Growing up, I had little experience with real cherries. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t buy us fresh fruit; they just stuck to the more commonplace (and inexpensive) varieties like apples, bananas, and oranges, and cherries were those things on the tree George Washington chopped down before he got his wooden teeth. What I thought of as cherries were the bright red, concave semi-orbs of the Maraschino species that topped ice cream sundaes or came in the fruit cocktail can, and were prized possessions that had to be divided equally between my brother and I to avoid potential suppertime squabbles. “Cherries” seemed special because they were artificially bright and perfectly satisfied the syrupy sweet desires of childhood taste buds—plus, my brother wanted them…so naturally I had to want them too, just to be contrary—but they weren’t real cherries.
Flash forward to just last year (I guess I’m a late bloomer), when I was working as what I now like to refer to as a “privately contracted teacher” or “mini-Maria Von Trapp,” but what you might call a glorified nanny. The small child with whom I was entrusted most of the time loved cherries, and it was through this employment that I had my first taste of the good stuff. (I was also introduced to lychees, Asian pears, and bacon-wrapped scallops. Life was good for me…at least as far as food was concerned.)
I fell so deeply in love with fresh cherries that I even went so far as to buy a combination cherry/olive pitter, which I proceeded to use at every possible opportunity (i.e. when cherries were on sale).
Imagine my excitement when I saw that cherries were a weekly special this week!
Clearly that meant only one thing…it was time to make my top-rated, most-requested-by-my-friends (aside from my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins) recipe, which utilized not only cherries, but peaches* (!) as well: Cherry Peach Salsa!
*Unlike with cherries, I had grown up on peaches, although they were also relegated to special status, as we really only ate them chopped up on cereal or eaten juicy and fresh (gotta love that sticky chin dribble) while on visits to my grandparents in Georgia.
I have mentioned before, at length, my love for the ease and versatility of making fruit salsas, and this might just be the very best. Not only is it super easy…the sweet/sour/spicy combination of the juicy peaches, tart cherries, and hot jalapeno makes for a just a-wee-bit-more-than-a-smidgeon of a flavor explosion.
Bonus: It works just as well with even marginally good quality frozen cherries and peaches, which means you can make it all year round (or if cherries and peaches are too expensive and/or not available in your market).
Pit and dice your cherries. [In the pictures, I am using 1 cup whole cherries, which reduced to 1/2 cup.]
—Yes. Yes, I did.
—Nope. Not doing it. This sounds like too much work. I’m done. Forget this recipe.
—Seriously, it’s not that hard…and it’s sort of cathartic. Slicing them first makes it easier….
BUT, if you’re like me, and a bit of an impatient/lazy chef, you can give up half way through and either leave the skin on, or just hack it off with your knife.
[If you are lucky enough to have a beautiful cutting/serving board (or have a roommate with one), there is no need to waste a bowl at this point. However, now is when you would transfer everything into a separate bowl for mixing, and, ultimately, serving.]
Mix ‘em up!
I like to serve this with pita chips, but obviously tortilla chips work just fine too. (Lime ones would be especially delicious, despite the fact that they have MSG all over them….which, well, makes them delicious.)
Now, class, your next assignment is figuring out a good explanation for the expression “Life is just a bowl of cherries.” Forrest Gump’s chocolate interpretation of life always made so much more sense.
[Note on my recipes: When I make a recipe, I often half it, since I am a single lady--put your hands up!--but the recipe below would be for a doubled amount of what is in the photographs.]
(Makes 3 Cups)
1 cup pitted and diced cherries [approximately 3 cups whole cherries]
1 cup chopped peaches [4 small]
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1-2 small jalapenos, seeded and diced (vary to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime (3-4 Tbsp.)
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Stir well.