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A Summer List

So you have a summer list? You know, the thing you write at the beginning of summer when everything feels possible. For the past several years we’ve had a summer to-do list only to come to the start of a new school year and find all the things we didn’t cross off. Suddenly our wonderful and full summer felt unsuccessful because we didn’t cross things off our list.

Even with those silly end-of-summer disappointments brought on by the list I still have a summer list for this year.  But this list is different. It’s just enough so that if a day has no plans we can turn to it for inspiration but it’s loose enough that we will have no problem crossing off its items. Like picnics on the beach, read a good book and eat cherries by the handful.

We can cross off that last one a dozen times already as June’s massive heat has brought our prized cherries earlier than usual this year. More often than not our cherries never make it into anything except our mouths and I imagine you’re much the same. But I still wanted you to be tempted by this recipe because it uses the sweetness of cherries to balance a tart and savory salad that goes beautifully with anything you may be pulling off the grill this summer.

Pomegranate molasses adds an exotic tanginess that is makes it worth seeking out this ingredient but if you’d rather put time into crossing something off your summer list than seek this out then you can leave it out and add a bit more lemon and a touch of honey in its place.

Whether you are making a list or not I hope your summer days are filled with handfuls of cold cherries and leisurely picnics. Hopefully with this salad included.

ashley rodriguez

Photo property of Not Without Salt. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries

Serves 6-8 as a side.



3 cups Israeli couscous

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cherries, pitted and quartered

1 cup (4 ounces) marcona almonds

1/2 red onion, diced

1 1/2 cups, packed fresh parsley and mint leaves

1/2 cup crumbled feta



  1. Cook the couscous in boiling water that is seasoned with salt and a glug of olive oil. Drain the couscous while it’s still al dente, about 7-9 minutes but each variety is different so continually check the doneness.
  2. Rinse the couscous with cold water to stop the cooking then set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the pomegranate molasses, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add this to the couscous.
  4. Mix in the cherries, almonds and onion.
  5. Finely mince the fresh herbs and add those to the salad. Finish with fresh feta.
  6. Taste and adjust to your liking, adding more salt or lemon juice if needed.

Ashley Rodriguez

Chef, Mom, Creator of Not Without Salt, Author of Date Night In