By Jodi Lewchuk

Makes 4 servings

My favourite topping for winter-breakfast oatmeal – dried cherries and hazelnuts – was the inspiration for this salad. During the short local cherry season the opportunity to leave behind the dried fruit and eat fresh cherries leaking their sweet juices is always a treat. Here the tender fruit and crunchy nuts are paired with peppery watercress (some sources class cress as a vegetable but since my herb-and-spice encyclopedia lists it as an herb, so do I) before being tossed in a dressing with complementary floral notes from the lime and then topped with tangy cheese. Though the hazelnut oil nicely amplifies the nutty flavour of the salad, feel free to substitute your usual salad oil in the vinaigrette. (If time permits, lightly toast the hazelnuts prior to chopping and rub them in a dish towel to remove their skins.)

4 cups lightly packed watercress, washed well and spun dry
1 1/2 cups halved and pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
3 Tbsp hazelnut oil
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more if needed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (chèvre) or blue cheese

In a large bowl, combine the watercress, cherries and hazelnuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Divide the salad evenly among four plates, topping each serving with a sprinkling of the crumbled cheese. Grind some additional black pepper over the top of each serving, if desired.

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