Even if May is gray, summer is swinging into the farmers markets with stone fruit this week — cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and pluots by the basketfuls. Cherry-picking season is typically from May to June, and they are at their crispy best right now. Whether you choose the deep crimson Tulare or the honey-sweet golden Rainier varieties, get your cherries in the fridge as soon as possible, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. Wash them with cold water just before eating.

Manhattan Beach farmers market cherries; Credit: Michele Stueven

Manhattan Beach farmers market cherries; Credit: Michele Stueven

Whether baked in a cobbler or raw, the perfect cherry pairing is a California freestone peach, be it the yellow-fleshed Elegant Lady or O’Henry. We picked up bags of both at the Manhattan Beach Farmers market for a holiday weekend cherry-peach crisp.

With about 50 stalls, this South Bay certified market is food vendor–heavy and a relaxing lunch spot. You can smell the intoxicating aroma of Cumin Express rotisserie chicken for blocks on a Tuesday morning, juices from the rotating birds basting the garlic potatoes below. But there’s plenty of produce, too, from favorite farms like Arnett, Bozzini and JR Organics.

Cherry-peach crisp; Credit: Michele Stueven

Cherry-peach crisp; Credit: Michele Stueven

Dig into summer with this recipe for cherry-peach crisp:

2 lbs. fresh peaches, pitted and cubed
2 cups fresh pitted cherries
1 orange, zested and juiced
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups Vanilla Almond Granola (or your favorite flavor)
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Toss peaches and cherries in a bowl with orange juice, zest, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and flour. Marinate for an hour or so…

For the topping, combine granola, sugar and cold butter in food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds.

Fill individual ramekins or casserole dish with fruit mixture and top with a pat or pats of butter. Sprinkle with topping. Place on a sheet tray and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes. Top with vanilla ice cream, or buttermilk ice cream if you can find it. Or make your own!

LA Weekly