Yesterday I posted on Instagram about my love of our local farmers market. It’s one of my favorite things to create new recipes and learn how to cook with local produce that’s in season. Last week’s dinners included a farfalle pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil from my lone basil plant, roasted squash and onions, and fresh bell peppers in peanut chicken bowls. Cherries don’t grow as well in Tennessee, but since they’re in season, I can get them fresh and organic from Sprouts and they still have tons of flavor.
This recipe is so light and tart, and it’s perfect for these incredibly hot and humid summer evenings. The basil adds a little spice to the cherries’ tartness, and I think it pairs well with a piece of very dark chocolate.
For this recipe, I used cherries from the grocery store, and basil from my potted plant out front. Since we moved in March, we decided that this year would be spent focusing on the house, and next year we’ll do a little more gardening. In the meantime, I’ll be supporting our local farmers that much more!
Start by preheating your oven to 400º F. washing and draining your cherries in a large collander. I wasn’t too worried about getting them dry like I would be if I were using these to bake, but do try to get them pretty dry.
Next, pit the cherries and discard the pits and stems. This is a long process if you don’t have a good pitter, so I’d suggest ordering this one to make your life easier. If you don’t have one, a sharp knife and your fingers work as well. The juice will stain your hands, so keep that in mind. I answered the door to the poor UPS delivery guy with cherry juice dripping off my hand and holding back my large barking dog, so I’m sure that was slightly terrifying for him.
Put all the cherries in an 8×8 ceramic or glass baking dish, and add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix together and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Make sure you don’t burn the cherries–you just want to get them to release their juices and start to break down.
While the cherries are in the oven, make your simple syrup. mix the water with the sugar on the stove and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add fresh basil leaves. Let this cool while cherries are in the oven.
Once cherries are done cooking, add them to a blender along with your simple syrup and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.
For this next part, you can cool the mixture in the fridge and then churn in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes for a creamier texture, but for more of a snowcone/granita vibe, just pour the mixture in a loaf pan and place in the freezer overnight.
To serve, scoop into bowls and add a fresh basil garnish. Enjoy!
- 1 lb cherries, pitted
- 3/4 c. and 2 T sugar, separated
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 c. water
- 4 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
- Place pitted cherries in baking dish with 2 T sugar and pinch of salt. Bake at 400º F for 10-15 minutes, or until fruit releases juices and starts to break down.
- While cherries are in the oven, combine 3/4 c. sugar and 3/4 c. water in small saucepan and bring to a boil to create a simple syrup. Remove from heat and add 4 large basil leaves. Let cool.
- Once all ingredients have cooled, combine simple syrup, cherries, and lemon juice, along with another pinch of salt (optional) in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour mixture into freezer-safe loaf pan and place in freezer for 8 hours, or overnight.
- To serve, allow frozen mixture to sit out for a few minutes, then serve. For fun, try adding fresh basil and dark chocolate as a garnish.