Past the narrow, Vespa-laden cobblestone street; through the regal, heavy wooden door; and beyond the terra cotta thatched roof, thrives a sky-consuming tree bestowing juicy orange gems of apricots upon the backyard garden of my aunt, who happily resides in Florence, Italy—a familiar yet refreshingly foreign city to me since the age of three. Enzo, the mild-mannered northern Italian who shares the apartment with my aunt, happily climbs into the fruit-speckled canopy and shakes the branches as I scramble underneath the torrent of apricot missiles to catch them in a bowl without smashing their delicate flesh. Descending from the tree, Enzo smiles warmly into the bowl of summertime beauty before leading me into the kitchen, cutting a fresh apricot in half, and sharing with me one of nature’s great pleasures—a just-picked piece of impeccably ripe fruit, harvested straight from the backyard.
Since my family decided to forgo our semi-annual Italian adventure this summer (due to the astronomical expense of my soon-to-commence college experience), I’ve missed out on the amusing experience of video-game-like fruit catching followed by a succulent, blissful reward. Luckily, though, apricots abound not only in the backyards of Florentine apartments, but also in my hometown of Madison. This week’s farmers market boasted the first of summer’s apricot harvest, in which I happily partook—admittedly, however, picking up a pint of ready-to-eat fruit proves much less satisfying than undergoing the thrill of a fresh apricot rainfall.
While perusing my now 25-page-long Word document entitled “Recipes to Try” in search of culinary apricot implementation, I came across a gorgeous recipe for Raw Apricot Lavender Biscotti from G0lubka. Contemplating that the recipe resembled a granola bar and recalling that I had just run out of my last batch of granola that morning, I borrowed the idea of coating grains and seeds in an apricot-date puree to create this summery new granola, rife with crunchy clusters of fruity flavor. While most granola recipes specify stirring in dried fruit after baking, I opted to add the raisins before transferring the recipe into the oven, causing the raisins to plump up and adopt a uniquely toasted taste.
I deeply lament that fact that I had no lavender on hand when creating this recipe, since my mental tastebuds positively salivated at G0lubka’s genius idea of incorporating the delicate edible flower. If you happen to have lavender, you can omit the cardamom and add either 1 tbsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh lavender buds—let me know how this variation turns out for you!
Apricot Raisin Granola (Soy Free, Nut Free)
Makes about 10 cups.
- 12 fresh apricots, pitted and quartered
- 5 dates, pitted and soaked for 10-30 minutes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup raw buckwheat (soaked and sprouted is recommended)
- 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (soaked and sprouted is recommended)
- 1 tbsp lucuma
- 1 tbsp maca
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/8 tsp ginger
- 1/2 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Place the apricots and dates in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a smooth puree. Add the coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients (oats through raisins) until well combined. Pour the apricot puree over the dry ingredients and stir until evenly coated.
Divide the mixture between two or three baking sheets lined with parchment paper and spread evenly over the sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, stir, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator.
Local Ingredients: Apricots from the Door County Fruit Market.
Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.
Comment Provoking Questions: Do you have any fruit trees in your backyard? Have you ever been to Italy? What’s your favorite way to enjoy apricots?
Until next time, Ali.