Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Cherries and Sage

by Talley

in Appetizers & Sides,Fruit,Main Course,Pasta & Grains,Vegetarian

Jerry Traunfeld, acclaimed herb guru and chef formerly of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, and now of Poppy in Capitol Hill, has a couple cookbooks that are always bouncing around on my bookshelf… mainly because they get used so often that they have yet to find a comfortable resting place. For a chef who was known for creating elaborate nine-course masterpieces at the Herbfarm, his books are incredibly approachable for the home cook and often include a number of delicious dishes that are totally feasible on a weeknight. I apparently talk about his recipes enough that recently, when I said “He” in reference to a chef (without giving any preamble), Beryl simply assumed I was referring to Traunfeld. I’m a fan.

When the cherries exploded in the farmers markets this year, I was looking forward to preparing a dish from Traunfeld’s The Herbal Kitchen that uses fresh tart cherries. The problem was, I couldn’t find them anywhere! I went to the University and Ballard Farmers’ markets and they were filled with gorgeous bing and Rainier cherries… but no tart cherries to be seen. PCC and QFC were of no help either. Do these things go straight into cans or something? I’d love to get my hands on some so if anyone knows a reliable source, let me know in the comments.

The dish I had in mind was goat cheese handkerchiefs with cherries and sage: basically a large open ravioli like thing (a fresh pasta sheet boiled and then folded around a cheese mixture) with sour cherries briefly cooked with honey and sage. Feeling decadent, and lacking sour cherries, I decided to give it a shot with the Rainier cherries that I found at the market, as well as some fresh goat and ricotta cheeses from River Valley Ranch. It worked wonderfully, although I am still very much hoping to try this dish with tart cherries as well.

You can sometimes find sheets of fresh pasta at supermarkets or food shops, but if you have the time, you can’t beat homemade pasta. You can follow this recipe for fresh egg pasta and roll it out very thin with a rolling pin or a pasta machine. Traunfeld recommends pairing this dish with a riesling, which worked well for us. I chose a slightly drier riesling because of the sweeter cherries I was using. This makes a lovely romantic appetizer or light main course  and can be halved if you only want two servings.


Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Cherries and Sage

Adapted from the Herbal Kitchen

2 oz soft mild goat cheese (1/2 cup)
½ cup whole milk ricotta
½ cup hot water
3½ Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup very small sage leaves, or larger leaves cut into thin strips
12 oz tart cherries, pitted and halved if large (or Rainier cherries)
1½ Tbsp mild honey
¼ tsp kosher salt
Eight 4-inch squares of fresh pasta

Heat your oven to very low and then turn it off. Crumble the goat cheese into a bowl, add the ricotta, and put it in the oven to warm. Combine the hot water and ½ tablespoon of the butter in a shallow dish and place it in the oven as well (this will hold the pasta once it’s cooked). Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with the sage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until the sage wilts and turns a darker green color, about 2 minutes. Add the cherries, honey, and salt, and toss over heat until the cherry skins pop and release some juice, about 3 minutes more. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir over heat, until it melts into the sauce. Remove from heat.

Boil the pasta squares until tender but still firm, just a couple minutes. Lift them gently from the water (I used a kitchen spider) and reserve in the baking dish with warm water and butter.

To assemble the dish, take four of the pasta squares and lay them out on parchment paper or a baking sheet. Gently spread about a tablespoon of the warm cheese mixture in the center of each square and fold in half on the diagonal. Transfer the filled triangles in pairs to warm dinner plates, and repeat filling the second batch of pasta. Spoon the cherries and sauce over the pasta and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom August 12, 2009 at 6:58 pm

This also looks delicious, can I come live with you


Tokyo Terrace September 6, 2009 at 8:08 am

This recipe totally made my mouth water! It is so beautiful plated and the ingredient list includes many of my favorite flavors. Yum yum… I second “Mom”…Can I come live with you?


Gay Sherman April 20, 2010 at 5:46 am

Sour cherries ripen in early July. They are pretty much exclusively grown in the U.S. in Michigan. Earthy Delights ships them fresh in season – 3lbs for $27 or dried year-round for $9.50/lb. King Orchards ships canned tart cherries in water ($2.49 15 oz. – $11 total with shipping), and frozen cherries by special order.

This recipe reminds me of the cuisine I enjoyed while living in the Veneto region of Italy (Padova / Padua). I will certainly try this one!

I noticed one of your favorite cookbooks is one of my staples, Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni. Might I suggest a couple of my favorites? Trattoria by Patricia Wells (Northern Italian) and Elephant Walk (Cambodian-French cuisine) by Longteine “Nyep” de Monteiro (founding chef of the restaurant). I used to eat there when I lived in Cambridge…first discovered it several months after they opened in Somerville, MA when I was a student at Boston University. My friend Lisa was the University newspaper’s food critic – and I got to go along for the ride on many of her “assignments”!


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