Thursday, February 10, 2011

Putting the "Ape" in Apricot

Grilled Apricot and Balsamic Salad:
Apricots can be a little mushy and bland when ripe, but grilling them not only brings them back to life but adds a tangy punch. I find that apricots are a highly underrated fruit, mostly finding their place in jellies and preserves. But because of their small size and meaty texture, I thought they were the perfect way to spruce up a seemingly boring salad. The combination of the sweet yet sour balsamic dressing and the rich bite from the fruit takes this salad from zero to hero. Adding candied pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese also didn't hurt!

What you'll need: 
  • 2 small ripe apricots
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 package of baby spinach 
  • 1 package of spring mix (typically a combination of baby lettuces and greens, sometimes endive, radicchio, types of romaine, dandelion... ingredients vary)
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of candied pecans
  • Small package of mild goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of fresh ground black pepper, dried basil, and oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • Dash of salt and pinch of brown sugar (both optional)

Recipe: Yields four small side salads
  1. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and grease with cooking spray
  2. Cut apricots into small wedges and place on grill, about 1-2 minutes on each side
  3. Pull off grill and drizzle lightly with honey
  4. In a large salad bow, mix the spinach, spring mix, cranberries, and pecans together.
  5. Combine vinegar, oil, spices, brown sugar, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl and whisk heavily
  6. Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly
  7. Serve the salad onto plates, drop in little bits of goat cheese, and place the honeyed apricots on top to finish
  8. Enjoy!

Tenacious Tips: 
  • Any meaty fruit will work in this salad. Pineapple, peaches, and nectarines are all really good choices to throw on the grill. I chose apricots because of their size and ripeness!
  • If you aren't a goat cheese lover, a feta or even a pungent blue cheese would also be nice.
  • Be light on the dressing. The apricots pack a little extra juice and you don't want to overwhelm the flavor of the apricots with thick dressing. Whatever dressing you don't use, just cover with plastic wrap and throw in the refrigerator.

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