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Cherry season warrants a fruity twist on tabbouleh

This year, I get two cherry seasons: the one that is just ending in California (and is coming into full swing in other parts of the country) and the one that I enjoyed in late May in France. Every year, usually in summer, I visit a dear friend in the Luberon region of Provence. I went earlier this time, and her cherry trees were heavy with fruit.

Every morning, we leisurely picked our breakfast cherries from the lower branches. We tended to polish off a bowl before I got around to using the cherries in desserts.

One day, I dispatched my son and another friend higher into the trees to fill bags with more fruit. When they were done, I had several kilos, enough for desserts and savory dishes, salads in particular.

I love combining cherries with arugula, but this time I had a new idea: a lemony herb salad, much like a classic Lebanese tabbouleh, with lots of parsley and mint, a little bit of fine bulgur, and sweet juicy chopped cherries standing in for the tomatoes that were not quite in season.

I wanted something nutty in the mix for texture and flavor, so I tossed in a handful of toasted pistachios and used pistachio oil in the dressing. The result is an irresistible salad I am calling cherry tabbouleh.

Like authentic tabbouleh, it’s primarily an herb salad with a little bit of bulgur and the wonderful juicy surprise of cherries in each bite.

Cherry Tabbouleh

Yield: Serves 4

Time: 10 minutes, plus 20 to 30 minutes’ soaking

¼ cup fine bulgur

Salt to taste

½ cup boiling water

1¼ cups finely chopped parsley, tightly packed

¼ to ½ cup finely chopped mint, to taste, tightly packed

24 sweet cherries, such as Bing or Queen Anne, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons pistachio oil

¼ cup pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

1. Place bulgur in a bowl. Add a little salt, cover with boiling water and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until bulgur is tender and has absorbed most of the water.

2. Transfer bulgur to a strainer and press out excess water.

3. Combine the bulgur, parsley, mint and cherries in a large bowl and toss.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt to taste, the olive oil and the pistachio oil. Toss with salad mixture. Add pistachios, toss again and serve.