Cherries + Fennel + Lentils

Summer storms are a new indulgence for me. Cozied in a reading chair by our front window I tend to my journal and a cup of cold tea. Torrents of rain bear down on the front walk and I visualize a release of stagnant memories, ideas, and beliefs being carried down the road with the leaves to the storm drain. Shaun is in the Domincan Republic, filming, and I sit alone, silent at my perch, letting the explosive energy of the passing thunder reverberate in my bones.

Thoughts pass, yet nothing lingers. I experience an excess of calm amidst the raging weather and am reminded, again, of my smallness. I am a speck of matter and energy in this massive, bursting earthplane of people, places and dreams.

During my months living at sea, I used to spend hours gazing upon the open ocean, begging the waves to teach me their humility and sense of time. Years later, in this chair and the throes of a summer storm, no begging is needed. I am both humbled and grateful for the gift of an unrushed hour to my afternoon. Tears form, then a smile. For the first time in a long time, I actually believe it will all be okay. 

Tomorrow my morning walk will smell of fresh ideas, resolve, and renewed opportunity, the rain will have cleansed the world of todays mistakes and made space for all that can, and will, come next. Exhale.

// july 6

Cherry, Lentil, Fennel Salad 

  • 1/2 lb red cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 small bulbs fennel, shaved
  • 4-5 small red beets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup de puy lentils
  • 2 giant handfuls of baby greens (kale, chard, etc.)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, julienned
  • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • salt/pepper on hand

I’m going to make these instructions short and sweet, a salad is as salad does folks. Boil lentils for 20 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Steam sliced beets for 10 minutes. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Finely slice fennel and place in a small bowl. Douse with salt and massage with hands. Let sit for 10 minutes, rinse, drain. Pit cherries. Set aside. Toast pumpkin seed under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine basil, mint, shallot, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir. Pile in cherries, softened fennel, steamed beets, and lentils. Stir to coat. Cut in Avocado. Toss with greens (probably should use your hands to get everything good and mixed/coated). Top with seeds, salt, pepper.

 ** Sharley and Caroline, this one’s for you ladies. Thank you for sharing your kindness and light with me last week.

  1. talley

    I wait all year for summer thunderstorms. There’s nothing quite like them. They bring calm, and cool and cozy, all wrapped into a bundle of rain and some threatening booms. There was a storm here last night and the air this morning is perfection, crisp and breezy. This salad will be perfect on a summer night with a book and a bottle of wine, looking forward to trying it.


  2. Emma @ Poires au Chocolat

    I wish we had summer storms. We just have incessant rain at the moment. It never seems to stop! Hopefully when it finally does, my world will be cleansed and smell of fresh ideas too :)


  3. purelymichelle

    oh yum! this sounds like a great combo.

    we had our first storm in like weeks. it was a nice break from all this heat.


  4. Winnie

    Beautiful, Kelsey.


  5. sarah

    Beautiful as always, Kelsey.’I used to spend hours gazing upon the open ocean, begging the waves to teach me their humility and sense of time.’ You are a stunning being.


  6. Kathryn

    There is something magical about summer storms isn’t there? The way that the air & the light just suddenly changes and then the world emerges looking fresh and clean.


  7. Magda

    I always enjoy reading your words and gazing at your photos. Beautiful salad.


  8. Melissa

    Lovely. We need some summer storms desperately here as we are essentially in a drought. Please send some our way our crops and farms will thank you (as will my miniscule garden).


  9. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Isn’t it funny what a storm will do… it brings all sorts of emotions out.

    Such a stunning salad. I’ve been doing a lot of similar dishes recently. Gorgeous.


  10. Cookie and Kate

    I love thunderstorms so much, I refuse to live anywhere that doesn’t storm at least occasionally. Glad you’ve found them.


  11. Ashlae

    The summer storms were much welcomed, eh? I, too, sat curled up in a chair and listened to the rain as it pounded on our tin roof. Nothing more comforting than watching the city calm down for a bit while mother nature does her good work.

    This salad looks delicious, by the way.


  12. Caitlin

    Kelsey this sounds so delicious! I am going to make this tonight after I get my hands on some fennel.


  13. Melissa // thefauxmartha

    I love anything that will slow me down. Especially snow in the winter. Hope the transition is being nice. I’m still in the “can we go back now” stage. :)


  14. la domestique

    I’m a big fan of lentils and this is a great flavor combo! I’ve been loving the rain too. It poured buckets yesterday and I felt like I wasn’t in Colorado anymore, rather, someplace like Ireland. Beautifully written post, Kelsey!


  15. Courtney

    Summer storms always seem to put me in the best of moods. Maybe it’s because they mean a temporary reprieve from the sweltering Texas beat, but I like to think it’s because I can slow down for a minute and appreciate all that is around me. I’ve been trying to think of some new ways to enjoy lentils so this recipe came at the perfect time! I think I’m most intrigued by the interesting mix of ingredients.


  16. Laura

    Oh gosh summer storms. They are truly something. Always a good opportunity to pause, take a bunch of deep breaths and start again. And to dream up beautiful dishes like this. Bravo, miss.


  17. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Gorgeous salad. I do miss summer storms. We always used to get them in New Jersey.


  18. Golubka

    Kelsey, this is beautiful! Such great colors and flavours. I’m eating a bowl of cherries as we speak, cannot stop.


  19. Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn

    Thought provoking words to go along with a thought provoking salad. I read your title, and was immediately intrigued. I would never think to combine fennel and cherries, but I will now.


  20. Sarah

    Love the ingredients – totally unusual and looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.


  21. Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    Three of my favorite flavors, under my favorite type of sky: Grey and violent, stormy, thundering. Summer is a miracle, every single year.


  22. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This is stunning! Great idea!


  23. marissa @ the boot

    stunning words and photos kelsey. this salad is a combination of such intriguing flavors! i am definitely making it. :)


  24. Hailey

    I love the way you write about the world Kelsey. And I love that you wrote me back on my last comment (from “owning it.”) I am continuously grateful to have found your blog, your photos, your recipes, and your words.

    Can’t wait to try this salad!


  25. Rachel

    What a beautiful reflection. Storms in summer do something special to us. Achieving calm with all that going on around you is no small task.
    I see a storm in this salad and I love how your writing shows that part of it!


  26. sara

    so so gorgeous. I love the quiet house when Hugh is away. Not as much hustle or thinking about what’s for dinner. Alone in my head. Enjoy your time. The salad looks incredible.


  27. Betsy

    Ahhhh summer storms. I remember those days. i’m glad you’re finding peace in your new surroundings. This salad looks delicious and beautiful. I’d love if you’d link up over at Seasonal Potluck. July is cherries month


  28. Kasey

    I have to admit that I’ve always kind of despised rain. Only recently, have I started to appreciate its gift: the simple opportunity to pause, reflect, cleanse, refresh. I love your description of the water and the sea -it sounds magical, and hope life is CO is treating you well. And cherries? I feel like we’re always hanging by a thread, holding our breath before they disappear. I want to eat everything with cherries! xo


  29. Chinmayie @love food eat

    I wish I could see what you see through your camera. Simply beautiful!


  30. Sneh | Cook Republic

    Rainbow in a plate!


  31. MikeVFMK

    What a beautiful salad. Enjoy the silence while it visits and the storms can make for great company. Really lovely and some of my favourite ingredients.


  32. Margarita

    Kelsey, I am happy to know that you are settling in… Ah rain… The rain here has been hot and uncomfortable. My feelings with rain differ depending on my current circumsatnces, but most often it always brings with it a kind of comfort and melancholy at the same time… A refreshing feeling and also a feeling of homesickness…
    I love how fresh and summery this dish is… Filling, sweet, and savory, all in one!


  33. Sara

    This looks really nice! I admit I would eat too many of the cherries before they made it into the salad, but nonetheless…


  34. Weekly Top Tens | 80twenty

    […] love reading Kelsey’s beautiful prose. And I’ll be making this delicious recipe. This entry was posted in Top Tens by . Bookmark the […]

  35. Sharley

    Kelsey-Thanks for posting this WONDERFUL recipe:-) So fun learning and spending time with you in the kitchen!


  36. Amy

    We are experiencing winter rain at the moment, an unusual occurrence, but despite the extra chill in the air it provides a blanket under which I can retreat into my thoughts and prepare for the coming spring with a new plan, a new hope, and a new strength. Thank you for the lovely recipe, I will tuck it somewhere for safe keeping until cherry season is upon us again in the southern hemisphere :)


  37. Jess

    Hi, Kelsey. I hope you’re doing well. I love summer thunderstorms, too. I just packed up a lunch for myself inspired by this post — lentils, cherries, and shaved fennel, and I’m bringing along some pistachios to sprinkle over top. A much, much simplified version of your beautiful recipe, but I’m looking forward to eating it. Thanks for the inspiration!


  38. erin

    delightful. headed to the market tomorrow to see if there are cherries!


  39. thyme (Sarah)

    What a beautiful salad…full of soft colors…just like your soft words. I love the imagery in your writing. You have so much going on inside and so much to tell…we’ll listen gladly.


  40. Anoude

    I made this salad for a family gathering…absolutely delicious, fresh with that hint of anise from the fennel. I took many shortcuts (used canned lentils etc) and it still turned out amazing. Thanks!


  41. Dana

    This is so lovely. What a gorgeous salad and amazing inspiration. I would never have put those things together but it is genius.


  42. Dijana

    In the middle of finishing my final thesis for clinical psychology- should really be concentrating but just cant help paging through all your wonderful, enticing recipes and photos of scrumptious wholesome goodness! I am so looking forward to experimenting in the kitchen soon with some of your shares! Thank you. for sharing and making an artwork out of food yummy food!


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  45. lucent imagery

    We just had our first storm for spring the other day and I was so happy! I like to sit outside and watch the full, dark clouds move across the sky. x


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