celebrations, food, family

Balsamic-Roasted Cherries

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday weekend as much as we did!  We celebrated in our favorite ways, with family time and fresh food.  There were boats, swimming, fishing, collaborative meals, a parade, a family picnic in the park, and fireworks over the lake.

What I really want to talk about today, though, is this easy, versatile dish I have already made three times this season.

I deeply love fresh bing cherries and, lucky for me, they are in season right now.  Truth be told, I usually don't want to do a thing to them, as they're perfect untouched, eaten straight from the strainer.  But when I wanted to elevate them just a little for a dinner party dessert, I came up with this simple roasting method that allows their fresh flavor to still shine through.

The cherries are first pitted, which I do simply by gently smushing them under the flat side of a chef's knife before popping the pit out with my fingers.  Then they're tossed with a glug of balsamic vinegar, whose winey complexity is a lovely match for the tangy, sweet cherries; a sprinkle of cornstarch to thicken the juices a bit; and a modest drizzle of maple syrup to sweeten the deal.  At last they're roasted until soft and jammy, the flavors concentrated and wonderfully complex.

The great thing about these cherries is that they aren't too sweet, making them not only the perfect topping for a balanced dessert, but also a wonderful accompaniment to any number of savory dishes. 

Here I served them over delightfully simple vanilla custard (my go-to recipe is here) and topped the whole thing with a little almond granola for crunchy contrast.  They would be equally delicious stirred into vanilla ice cream.  Or, for a savory spin, try tumbling them over a log of soft goat cheese or herb and garlic boursin and setting it out with grainy crackers.  Summer salads of bitter arugula and bright cucumbers are begging for these cherries, as are grilled steaks and woodsy mushrooms.  The possibilities are really endless.  Give them a try while the cherries are still seasonal and plentiful!

To see more great ideas for fresh, seasonal dishes you can bring to celebratory, collaborative meals, check out this post from Natalie Creates.

Balsamic-Roasted Cherries

serves 6

  • 2 cups fresh bing cherries, pitted, or 2 cups frozen sweet cherries, unthawed
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (no need to use the expensive stuff here)
  • 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In an oven-safe dish that will allow your cherries to spread out in a single layer, toss all ingredients together until combined.  Roast for 25 minutes, stirring at the halfway mark, until the cherries are shriveled and the juices are thick.  Cool completely and use with abandon.