When throwing a dinner party or hosting a brunch, it's always a challenge to find the right flavors to highlight. If you're looking for something different and unexpected for your next soiree, consider adding dimension to your meal by using the flavor of apricots to highlight your favorite dishes.
Dried apricots work especially well when served during cocktail hour or as part of your spread of hors d'oeuvres. Simply set out a platter or bowl of dried apricots along with some other Middle Eastern delights, like figs, pistachios, or dates. Apricots showcase a musky sweetness with just a bit of tartness, which pairs especially well with the buttery crunch of nuts and the richness of fruits like figs or dates. The flavor is somewhere between that of a peach and a plum, making it a unique fruit to serve at parties.
If you have fresh apricots on hand, you can also make a creamy dip that's great for enjoying with fruit or crackers. To make, simply blend together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and fresh apricots until smooth. Add in some chopped dried apricots to punch up the flavor. Set out in a bowl with a variety of foods for dipping, like apple slices, pretzels, fresh pear slices, cookies, or crackers.
You can also make a savory apricot goat cheese dip by blending together a Serrano chili, two ripe apricots, a bit of fresh mint, one cup of goat cheese, 3/4 cup of yogurt, two tablespoons of chopped dried apricot, and two tablespoons of sliced toasted almonds. Serve with skewers of olives, vegetables, or cocktail toasts.
Dried apricots also work well when tossed into salads. If you're serving up a light salad as part of your dinner party or brunch, try mixing together fresh and dried apricots, feta cheese, and sliced almonds with spinach or other leafy greens. To punch up the apricot flavor, make a homemade apricot dressing by pureeing fresh apricots with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, and seasonings of your choice.
Dried Apricot Compote
You can also use dried apricot to make a flavorful compote that's perfect for serving with a variety of dishes. It can be served on its own as a spread, over fresh fruit, or with yogurt as part of your cocktail hour festivities or after dinner. To make it, all you need are a few ingredients from your pantry:
Start by bringing together 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups of fresh orange juice, and 2 tablespoons of honey to a boil in a small saucepan.
Add 1 cup of sliced dried apricots and a 1/2 cup of raisins and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the fruit becomes tender and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook - keep the definition in your fruit.
Remove the apricots and raisins with a slotted spoon and reduce the sauce for about 2 minutes to thicken.
Remove the sauce from heat and add the apricots and raisins back in. Then add a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.
Serve warm or chilled, depending on your preference.
Apricot compote also works well at brunch, as it can be used to top pancakes, waffles, or French toast.