I love eating sweet cherries and am sad that they only show up in the stores in the heart of summer. When in season, I buy a big bag every week and take some for lunch everyday. I do this until I can't stand to look at another cherry.
However, last week I decided it was time to actually make a dish that featured cherries. I considered making a pie but that felt too cliché. So I made a hearty salad that is great for lunch or dinner, or both.
Kale and Chicken Brown Rice Salad with Cherries
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tbp sugar
1 clove garlic
A pinch of salt and black pepper, less than 1/2 a teaspoon
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 oz can artichoke hearts
2 cups kale
½ cup slivered almonds
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
Start by cooking up the brown rice, follow the directions on the package. 1/2 cup of uncooked rice yielded roughly 1 and 1/4 cups of cooked rice. While the rice is cooking, pound and cook the chicken breasts. Saveur did not provide an advice for seasoning the chicken so I sprinkled on some Cookies Seasoning before cooking the breasts in butter and olive oil (medium-high heat). For those not from Iowa, Cookies seasoning is a mix of salt, black pepper, and chili powder.
The breasts should take between 10 to 15 minutes to cook. Once cooked, set the chicken aside to cool and start preparing the cherries. I used this salad as an excuse to buy a cherry pitter. You can use a paring knife to cut and pit the cherries if you don't want to buy another kitchen tool. Be warned, pitter or not, your hands will get covered in cherry juice.
Next, wash and dry the kale. Remove the stems and cut the remaining leaves into thin strips. Drain and rinse the canned artichokes and cut them into quarters. When the chicken has cooled, cut it into bite sized pieces.
To make the dressing, place the basil, garlic, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice into a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until fully combined and season with salt and pepper.
Assemble the salad in a large bowl. Toss the rice, chicken, and kale in the dressing. Gently stir in the cherries, artichokes, and almonds. Plate and enjoy, this salad needs no accompaniments, it is perfect on its own.