July means cherry season, and the Okanagan crop this year is delicious. I wanted to find a recipe this week that would utilize fresh cherries in an interesting way, and I found what I was looking for on MarthaStewart.com – Poached Cherries served with ricotta cheese.
I read through the recipe and thought it sounded amazing and simple – the hardest part was pitting the cherries (if you have a cherry pitter then this task would go much more quickly, but alas, I did not!). Wine is the main ingredient in this dish (aside from the cherries, of course) and after consulting with our “Wine Guy”, Tim, at the Cordata Co-op I settled on Bookwalter Winery’s Notebook Red Blend ($9.95 and new to the Co-op – a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah). This wine blended very well with the basil, vanilla, and lemon zest that also went into the poaching liquid, and is made 30 minutes east of Seattle, WA in Woodinville from Columbia Valley grapes.
The recipe was a hit with customers – the cherries ended up tasting almost like they were soaked in brandy, but without the overpowering taste (or burn) of alcohol. The spice was subtle and the ricotta complimented the cherries very nicely – I served them with Organic Valley whole milk ricotta, as well as Tofutti Better Than Ricotta (a dairy-free version) for a vegan option. I would also suggest serving them over vanilla ice cream on a warm summer night.
Poached Cherries with Ricotta
recipe adapted from marthastewart.com
- 2 1/4 # cherries, pitted, room temperature
- 2 c dry red wine
- 2/3 c sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 2 three-inch strips of lemon zest
- 1 1/2 c fresh ricotta cheese
- Place cherries in a large, shallow, heat-proof bowl and set aside.
- Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out (and reserve them).
- In a medium saucepan, combine wine, sugar, vanilla bean (and scraped seeds), basil, and lemon zest.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. (hint—I pitted my cherries as the poaching liquid was coming up to temperature—I just kept it at medium-low instead of medium-high heat).
- Pour the hot liquid over the cherries. Set aside until the mixture is room temperature and cherries are slightly soft, about one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Drain cherries into a colander, reserving liquid. Discard the basil, vanilla bean, and lemon zest.
- Return cherries to the bowl.
- Place reserved poaching liquid back into the medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil until the liquid has reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
- Pour hot liquid over cherries. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
- Serve in shallow bowls, topped with a spoonful of ricotta.
You can choose to use something other than cane sugar, but be aware that it might change the flavor profile of the dish if it’s a strong flavored sugar, like honey.