Fresh apricots stuffed with goat cheese and chopped pistachios
There have been three apricot trees in my life.
The first stood in the backyard of my mother's cousin Bernice. I never saw it with ripe fruit - somehow, in the 10 years between when I met Bernice (her branch of the family left New York for Los Angeles in the 1950s, and she and my mother fell out of touch) and when she died, I never managed to be there in the two weeks the apricots were ready to pick. That's the thing about apricots, or maybe all stone fruit: When they're ready, they're all ready. When they're done, so long until next year.
The second apricot tree belongs to friends whose son goes to school with my boys. It stands next to two beloved fig trees which produce so much fruit each September that I often come home to find 10 pounds of soft, squishy figs in a grocery bag hanging from the front door handle. The apricot tree fruits heavily, but there are some very smart squirrels in their neighborhood. This year, by the time I called to ask whether the apricots were ready, the squirrels had won the war. Our friends went out to look for fruit and found piles of pits, picked perfectly clean, on the ground under the tree. Not one apricot left for the humans.
Lucky for me that a third apricot tree appeared this year. Two people who work in my office are renting a house with a dozen or more fruit trees. The apricot tree is in the front yard next to a Saturn peach tree. Both trees have been generous, and I've reaped most of the rewards, because the friends in the house neither make jam nor bake. They've invited me to pick as much fruit as I can use - and I've taken most of it, I think. The peaches disappeared quickly when the cousins were visiting. That week we also discovered that my niece, the Princess, adores apricots. She ate a dozen a day. These apricots have been sweet and juicy, firm giving way after a day or two to soft and luscious. They're almost done now, and I'm savoring each little one, because I know that once they're gone, it's another 50 weeks until they reappear.
We were invited to a cookout last weekend, and I brought a huge tray of these stuffed apricots. I was unprepared for the lavish praise they received. Apricots, a little cheese, a sprinkling of chopped nuts - simple. But then again, when the fruit is perfectly ripe, simpler is better.
- 15 fresh, ripe apricots, halved, pits removed
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup roasted salted pistachios, shelled and chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
In a food processor or mini-chopper, blend the goat cheese, cream cheese, rosemary and lemon zest until the mixture is smooth. You want to make sure in particular that the rosemary has been chopped finely - there's nothing worse than biting down on a big stick of rosemary, in my book. Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag with a small star tip. Don't worry if you're less than proficient with a piping bag - me too - it won't matter once the apricots are done.
In the center of each apricot, pipe a mound of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios (these hide any imperfections in your piping technique, and if you think I added them just for the flavor, you're mistaken). Dust with a healthy pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Serve and watch the smiles.
Note: I made these a few hours ahead and kept them at room temperature with no problem. If it had been a warmer day, I might have waited until the last minute.