Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stuffed apricots with goat cheese and pistachios

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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.

Stuffed apricots
  • 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
Arrange the apricot halves cut-side up on a large tray.

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.

Apricot on FoodistaApricot


Kathy Diaz (found baking) said...

Wow, you've had an abundance of apricots in your life. I went to the market the other day and saw bright apricots and actually made them into a fruit pie. Such a great idea you have here for easy entertaining.

Monet said...

You have been blessed with apricots! What cool stories and what a beautiful appetizer. I can only imagine how great the salty cheese must be with the sweet fruit!

Kate @ Savour Fare said...

Those look fantastic. I think I need an apricot tree. When we were in Los Olivos this weekend, we picked an apricot right off the tree -- OMG HEAVEN.

Saturn peaches sound pretty darn good, too. How do you feel about olives? We have an olive tree that is apparently an excellent producer.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Kate - I've been thinking that my yard needs an apricot tree too. I can't figure out where to put it though. Agree that apricots right off the tree are a special kind of wonderful.

I have always wanted to cure some olives. I'm in.

robynski said...

Erika, what a great way to use fresh apricots! I would have never paired them with pistachios.

Lynne@CookandBeMerry.com said...

These look so delicious! I'd like to eat about six of these right now!

Lentil Breakdown said...

Absolutely gorgeous—apricots and photos! Am already going through apricot withdrawal while I still have some. Four measly weeks isn't fair!


Apricots are one of my favorite fruits, although if I'm being honest, all fruit is my favorite fruit! Have usually eaten apricots plain or grilled w/ice cream but these little darlings look very, very special!

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Erika, you are one lucky gal to have access to those apricots. This recipe is wonderful. The rosemary & cheese are such an elegant & creative ingredient combination! xo

Megan said...

I love this recipe! Something different and unique. Bookmarked and stumbled!

Erika Kerekes said...

Thanks for the stumble, Megan! And thanks everyone else for the compliments. You know how sometimes you feel like you happened upon the luckiest of lucky combinations? That's how I felt with this recipe. A keeper for sure!

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