I pulled up at Ocean Beach for my daily run and, what ho? There’s a cherry stand at the beach! Driving Oregon plates, the California seller welcomed me into her “office” and offered me samples of her shiny, dark red wares from Washington. I begged her to be there in an hour at which time I would definitely be a happy customer.

While the California cherry season burns hot and will end fairly soon for us, the cooler climes of the Pacific Northwest mean a longer, sweeter cherrilicious season. Spending my youthful summers in Traverse City, I was spoiled by turnovers, pies, and ice creams as only tart Michigan cherries can produce. However, I can’t easily get those cherries any more and I have come to love the cherry bounty found on the West Coast.

Normally, the only prep I bestow on this provocative fruit is a simple bath and quick rubdown before consuming the naked fruit. This year, I was moved to help along the summer produce by punching up their flavors.

Cherry Poppin’ Salad
Serves 1

1/2 cup cherries, pitted and quartered
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
1 cup salad greens
1 tablespoon toasted hazelnuts
Lemon juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest

1. Combine the cherries, cheese, salad greens, and hazelnuts together. Toss lightly.

2. Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper together. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss lightly. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top of the salad and serve.

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