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Gina Ferwerda’s Michigan Cherry Salad recipe

At every restaurant in Michigan, you will see a cherry salad on the menu. Now, Gina Ferwerda, recipe developer and cookbook author gives us her take on it. The basics are dried cherries, salad greens, candied nuts, blue cheese and/or gorgonzola. I like to do the candied cayenne walnuts to add a little sweet heat. We grow spicy Asian greens for a short time here in the summer, but if those aren’t available, feel free to substitute your favorite leafy greens. Gina loves the dressing so much that she always keep it on hand.

Michigan Cherry Salad (With Maple-Cayenne Candied Walnuts and Cherry-Balsamic Vinaigrette) Serves 6


  • Maple-Cayenne Candied Walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Michigan maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces chopped walnuts (about ¾ cup)
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • Cherry-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cherry preserves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 16 ounces Asian mixed greens (substitute: any fresh field greens)
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onions
  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Fresh Michigan black sweet cherries, pitted and halved, for garnish (if in season)



In a small saucepan, add butter, maple syrup, vanilla, sugar, cayenne, salt and walnuts. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour walnuts onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, let cool.


In a small skillet, add bacon and cook over medium-high heat for 9 to 11 minutes, or until done but not too crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.


In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, mustard and cherry preserves. Slowly pour in olive oil, continually whisking until everything is well incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.


Add mixed greens and dried cherries to a large bowl. Add bacon, onion slices and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle dressing over greens and top with black sweet cherries, when in season. Toss and serve. 

For more from Gina visit her websiteFacebook and Instagram.