My Secret Weapon Flavor Bomb for Savory, Summery Vinaigrettes

Last night we had friends over for a Fourth of July warm-up dinner party. The hyper-local menu–Grilled Sumac Lamb Chops, Cherry Couscous Salad and Asparagus–was created with the bulk of ingredients sourced in a one-mile radius; easy to pull off at this time of the year in the orchards and farmlands of Northern Michigan.

Concentrated cherry juice processed from cherries up the road lends the acidity and sweet to this versatile vinaigrette.

The day before yesterday, I marinated lamb chops 24 hours (refrigerated) in a mixture of whole milk, plain yogurt, garlic, ground sumac and cinnamon. (I’ll post the recipe after re-proof.)

Then, I made a couscous salad and am particularly excited about the impromptu vinaigrette, which was simply delicious.  My secret weapon was cherry juice concentrate. With the acidity and sweet of fresh ripe cherries, it was a flavor bomb  in this salad. (Recipe below.)

This vinaigrette would be marvelous in any grain or leafy green salad or a lovely marinade for fowl, pork or lamb.  Oh my. This little vinaigrette is an absolute gem.

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini

Fresh Cherry and Goat Cheese Crostini

You don’t have to live in the middle of a cherry orchard–grocery stores across the world carry cherry juice concentrates.  Here’s a link to King Orchards, if interested, to purchase the exact concentrate I use. (And no. Uncle Jim and Aunt Sue aren’t the owners and, as always, I receive no compensations for my posts and recommendations on this site, which remains blissfully “ad-free”.)

The Fourth of July Grill

The Fourth of July Grill

In the spirit of the season, here are some more cherry-inspired blogs from seasons past to whet your whistle, many of which are perfect for the celebratory Fourth:

Fresh Cherry Goat Cheese CrostiniCherry GazpachoSmoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce.


Explosively Delicious Recipes

Have a happy and safe Fourth, my friends! Some more non-cherry inspired ideas for the holidays: Firecracker Shrimp Firecracker Flank Steak with Margarita FlavorsFourth of July Sheet Cake.

Recipe: Fresh Cherry Couscous Salad


  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup nut oil, such as pistachio, walnut or peanut
  • 1 1/4 cups dry (uncooked) couscous
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup quartered fresh pitted cherries (or 1/2 cup dried cherries)
  • 1 cup quartered fresh pitted apricots (or 1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint


  1. Soak shallot in cherry concentrate and orange juice ten minutes. Make a dressing by whisking oil into shallot/juice mixture.
  2. Cook couscous according to package instructions. (I used chicken stock instead of salted water.)
  3. Toss dressing into warm couscous. Season to taste with kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne. Toss cherries and apricots into salad. (May be made, at this point, up to 24 hours in advance.)
  4. Before serving, stir in pistachios and mint.

Total time: 25 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 SERVINGS

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