Food & Nutrition

Three-Speed Dinners: Fresh Sweet Cherries

Here’s how to add a pop of ruby-red summer sweetness to spinach salad, a stovetop pan sauce, and to slow cooker pulled chicken with chipotle chilies.

It’s cherry season! If you’re lucky enough to live in a northern climate (and notice, we’ll only say such a thing in the summer), you can find fresh cherries at every farm stand and farmers’ market. Even if you live farther south, you can find a bounty of fresh, sweet cherries at the supermarket.

Let’s face it: sweet cherries get no respect. Sour cherries always rule the foodie pantry. But sweet cherries have a mild, slightly herbaceous flavor, a great pairing against bold spice mixes like those in this simple chicken sauté or the more complicated pulled chicken from the slow cooker.

And if you can’t find fresh cherries or you’ve come across this article in the colder months, these recipes work just as well with frozen, pitted, sweet cherries. They’ll have a softer texture and a slightly sweeter flavor, but they’ll go great with goat cheese, ginger, or even chipotles. Thaw them in a colander in the sink and you’re ready to get cooking!

Cherries store well for a few days at room temperature. Put them in a dry colander for a little air circulation. And don’t rinse them until you’re ready to use them.

If you want them to stick around a few extra days, store them in that colander in the refrigerator.

Take advantage of cherry season. It’s only here for a few weeks. 

About the 20-Minute Baby Spinach Salad with Fresh Cherries and Goat Cheese

Here’s a really quick, light, summery meal, made with bagged baby spinach, purchased nuts, and even a bit of bottled dressing. It all comes together to highlight those cherries, a sweet pop of flavor against the spinach. By the way, the real star here is the fresh thyme: that’s the flavor that brings everything into balance. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the 40-Minute Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Spiced Cherry Sauce

Although cherry sauces often include warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, we’ve swapped it up a bit to give this sauce a more savory finish, thanks to the ginger, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes. It’s a simple meal that calls out for long-grain brown rice or roasted cauliflower on the side. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.

About the All-Day (Slow Cooker) Cherry Chipotle Pulled Chicken

Forget monitoring the smoker all day! Here’s a terrific pulled chicken that won’t even heat up your kitchen this summer. Serve it on a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce with grape tomatoes, a little fat-free sour cream, some sliced radishes, jarred pickled onions, and pickled jalapeño rings. Ready to start cooking? Click here for the recipe.