Cherries & Beets Belong Together—Especially on Ricotta Toast

August  7, 2018

Restraint is not my strong suit on the weekends. I go to the farmers market with a list... and then impulse buy the prettiest fruit, the most fragrant herbs, maybe a jar of marinated beets or pickled radishes because those free samples are irresistible bait. I get home and dream about all of the things I want to make: big, beautiful grilled salads, summery sheet pan dinners, gorgeous fruit pies and cobblers, pesto and other herby sauces to freeze now and use later.

Then, life happens. Between work and the kids’ activities, there’s not nearly enough time during the week to make a fraction of the things I’ve planned. Suddenly, it’s Tuesday night and that sheet pan dinner I had in mind takes 40 minutes, but we’re tired and hungry and need dinner ASAP.

Enter...toast for dinner. Yes, it might seem a bit light, but with the right toppings, toast can make a satisfying meal. Plus, the effort-to-reward ratio is one of the best I’ve found.

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Here’s my current favorite: sweet cherries, earthy beets, basil, and mint piled high on thick slices of ricotta-slathered toast. It’s a toast to eat with big napkins on your laps, not the dainty crostini you make for parties.

Daring—not delicate—toast. Photo by Rocky Luten

I begin with stirring together ricotta, a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil, and zest from the plumpest lemon I have. I pit a handful of cherries in no time (thanks to my cherry pitter, best unitasker ever), run my knife through some marinated beets from that jar I couldn’t help but buy over the weekend, and combine them in a separate bowl. I pile basil leaves on the board, sprinkle with sea salt, and start chopping. The staccato of the knife hitting my board calms me. I toss the beets and cherries with big pinches of basil salt and juice from that lemon I just zested.

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Top Comment:
“Meanwhile, my two easiest summer meals each star one ingredient: * steamed or roasted corn on the cob, with either butter or olive oil, grind of pepper, dash of salt. * perfectly ripe tomatoes at room temperature, baguette or ciabatta, unsalted butter, sea salt.”
— Nancy

While the beets and cherries are macerating, I fry thick slices of bread in olive oil until they’re crisp and golden on the outside, still a little soft on the inside. It’s my favorite way to make toast.

All that remains is assembly (I’m definitely not going for Instagram-pretty tonight), then straight to the table. Famished, we dig in. The frenzied, hangry rush we felt minutes ago melts away as the crimson juices of cherries and beets spill down our chins and onto our plates. I bring the bowl of extra cherries and beets to the table, spooning out every last bit.

Toast to the rescue!

Beets and cherries are an unexpected yet totally exhilarating duo. I love them so much, I created this simple arugula salad and a main plate salad with them (the Salmon and Beet Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette in Mighty Salads). And now these toasts—a pared down, no less exciting way to go.

If you’re like my kids and still coming around to beets, you can add a few strips of prosciutto or salami to bulk up your toasts. But beet-lover, or not, there are so many reasons to love this dish. I have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes, we all eat well, clean-up is easy, and I make good use of those impulse buys from the weekend. I’ll toast to that any day of the week.

What's your best summery no-fuss dinner? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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  • vrinda
  • Tammy Robinson
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Written by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.


vrinda January 28, 2019
why do my golden beets turn black after cooking
Tammy R. August 16, 2018
Are marinated beets the same as pickled?
Author Comment
EmilyC August 17, 2018
Hi Tammy: good question! Someone else asked the same one, so I added some notes on the recipe page!
Nancy August 8, 2018
Great idea, visually striking, can't wait to try this!
Meanwhile, my two easiest summer meals each star one ingredient:
* steamed or roasted corn on the cob, with either butter or olive oil, grind of pepper, dash of salt.
* perfectly ripe tomatoes at room temperature, baguette or ciabatta, unsalted butter, sea salt.
Author Comment
EmilyC August 8, 2018
Thanks Nancy -- really hope you like the toasts! And I love the way you're eating this summer! There's really nothing better than great summer produce for dinner.