Back in the day, my girlfriends and I would cruise to Sonic, order a cherry limeade and wait for the boys to show up. Not too long ago, I pulled into a Sonic drive-in and ordered one, just because I was feeling nostalgic. Funny how things that tasted fantastic when you were a kid somehow lose their luster when you’re an adult. The taste memory I have of cherry limeade is so much sweeter than the artificially flavored sugar water I tasted that recent day.
Still in love with the idea of the combination of sweet cherries and tart lime (and because I still have boocoos of cherries left over from the last cherry post) I whipped up a cherry lime vinaigrette.
Why vinaigrette? We eat a lot of salads in this house, year round, but especially in the summer. Coming up with new, creative vinaigrettes helps keep boredom at bay. If you want a dessert recipe using fresh Bing cherries, check out Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for sweet cherry pie (although, be forewarned, the first picture kinda hurts your eyes, even if it’s striking.)
Before you sit down to gobble up a slice pie, you might want to have a salad.
This vinaigrette doesn’t use that many cherries, but pit some extra ones (if you’re going to all the trouble of pitting anyway) to serve with the salad.
Mint is a key ingredient, along with – obviously – lime and cherries.
Mint always seems to bring out the best in fruit dishes. And, as Seattle-based @hungrygrrl says, “Mint is the new cilantro.” Although, I’m still a big fan of cilantro. Mint and cilantro? Well, whew! Mind-blowing.
Avoid extra virgin olive oil in this vinaigrette because the strong flavor of EVOO interferes with the other flavors. Pick a neutral flavored oil, like canola or use grape seed oil if you have that specialty oil. Or even an olive oil, just not extra virgin.
I make this recipe in a Vita-Mix (a blender on steroids and a toy every serious cook would love to have. Expensive? Yep, worth it? Yep.) Besides dressing your salad, you can use this vinaigrette as a marinade for chicken, too.
Cherry Lime Vinaigrette
10 fresh cherries, pitted
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 large limes)
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (or black if you don’t have any white pepper)
1/2 cup canola or other neutral flavored oil
Place the first 6 ingredients (cherries through pepper) in a blender and puree until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Taste (I add a pinch more salt) and adjust seasonings.
Makes 1-1/4 cups
(NOTE: You can use 1/4 cup dried sweet or tart cherries in place of the fresh cherries. But instead of a pretty pink vinaigrette, you’ll get a mucky brown one. Tastes good, just looks drab.)