscous and pistachios. I added celery for some complementary crunch and goat cheese for a creamy component. It’s light, filling and very refreshing.
I’ve been eating big bowls of this salad for lunch over the past week and plan to make another with plums for lunch today. Feel free to substitute quinoa for the couscous, if you’d like (check the notes for details). Three cheers for summer salads!
Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Allison for winning the giveaway! She’s craving heirloom tomatoes, cherries, blueberries and peaches. Thank you to all who entered.
Giveaway details: One lucky winner will receive $50 worth of gift cards to Whole Foods Market and one hardcover copy of The Vibrant Table by Anya Kassoff. Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm CST on Sunday. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email on Monday. No cash value. To enter, leave ONE comment below. Tell me: what are you craving this summer?
Cherry Couscous & Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (plus a giveaway!)
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Salad
A delightful summer salad featuring fresh cherries, arugula, pistachios and goat cheese (optional) tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Feel free to substitute pearl couscous for the fine couscous shown here, or quinoa to make the salad gluten free (cook according to package directions and proceed to step 2).
- ¾ cup whole wheat couscous
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinaigrette (this makes extra)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup or agave nectar
- Generous amount freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 big handfuls arugula
- ½ pound cherries (about 2 big handfuls), pitted, halved and quartered
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (to yield about ⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese)
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios or almonds (choose slivered or sliced almonds and you can skip the chopping step)
- To make the couscous: Bring ¾ cup water to boil in a small saucepan. Once it’s boiling, remove the pan from heat and pour in the couscous, olive oil, sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the couscous with a fork and set it aside for later.
- To make the dressing: Whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified.
- To toast the nuts: In a skillet over medium-low heat, toast the nuts, tossing frequently, until fragrant, about 3 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and use a chef’s knife to chop the nuts into small pieces.
- To compose the salad: In a large serving bowl, combine the arugula, sliced cherries, chopped celery, crumbled goat cheese and chopped nuts. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens (you might only need half of the dressing) and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Why buy organic? Conventionally grown celery, cherries and leafy greens are notoriously high in pesticide residues.
Make it vegan: Skip the goat cheese and substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey in the dressing.
Make it gluten free: Substitute cooked quinoa for the couscous.
Storage suggestions: For best results, store the dressing separately from the greens and toss just before serving.
Change it up: Feel free to substitute sliced peaches, plums or nectarines for the cherries. You can also use spinach in place of the arugula.
Prepare in advance: You can cook the grains and whisk together the dressing. Store them in the refrigerator, covered, until you’re ready to serve.
Recommended equipment: A cherry pitter makes pitting cherries a much more pleasant experience. I love this cherry pitter by Oxo.
More of my favorite cherry recipes: Check out my vegan cherry chocolate cake, rainier cherry mojito and balsamic stone fruit sundae.