If you ask me, cherries are an underutilized fruit. True, they have a short season, but so do lots of other fruits and vegetables that get a lot more love. (Rhubarb…peas..fiddlehead ferns. Really, fiddleheads?) Ripe summer cherries are bright red, plump and juicy, sweet and just a little bit tart. Like strawberries, figs and plums, they can go both the sweet and savory route, and a combination of the two is especially good.
These Balsamic Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini are a really easy summer appetizer, and a surprising one, too, when people are expecting the classic tomato-basil-balsamic combo. (They’re also BEAUTIFUL, which doesn’t count for nothing.) Creamy goat cheese is the perfect base for the juicy cherries, and basil adds a nice fresh herbal note. This is the time to use a high-quality balsamic vinegar- the sweeter and more syrupy, the better. A really acidic or sour vinegar will overpower the the cherries and basil.
The recipe itself couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is heat the cherries with a little bit of honey, the balsamic vinegar and basil, toast some bread, and assemble the crostini. Total time, 20 minutes. While a cherry pitter is not absolutely necessary here, it will make your life a lot easier, and your fingers a lot less red. I’ll leave that up to you.
Balsamic Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini
- 1 lb fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
- one French baguette, cut into 1/2 inch diagonal slices
- 1 tbs honey
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbs fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons, divided
- 8 oz plain, creamy goat cheese
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, honey, vinegar, 2 tbs basil and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are just starting to release their juice. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, arrange bread slices on a sheet pan. Brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
- To assemble the crostini, spread a layer of goat cheese onto each slice, then top with a spoonful of cherries. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbs of basil over the crostini and serve immediately.
- Note: While you can make the cherry mixture in advance, the longer it sits, the more the cherries lose their bright red color. I would recommend making them right before serving.