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Apricots are similar to peaches, but are smaller and do not have that fuzz! Apricots have not received the attention they deserve, mostly due to those commercial "dried" apricots that taste like rubber and sugar. Fear not, these awesome bites of sunshine are sweet and soft when ripe. Don't mind that tinge of red on the flesh, it just means the fruit was kissed by the sun.

STORAGE: To help slightly unripe apricots ripen, place them in a paper bag. Close the bag and allow them to sit undisturbed in a warmish (but not hot) place for a few days. Store ripe apricots at room temperature. They will have a much better flavor if they are not chilled. If they are very ripe, then store them in your frige. Make sure to check on them as they ripen. 

Quick Ideas: Cut in half, take out the pit and fill with yogurt or cottage cheese for a tasty treat; cut up into a salad

Lemon Date Bars:  Makes 16 bars
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home

2 Cups chopped pitted dates
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water

1/2 margarine or butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
1 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350*
In a saucepan, combine the dates, lemon juice, and water. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

In a bowl, cream together the margarine or butter and brown sugar. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the oats and mix well, using your hands. The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed. Press two-thirds of the dough into an oiled 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Stir the date mixture and spread it over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the pan. Cut into 16 bars. 

Grilled Apricot Salad

1 1/4 lbs apricots, halved and pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1small head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced (optional...use more arugula or lettuce if you do not want to use radicchio)
5ounces arugula
1/2 pound Burrata cheese, sliced (or fresh mozzarella) 
4ounces shaved country ham
1tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

1) Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. 
2) Brush the apricots with oil and season with salt and pepper. 
3) Grill over high heat with the  cut side of the apricot down, just until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Let cool.
4) In a bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the 1/4 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. 
5) Gently toss in the apricots, radicchio, and arugula. 
6) Transfer to a platter and top with the burrata, ham, and vinegar. 

Apricot Bites 

8 apricots, halved and pitted
2 oz soft goat cheese
2 tablespoon honey
6 tablespoon pistachios, shelled and chopped (almonds would work, too)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A few basil leaves, chiffonade (basil rolled up like a cigar and cut crosswise)

1) Place the apricots, flesh side up, (cut side down) on a baking sheet.
2) Distribute 1 tablespoon of honey on all halves. 
3) Place on top rack of oven and broil on high until apricots begin to caramelize.
4) Remove apricot from oven and transfer to serving dish. 
5) Place about a tablespoon on goat cheese in each apricot half. 
6) Then, drizzle with remaining honey, sprinkle with pistachios, and sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on each. Finally, add a small piece of basil to each and serve immediately.

Rosemary Apricot Bars
from savory

For the rosemary dough:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1¾ cups all purpose flour

For the apricot filling:
2 1/2 cups apricots, pitted and diced
¾ cups white wine
¾ cup water
1½ tablespoons lemon juice (omit if using California dried apricots)
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brandy
pinch of salt

For the crumb topping:
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup pecans, finely chopped
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

1) Grease the inside of a 9x9 inch pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan.
2) To make the rosemary shortbread, cream the butter, powdered sugar and salt in a stand mixer or food processor on medium-high until light and fluffy. 
3) Add the vanilla and rosemary, then lower the speed and gradually add the flour until the dough is smooth.
4) Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Take some time to do this nicely so your layers are beautiful and clean. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6) Bake the shortbread for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Allow to cool to room temperature.
7) Make the apricot filling by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. 
8) Allow to cool and then puree in a food processor until smooth.
9) Make the crumb topping by combining all ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until the mixture is just combined and crumbly. Don't over-mix, you want texture.
9) Spread the apricot paste evenly on top of the shortbread. Make sure it's level.
10) Sprinkle on the topping evenly and gently press it into place. Again, make sure it's level; when you cut the bars you want three even levels.
11) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is brown. (You can turn the broiler on for a couple minutes at the end to get the top extra crunchy. If you do this, watch carefully to avoid burning)
12) Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Apricot Fruit Leather

2-3 pounds of fresh apricots
1 tsp. sea salt
Spices, to taste (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.)
Sweetener, to taste (raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc.)

1) Prepare the fruit: pit apricots, and cut into pieces.
2) Cook in a pot over medium heat with a little bit of water. Cook until fruit breaks down.
3) Process the fruit in a blender, food processor or through a food mill until the mixture is smooth.
3) Mix in the salt, spices and sweetener, to taste.
4) Line dehydrator trays (or baking sheets if using the oven) with sheets of unbleached parchment paper or Paraflexx/Teflexx.
5) Spread the fruit mixture evenly on the sheets. If the mixture is too thin, strain it through a tea towel or tight weave cheese cloth to thicken it up. 
6) Set your dehydrator (or oven) for 135 degrees and allow the fruit leather to dry for 8-24 hours. The exact length of time will depend on the thickness of the mixture, so be sure to check on it regularly.
7) The fruit leather is done when it is no longer sticky.
8) If using Teflexx sheets, peel off and place on parchment, aluminum foil, or paper. Then roll it up to store. If using parchment paper, simply roll it up once it is cool enough. 
9) Store in fridge for lasting freshness.