Cherry Mint Salsa

On the way home from a trip to the other side of the Cascade Mountains we came upon a fruit stand. My husband will tell you that if we do not stop at an open fruit stand we will have to turn the car around and go back. This time we easily made the turn into the stand with a sign reading “Fresh Cherries”. The cherry orchard surrounded the fruit stand. I was surprised to find cherries at this time as we have had a wet, cold spring. The owner told us that these cherries were hand-picked as all the cherries on the trees were not fully ripe. They had picked only the ripe cherries. I scooped up several pounds of ripe sweet red cherries. Now my mind raced to decide how to prepare the ones that did not make it to our mouths immediately. I decided that it was time to try a cherry salsa with chilies and red onions.

I began pitting the cherries with my hand-held cherry pitter, disposable gloves on to prevent my hands from turning red from the cherries and burning from the chilies. I added olive oil and lime juice but it need more. So in went the balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt. Still it need more. I began to drizzle local honey which finally made the whole salsa pop! Feel free to add more or less honey to your liking.

Cherry Mint Salsa

6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup packed mint leaves

1 pound sweet red cherries, pitted, chopped (3 cups pitted and chopped)

¼ cup red onions, minced

1 tablespoon serrano pepper, minced (1 large pepper)

1 tablespoon hot red pepper, minced (1 medium pepper)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

1.     Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the mint leaves and simmer thirty seconds. Drain and immediately cool under cold running water. Squeeze dry and mince.

2.     Toss all the ingredients together. Use immediately or let macerate overnight.

ONWARD:

Since this salsa is an accompaniment or appareil, here are two recipes that would be enhanced by a scoop of this salsa. Of course organic corn chips also could be served with this salsa.

The first recipe is a Cherry Glazed Pork Tenderloin for meat lovers. The second is a way to go plant-based with Oven Roasted Polenta Rounds.

Cherry Glazed Pork Tenderloin

6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup granulated cane sugar

1 pint filtered water

1 tenderloin, washed, remove sinew (tough fibrous tissue)

¼ cup cherry jelly

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon garlic, mashed

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon fresh mint, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

1.     Preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Line a baking pan with foil. Place a rack on top of the foil.

2.     Mix the salt, sugar and water together until dissolved. Add the trimmed pork tenderloin. Brine at room temperature for forty five minutes. Remove from the brine and pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels.

1.     Melt the jelly, vinegar, garlic, oil, mint and salt together. Remove from heat and cool for about ten minutes until slightly thick but not runny.

2.     Brush all sides of the pork with the glaze. Place on the rack in the foil lined baking pan. Put into the oven.

3.     Roast the tenderloin for nine minutes, turn over and roast for another eight minutes or until the internal temperature is 145⁰-150⁰F. Turn off the oven and leave the pork in the oven for another five minutes or until the internal temperature is 160⁰F.

4.     Place the tenderloin on a cutting board and tent with foil for five minutes. Reserve the pan juices to drizzle over the pork later. Slice the pork into one-fourth inch slices. Serve hot and with Cherry Salsa.

Cherry Mint Salsa on Baked Polenta Rounds

6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

18 ounces organic precooked polenta*

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1.     Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silpat mat.

2.     Slice the polenta into eighteen rounds.

3.     Brush each round with olive oil on both sides. Place on the lined sheet pan.

4.     Place in the oven and bake for about twenty minutes or until heated through and slightly browned.

5.     Remove from the oven and top with Cherry Mint Salsa. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*It is important to buy only organic polenta to ensure that it is not from GMO grown corn. I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s.

*It is important to buy only organic polenta to ensure that it is not from GMO grown corn. I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s.

Linda Hierholzer