For the month of July, the Produce of the Month is the long-time favorite fruit of the summer: The cherry. The cherry comes in a variety of shades of red as well as a wide range of flavor- from tart to sweet. According to Pennsylvania Preferred , cherries are in the peak of their season right now, in July!
There are many health benefits associated with the consumption of cherries. According to the USDA 1 cup of sweet cherries have only 87 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber. They are also a good source of the antioxidant, vitamin C. Sweet dark red cherries get their color from the high level of anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanin is what gives fruits and vegetables their dark red/purple/bluish coloring. Sour red cherries also are rich in antioxidant and vitamin C content, but they're also an very good source of vitamin A, which plays an important role in immune function and vision.
A lot of research has been done on sour cherries and the possible anti-inflammatory effects they may contain. One study showed that consumption of tart cherry juice showed a decrease in inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. Other studies show a possible decrease in cardiovascular disease risk associated with intake of foods rich in anthocyanin.
You can store cherries in the fridge for 2-3 days if they are sour and up to 10 days if they are sweet cherries. When shopping for cherries, make sure they have their stems attached and are firm to touch. They are perfect on their own as a snack, on top of yogurt, salads, oatmeal and also baked in special treats such as pies and tarts (with moderation of course!)
For the recipe this month that highlights the Produce of the Month, we wanted to think outside the box. The recipe this month is a Cherry Farro Salad. This salad is packed with layers of flavor- it contains sweetness from the cherries, nuttiness from the pine nuts and sunflower seeds and tangy-bitter flavor from the orange vinegar and feta cheese. It is sure to be a surprising favorite at the next summer BBQ.
3/4 cup wild rice
3/4 cup farro
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup orange vinegar (found at Wegmans, who has a wide range of infused vinegars)
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
3/4 cup of feta cheese
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons of minced parsley
In a medium sauce pan, cook the wild rice and farro over low/medium heat for about 30 minutes.
While the grains are cooking, cut the cherries into quarters while removing the pits. Mix the cherries with the feta cheese, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and parsley.
In a separate bowl, mix the oil and vinegar together.
When the grains are done cooking, let cool either in the fridge or in an ice bath. When cooled, mix with the other ingredients.
Enjoy over a bed of spinach or spring mix lettuce mix & add your favorite protein (chicken, salmon, shrimp etc.) to make a complete meal!