16 June 2013

Apricot Salad with Cumin-Orange Vinaigrette

This is hardly a recipe. It's more of a suggestion for flavor pairings to bring out the best that fresh apricots have to offer. Apricots are the highlight of this salad because it's their season to shine and I wanted to celebrate them in an actual recipe rather than eating them whole, often while standing over the sink with juice dripping down my chin. Now, there is nothing wrong with enjoying them this way. It is, after all, one of life's small pleasures. But taking the time to work them into a recipe where you must plan ahead to source the ingredients, then prepare the dish, draws out the anticipation and prolongs the enjoyment.

Whether it's a meal with family or friends, a special life event, or a holiday, the preparation for and anticipation of an occasion is a significant component in actually enjoying the event. And just another way life and food mingle together to teach us great lessons, preparing a dish, however small the task may be, is good practice in patience and realizing immediate gratification isn't always the most gratifying.

There are many flavors with which apricots pair well such as chocolate, cinnamon, orange, cumin, rosemary, and mango. But I especially love how this sour-sweet fruit with creamy, floral and tropical notes are complimented by earthy cumin, orange, and toasted almonds in this salad. Punchy goat cheese is the final addition that brings it all together. I used Marcona almonds because I love their salted and deeply toasted, olive oil flavor. But if you cannot find them, simply dry-roasting whole blanched or slivered almonds until golden brown will also be delicious.

This salad serves 2 large or 4 small portions, but if you're making this for one or would like to have the salad a few different times over the course of several days, simply mix the vinaigrette separately in a small jar and store in the fridge and drizzle over the salad as needed. 

Apricot Salad with Cumin-Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 2-4

Cumin-Orange Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. orange juice (~ 1/4 orange)
Heaping 1/4 tsp. cumin
Drop of maple syrup or honey
Pinch of salt
Lots black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to the bottom of a serving bowl. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Couple large handfuls arugula (or baby greens like baby spinach/maché)
4 firm, ripe apricots
Handful Marcona almonds (or deeply toasted whole or slivered almonds)
Goat cheese, to taste

Cut apricots in half and slice each half in thirds. Just before serving, add apricots and arugula to the vinaigrette, toss to coat. Sprinkle almonds over tossed salad and crumble goat cheese on top, to taste.

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