This week, despite the non-stop rainfall we are experiencing here in London, I've been embracing good, seasonal produce and have found myself in a cherry rut. My body clock feels so confused at the moment. I go to bed gently suntanned and wake up in a gloomy room from which I can see nothing but soggy grass and blustery drizzle. Recently moved house, I have been exploring my new local area, and one of the best fresh fruit and vegetable stores is just a few minutes walk for me. They have almost made a landmark out of the deepest, darkest cherries, positioned confidently in the doorway to greet - and entice - customers. If they don't make their way into your basket on your way in, you'll see them again as you leave, and you won't be able to go home without them. Every time I go to stock up on juice or dinner ingredients, they end up in the same place - first the basket, then in my mouth and soon all dinner plans are demoted.
This time of year (or any, really, for that matter), I don't plan many meals. If i'm having people over then a little more thought goes into it, but otherwise, I just fill my kitchen with anything I think looks good, and with things I know and love. This way, I end up eating a lot of random meals, but am constantly pleasantly surprised at how well they turn out. So whilst I might sometimes get sidetracked at the vegetable store and forget to buy what I actually went there for, it is often the meals made with no real structure but pretty much anything that happens to be in my fridge, that end up becoming my favourites.
This time of year, I like to spend less time in the kitchen. There is little need to use the oven as an extra source of heat like I do throughout the winter, and comforting, warm meals are also less essential. For this reason, more of my meals are raw, cold or leftover. My blender, as always (somethings never change) still features heavily in my day to day routine - more than usual, in fact. And let me tell you, it's not only smoothies that come out of that thing, but also dips, soups, gazpachos and dressings. Yes, that's what happened to the cherries this week. Those that I didn't snack on during the (2 minute) walk home from the store, said goodbye to their sweet life as grocery store decoration, and went through what I can only imagine as hell, all for the sake of a delicious summer salad dressing.
Like I said, I'm not as committed to spending hours over a stove (ok, bit dramatic) during the summer, and making dips and dressings in a blender is the quickest way to add flavour and an abundance of accessible nutrients to a meal. If the sun does come out in England, a lunch, snack or dinner that takes just minutes to make is exactly what we all desire. Choose your flavours, your base ingredients, your seasoning and your herbs and blend everything together to instantly upgrade some raw vegetable crudités, a salad, a sandwich or some leftovers. Before this, there was pesto, houmous and mustard dressings. But this recipe is even simpler to make and goes with absolutely anything. Make a big batch, serve with everything and take to work, on long journeys, or as an offering to barbecues and picnics.
CHERRY, LIME AND TAHINI DRESSING
(serves around 4 people - covers a large salad)
6-8 Large Cherries
1 tablespoon Tahini
6 tablespoons Olive oil
½ lime juice
Salt or tamari
1 Teaspoon Mustard
A few drops Apple Cider Vinegar
Pinch Wasabi Paste
2 Slices Fresh Ginger / 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Pinch Fresh Mint, Basil or Coriander
Slice your cherries in half and pull apart, removing the stone. Place in a food processor or blender, and add the oil, lime juice, tahini and tamari. Blend for 1-2 minutes, until entirely smooth. Add additional ingredients from the 'optional' list, if using, and blend for a further 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl or pour directly onto your salad. Serve with meat, fish, salads, raw vegetables, over vegetable slaw or with cooked vegetables (especially good over roasted cauliflower).
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
+ Featuring, thrown together salad of rocket, watercress, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, soft boiled egg, shredded chicken, roasted sweet potato, avocado, macadamia nuts, fresh basil and fresh tomatoes (topped with savoury Qnola - available soon)