- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 8, 2003

When fresh apricots first appear in the market, I have a mini panic attack. I know their season will be short and I have no time to waste.

Apricots are the first stone-fruit trees to bloom in the spring and the first stone fruit to be harvested as summer begins. In fact, the Latin word for apricot, “praecoquum,” means early in the season or precocious.

Native to China, apricots are said to have grown wild in the mountains of Asia 4,000 years ago. The apricot reached the New World in the late 16th century but wasn’t grown successfully until the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted trees in California, which provided the perfect climate for the trees to flourish. Today, California is the leading U.S. producer of apricots.

When they are in season, I buy plenty. There are anywhere from 9 to 12 apricots to a pound, depending on the size. If the fruit is too firm, close it up in a brown bag with a banana (or an apple) for a few days to hasten ripening. Do not refrigerate.

Apricots are easy to eat and to prepare. The skin is soft and tender and should never be peeled. When halved, the pit is loose and will fall right out.

We eat them every day during the season, mostly out of hand as a snack. Some I save for a dessert tart and others for a quick-and-easy dessert sauce that’s great served over vanilla ice cream.

I also like apricots cut into thin wedges and tossed into green salad.

For the menu that follows, I lightly brush them with oil, sprinkle with snipped rosemary or thyme leaves and salt and freshly ground pepper and heat them on the grill. They are delicious served with grilled chicken, as suggested in the following menu, but they are also good with lamb or pork.

Preparation: Prepare marinade and combine with chicken. Make apricot sauce. At serving time, grill potatoes, asparagus, apricot halves and chicken.

Grilled honey and balsamic vinegar glazed chicken

This marinade is also good with a boneless, butterflied leg of lamb, lamb sirloin steaks or pork tenderloin. The preparation time is 10 minutes, the marinating time is 20 to 60 minutes, and the cooking time is about 10 minutes.

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed

Herb grilled apricots (recipe follows)

Combine honey, vinegar, olive oil, rosemary or thyme leaves, garlic, teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of black pepper in a resealable heavy-duty plastic bag or a bowl. Stir to blend. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Marinate at room temperature 20 minutes or in refrigerator up to 1 hour or longer.

Preheat grill. Grill over medium heat, turning as needed, until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Serve chicken with herb grilled apricots. Makes 4 servings.

HERBED GRILLED APRICOTS:

The preparation time is 3 minutes, and the cooking time is 2 to 5 minutes.

8 firm ripe apricots, halved, pits discarded

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced rosemary or thyme leaves

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

Lightly brush apricots with oil, sprinkle with rosemary or thyme leaves and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Grill apricots about 1 minute per side or until they just begin to brown. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled asparagus and potatoes

The preparation time is 5 minutes, and the cooking time is about 15 minutes.

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed

4 medium-sized new potatoes, quartered

Extra-virgin olive oil

Rosemary or thyme

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

Arrange asparagus and potatoes on a platter. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of rosemary or thyme and salt and pepper.

Grill the potatoes over medium heat, turning often until golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Grill asparagus (placing spears across cooking grate) just until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Vanilla ice cream with apricot sauce and toasted almonds

The preparation time is 10 minutes, and the cooking time is 2 minutes.

10 ripe apricots, quartered, pits discarded

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Drop of almond extract

2 tablespoons sliced natural (skin on) almonds

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Combine apricots, sugar, lime juice and almond extract in bowl of food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.

Spread almonds in a small dry skillet and heat on low, stirring, until almonds begin to brown, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. To serve, scoop ice cream into dessert bowls. Top with apricot sauce and sprinkle with almonds. Makes 4 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INTERNATIONAL

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide