It’s August and stone fruit season is in full swing. Plums, peaches, and apricots abound. The apricots seem exotic to me because I know they’ll disappear before the peaches and plums. The most popular preparations of this are sweet, like apricot jam or tart, and of course dried apricots. I love their color and appearance and I’d like to find a way to serve them that preserves their shape, so grilling them seems like the way to go. Fresh goat cheese from a stand nearby will pair with the fruit nicely, as the fat and sourness from the cheese will accentuate its sweetness.
Apricots were first cultivated in China, and then spread throughout Central Asia via the Silk Road. Apricots reached the West through Greece, where they were brought back by Alexander the Great. Turkey is the world’s leading producer of apricots, followed by Iran and Italy. Apricot kernels grown in parts of Central Asia and the Mediterranean are very sweet and can be substituted for almonds. Amaretto, the almond flavored liqueur from Italy, is flavored with apricot kernel extract.
Apricots are high in beta-carotene, vitamin A, and fiber. The fruit provides minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, and Vitamin C. Dried apricots have an even higher concentration of minerals. Apricot kernels are thought to contain large amounts of vitamin B17, which in limited doses has been described as an immune booster.
For a different and sweeter take on this recipe, skip the salt and pepper, grill the apricots the same way and after topping with goat cheese, drizzle them with honey and garnish with a few mint leaves.
Time: 30 minutes
A few tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup goat cheese
A few tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
First take the goat cheese out of the frig. Remove whatever packaging it came in and set it in a medium sized bowl. Put it aside and let it sit out at room temp.
Take the apricots and slice them in half. The easiest way is to find the seam that runs all the way around the fruit and insert your knife there. Cut all the way around, and the two halves should come apart cleanly. Just pull out the pit. Once the apricots are halved, drizzle them lightly with a little olive oil, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set them aside on a plate for grilling.
Turn on the heat under the grill. Once the grill is very hot, after it has been on for a few minutes, you can start grilling. Using tongs, put the apricots on the grill flesh side down. They only need a short time on the grill, about 30 seconds on the first side. Press down firmly on the apricot with the tongs for a couple of seconds to get grill marks. Now turn the apricots over and cook for another 10 seconds, and remove.
Once you’ve finished grilling, turn off the grill pan. Now the goat cheese should be pretty pliable. Take a spatula or large spoon and stir the cheese. If it’s too hard, add a dash of milk or water to soften it up a little more.
Now take the grilled apricots and put a little goat cheese on each one, right in the space where the pit was. Use 2 spoons. Scoop the cheese with the first spoon, then use the back of the 2nd spoon to scrape the cheese onto the fruit.
Now the apricots are filled, drizzle them with a little balsamic vinegar. Grind a small amount of fresh black pepper over the fruit. If you like, mince a little fresh rosemary and sprinkle it over the filled apricots. Serve the apricots at room temperature.
Yield: 4 servings