The velvet-skinned apricot is an early arrival to the summer season. It is my favorite fruit because it is both sweet and sour. Its place in a meal depends on its ripeness. When soft, I bake the apricots in wine and serve them as dessert. When firm, I make a salad, reminiscent of the “macedonia di frutta” I grew up with in Italy.
This is a recipe for a simple salad made with a handful of uncomplicated ingredients. Choose tart, firm apricots and marinate them with the zest and juice of an orange mixed with honey and a bunch of fresh mint. It’s as uncomplicated as that.
- 12 firm apricots
- the zest and juice of one organic orange
- 25 grams of local organic honey or orange infused honey
- a handful of fresh mint leaves
Wash the apricots and cut them in half, removing their pits. Cut the fruit into quarters. Wash the orange and grate its perfumed outer layer into threads with a citrus zester, scattering it over the fruit. Cut the orange in half and squeeze its juices over the apricots. Stir in the honey and chill the fruit in a bowl for 30 minutes. Remove the apricots from the refrigerator. Wash the fresh mint and pick the leaves from the stems. Cut the mint into ribbons and toss it through the marinated apricots.
♦ Suggested combinations
Serve the apricots as an appetizer with a fresh goat’s cheese, like the Crottin. Toss them through a salad with sharp, fresh arugula. When marinated for longer than two hours, the apricots soften from the juices of the orange and honey. Stir the apricots and through ripe summer fruits like peaches, nectarines and melon.
Make a sweet and savory dish of marinated apricots, fresh buffalo mozzarella, cracked pink pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lavender.
Fresh apricots fill the wooden crates in my pantry only to be replaced by jars of dried apricots in autumn and winter. Dried apricots are the perfect basis for jams and tart fillings.
A macedonia di frutta is a mixture of fresh seasonal fruits cut into pleasantly bite-size pieces, flavored with lemon juice and served as a salad. Macedonia is often the pride of trattorie throughout Italy, a family tradition in most homes and a dish that reminds me of sitting on a terrace with a view of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.