Jewels of Ancient and Modern Cuisine
The beloved apricot, one of the golden jewels of agriculture since ancient times, remains a treasured fruit in our modern era. Since the season for this fresh fruit is fleeting, most apricots are dried or canned to provide maximum availability. Historians have differing opinions about the origin of this delicious stone fruit, but many believe that it was first cultivated in Armenia.
Grilled Apricots with Pistachios and Dark Chocolate
A great way to celebrate apricot season is to grill the fresh fruit. Be sure to select firm, but ripe apricots for the best taste and presentation. Later, you can experiment with peaches, apples, and pears.
4 firm, ripe, fresh apricots, cut in half
Canola oil (or other vegetable oil with a neutral flavor, just enough to brush fruit)
16–32 dark semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 4 tablespoons of shaved dark chocolate)
2–3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
Preheat grill to direct high heat (450–500 °F). Brush both sides of the apricots with a thin coat of oil.
Place the apricots cut side down on the grill for 1 1/2 minutes, and then carefully flip so that the cut side faces up.
Grill for 1 more minute, and then add 2–4 chocolate chips to each cavity (depending on the size of the apricot halves and how many chips fit inside). Grill for another minute until the chocolate softens and turns glossy. (The chips will hold their shape.)
Carefully remove the fruit from the grill and place on a small serving platter. Drizzle the apricots with honey to taste, sprinkle with pistachios, and serve immediately.
Apricot Energy Smoothie
Almost everyone likes fruit smoothies because they taste so good. Boost your energy with an apricot smoothie, and enjoy its subtle flavor.
1/2 cup liquid (such as almond milk, soy milk, or coconut water; not fruit juice)
1 banana, sliced
1 15-ounce can of apricots, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup plain yogurt
6 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
Pour into pretty glasses and serve.
Heritage Apricot Spread
(Yields 3 cups)
Brighten your breakfast with this delicious apricot spread on toast or English muffins.
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
2 3-inch pieces of lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bring apricots, apple juice, water, honey, lemon peel, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until honey has dissolved.
Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the liquid has reduced and become syrupy and the apricots have become very soft (about 15 minutes if you’re using California apricots or 45 minutes for Turkish apricots). If the liquid has been absorbed and the apricots are not yet soft, add 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking.
Remove from heat. Discard the lemon peel. Let cool for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Puree the mixture in a food processor until the consistency is very smooth. (If needed, add a little water to achieve a spreadable consistency.)
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Apricot Quinoa Salad
Surprise your guests with this “fancy restaurant” menu item. The unexpected combination of sugar snap peas, apricots, and fresh herbs makes a delicious and memorable salad.
For the salad:
3 cups of cooked quinoa, cooled
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced diagonally into half-inch pieces
3–4 apricots, sliced (if using canned apricots, use 6–8 halves)
For the salad dressing:
3 apricots, sliced (if using canned apricots, use 6 halves)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put all of the ingredients for the salad dressing in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions. When cooled, fluff with a fork.
Gently mix the fresh herbs, feta cheese, almonds, sugar snap peas, and apricots with the quinoa. Reserve a little of the fresh herbs, feta cheese, and apricots to garnish the top of the salad.
Toss with 1/4 cup of the salad dressing.
Garnish with reserved fresh herbs, feta cheese, and apricot slices.
Refrigerate and serve cold.
Just before serving, drizzle the remaining salad dressing over the top.