I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how fortunate I am living this sweet, simple, happy life, here in Kingston. I love this place. The shabby-chic-ness of it. The history. The old stone buildings. The massive waterways. The proximity to other places – Montreal, Ottawa, the Adirondacks – and yes, Toronto. And better yet, how fast I can leave everything behind and be in the middle of nowhere.
I like how livable it is. How I can bicycle to my branch library which just happens to be housed in one of those magnificent old limestone buildings. And then, on the way home, how I can drop into my local grocery store, park my bike in the racks, and buy a kale plant in the pop-up garden centre. I ride home along paths hemmed with wildflowers, passing the community gardens as I go.
I’ve fallen in love with so many places – bits of Yorkshire; most of France; New Zealand; Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington; Ashburton,Tasmania, and the Sunshine Coast of Queensland; Crescent Beach and Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. And more. But Kingston is where I landed and for now at least, it’s perfect.
I’ll have to read this again come winter, when I might be slightly less deliriously happy. But for now – I am that happy and thankful. And in my kitchen, I’m serving up summer. This recipe is adapted from one in Molly Wizenberg’s beautiful book, A Homemade Life. I like the combination of slightly bitter arugula with the sweet cherries. I cut the arugula straight from my garden.
This salad is substantial enough to serve solo for lunch or dinner. And if you feel like tampering with it – there are endless variations – add nuts, switch out the cherries with nectarines or grapes. Use feta instead of chèvre or blue cheese. Add chopped cooked bacon… etc.
A summer salad of cherries, arugula, and chèvre
- half a baguette – day old is perfect
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- flaked sea salt to taste
- a cup or two of ripe Bing or other dark cherries, at room temperature, washed and halved
- a ripe avocado
- 4-6 cups of arugula, washed and dried
- 1/4 each cup crumbled chevre and blue cheese (or all chèvre or feta..)
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rip, do not cut, the 1/2 baguette into bite-sized chunks. Toss the bread in olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned and toss the bread so that the browned sides are up. Turn the oven off and let the bread sit in the oven for another 5-6 minutes until browned and crisped.
- While the bread is crisping up, cut and pit the cherries and peel and slice the avocado. In a small bowl take about half the cherries and crush gently with a fork to release the juices.
- Place the cubed bread (warm is fine) in a large bowl and toss with the arugula. Add the cherries and avocado.
- Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup and pour over salad. Toss gently. Top with cheese and serve.