The essence of summer is upon us, even though we are about a month away from its official launch.
The warming weather, longer days, evening barbecuing on a regular basis, and yes, that absolutely delicious seasonal stone fruit bring it all together for me. This past weekend I brought home three types of cherries, yellow and white peaches, freshly harvested nectarines, and a fruit as golden as the sun itself: California-grown apricots.
Maybe it’s because it’s been nearly nine months since enjoying any of these fruits, but every year when the fruits emerge and I sink my teeth into the juicy flesh, they seem to taste better than ever. This week, I was most drawn to the bowl of apricots on my table, consuming many as a general snack, and others incorporated into smoothies.
Some were tossed into a kale salad topped with toasted almonds and red onion. Others were made into a homemade apricot crisp that we served over ice cream after a dinner of baby back ribs and grilled veggies. The tangy sweet flavor and intoxicating aroma of tree-ripened apricots really hit the spot.
In addition to apricots, I also encountered a new product from the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company this week; pistachio butter. With a vibrant green color, and soft but not oily consistency, every bite was brimming with pure pistachio flavor. Pairing quite well with the apricot profile, this week I prepared a simple appetizer of stuffed apricots with goat cheese and pistachio butter.
I drizzled half with honey and the other half with a good quality aged balsamic vinegar. Both preparations were quite pleasing. You can also top with ribbons of fresh basil or finely chopped mint leaves for a nice pop of color and layer of additional refreshing flavor.
PISTACHIO BUTTER AND GOAT CHEESE-STUFFED APRICOTS
10 apricots, cut in half and pits discarded
4 ounces goat cheese (I used the Drake family farm Mt. Baldy but any chèvre will do)
6 ounces pistachio butter
Honey and/or aged balsamic vinegar
Place your apricots on platter cut size up. In a mixing bowl, combine goat cheese and pistachio butter until incorporated. Stuff cavity of each apricot with scoop of your mixture. Then dish by drizzling the top with honey and/or aged balsamic vinegar.
Can also top with fresh herbs, walnuts, toasted almonds and/or pistachio kernels.
Makes 20 appetizer bites.