Sizzle Simmer Sauté–Summertime dishes with a cherry on top

Jennifer Ruple

Everything is better with a cherry on top… or in the middle… or on the bottom… A single cherry is beautiful on its own when used as a garnish, but when a bunch of them get together, they create a symphony of flavor! I used fresh cherries mixed with balsamic vinegar to make a rustic-style Cherry Galette and then combined them with whole grain oats for scrumptious Cherry Pie Crumble Bars. Lastly, a big jar of cherry salsa was the key to creating the savory-spicy sauce to top Cherry Chicken Enchiladas. I hope you take full advantage of cherry season and try these recipes or create some of your own.
Writer’s note: I’ve never been much of a kitchen gadgetry gal. To me, more tools mean more to wash and store, when oftentimes a good set of knives will do the trick. With that said, after pitting the first five cups of cherries with a paring knife, I started thinking about a better way. I broke down and purchased a handheld cherry pitter which I found saved quite a bit of time. Now if I can just figure out how to use it without squirting cherry juice all over my kitchen

Cherry Balsamic Galette
Galette is the French term for a round, freeform pastry often made with a savory filling. An alternative to the traditional cherry pie, a galette’s crust is folded up and over the outer rim of this dessert. I love the sweet-savory effect the addition of the balsamic vinegar brings to it.

1 refrigerated pie crust, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds tart cherries, pitted and
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 375 F. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, unroll pie crust. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cherries and stir to combine. 
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and vanilla. Pour over cherry mixture and combine.
Add cherry mixture to the center of the pie crust, leaving a two-inch border around the edge. 
Fold edge up and over the filling, creating pleats all around. 
Whisk egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush onto crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Cherry Pie Crumble Bars
Cherry Pie Crumble Bars are the perfect summertime dessert. What’s not to love about a crumbly, buttery crust, layered with sweet cherry filling, and topped with more crumbles? Serve these bars by themselves or a la mode (a big scoop of vanilla ice cream).

For the Cherries
5 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the Crumble
1 package yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups whole grain quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 375 F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
Pit and halve cherries. In a large bowl, combine cherries and lemon juice.
In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, extracts and cornstarch. Pour mixture over cherry mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and oats. Add melted butter and stir until crumbly.
Press down 2/3 of the crumbs on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Spoon cherry mixture evenly over crust.
Sprinkle remaining crumbs over cherry layer and press them down gently.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Refrigerate for firmer bars.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Cherry Chicken Enchiladas
Recently, I was gifted a jar of Cherry Republic Original Cherry Salsa from a fellow foodie. I then remembered this recipe from a few years back that appeared in the company’s catalog. If you aren’t familiar with Cherry Republic products, the company hails from northern Michigan and has retail shops around the state. Their closest shop is in Ann Arbor; however, you can pick up some of their salsa and a few other products at Beautiful Blooms by Jen on Main Street.
Serves 4-6

16 ounces sour cream
7-ounce can diced green chiles
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounce brick of cream cheese
2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
Eight 8-inch flour tortillas
24 ounces Cherry Republic Original
Cherry Salsa or other cherry salsa (I used medium heat)

Heat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine sour cream, chiles, onion, cilantro and cumin.
Mix in chicken and 1 cup shredded cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon approximately 1/2 cup of filling into the center of each tortilla. Top each with a slice of cream cheese. Roll tortillas and place in baking dish.
Pour cherry salsa over enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake about 45 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake until cheese melts.
(Recipe adapted from

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