home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Set the table with red, white and blue.

Light the sparklers. Unfurl the flag.

It's the Fourth of July! Time to celebrate with a menu that's festive and fabulous. This year, along with your favorite barbecued ribs or grilled hamburgers, try a savory appetizer, a sassy salsa, a summery salad and a refreshing drink--all with a unique twist. These four new recipes feature the sweetness of antioxidant-rich cherries and the crunch of heart-healthy walnuts. Sweet cherries and omega-3-packed walnuts have always been delicious eaten out of hand, but just watch how they set off taste bud fireworks at your table!

It's easy to create spiced walnut snacks and appetizers like Festive California Walnuts. Simply adjust the ingredients to create savory, hot or sweet treats. Serve snappy Firecracker Cherry Walnut Salsa to brighten up everything from hot dogs and burgers to grilled fish and poultry. The more jalapeño pepper you use, the zippier the salsa will be. And if you haven't tried couscous yet, now's the time. Tiny couscous grains are made from semolina, the same wheat product that is used in making pasta. Like pasta, it is dried, and has a subtle flavor that adapts well to a variety of flavorings and additions, and it is equally good served hot with a sauce or cold in a salad. For Couscous Walnut Cherry Confetti, use a box of plain couscous, without added seasonings. After a brief soak in hot water, couscous is ready to use. How easy is that? For a festive beverage, fill a tall glass with Cherry Lemon Sparkler--a sure bet to help tame the heat. This version of lemonade, kissed with a cherry-flavored syrup made from fresh sweet Northwest Cherries, looks as festive as it tastes.

For more information and recipes, check out www.walnuts.org and www.washingtonstatefruit.com.

Firecracker Cherry Walnut Salsa

2 cups Northwest fresh sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup fresh white or yellow corn kernels, OR frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped (2 to 4 tablespoons), OR 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted California walnuts

In medium bowl, combine cherries, onion, corn, jalapeño pepper, parsley, balsamic vinegar, gingerroot and salt. Stir and toss together with spoon or fork to mix ingredients evenly. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Before serving, stir in walnuts. Makes about 3 cups.

Festive California Walnuts

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 cups California walnuts

Preheat oven to 225 F and line large shallow baking pan with foil. Combine egg white and water. Beat until foamy. Add nuts and toss to coat. Pour mixture into strainer and let drain 2 to 3 minutes. Combine sugar, cinnamon and allspice in plastic or paper bag, shaking bag to mix. Add walnuts; hold bag shut and shake vigorously to coat nuts. Spread nuts in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely, stirring occasionally and breaking nuts apart if stuck together. (Don't worry if they stick to the foil, it is easy to peel them off.) Store in tightly capped jar. Makes 2 cups.

Cherry Lemon Sparkler

3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup Northwest fresh sweet cherries, halved and pitted
1 cup fresh lemon juice, refrigerated
Crushed ice
1 bottle (1 liter) club soda or seltzer
Northwest fresh sweet cherries with stems
4 long stems fresh mint

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan; add halved cherries. Bring mixture to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain syrup into container with tight fitting lid; discard cherries. Refrigerate syrup until cold. For each serving: Fill tall 12- to 16-ounce glass with ice. Pour 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup syrup over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with cherries and mint. Makes 4 servings. Tip: Leftover syrup may be stored, refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Couscous Walnut Cherry Confetti

2 1/3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if needed
1 1/2 cups (one 10-ounce box) dry couscous
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper, or a mixture
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toasted California walnuts, chopped
Several leaves of butter lettuce or red leaf lettuce

Bring water and salt to boil in large saucepan (about 4-quart capacity--helps grains cook without sticking together). Stir in couscous, then cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand just 5 minutes. Scrape couscous into large bowl. Add olive oil, then toss and fluff couscous with fork to separate grains and coat with oil. Cool to room temperature. Add onion, bell pepper, lemon juice, mint and ground pepper. Stir and toss with fork to blend ingredients and flavorings. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Add cherries and walnuts, then stir and toss to combine. Place lettuce leaves around edge of serving bowl or platter, then mound salad in center. Makes 6 servings.


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