a summer salad of arugula, cherries, and chèvre

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the cubed bread (warm is fine) in a large bowl and toss with the arugula. Add the cherries and avocado.
  4. Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup and pour over salad. Toss gently. Top with cheese and serve.


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