My impulse purchase at the grocery store today was some apricots.

Once upon  time, apricots – along with plums – were my most favorite summer fruit.  That, of course, was in the days before huge agri-farming where everything became grown for mechanical harvesting and shipping and not for flavor.

I did produce-buying for a gourmet food distributor once upon a time.  I wandered the produce markets at 4am looking for new, fresh, and vibrant.  I still have a fairly good eye for some things even after all these years.  Seeing the apricots, I was slightly skeptical because I haven’t gotten a good apricot at a grocery store since moving here.  The apricots I espied did look nice – and they were ripe.  They had a nice blush to them.  I went for it.

Sadly, they didn’t taste quite as good as they looked.  They weren’t totally bad, they just weren’t really good.  Too dry and just not sweet enough.  They weren’t for eating-out-of-hand, but I knew I could turn them into a savory dinner.

I had made pesto earlier in the day and wanted to incorporate the pesto – made with pistachios – into dinner, as well.

Grilled chicken breasts were born!  I sauteed red onion with a bit of olive oil and then added the sliced and unpeeled apricots.  I wanted to add a bit of sweetness, so I added about a tablespoon of honey.  Not just any honey, though… I used Mount Rainier Fireweed Honey that our friends Bonnie and Print gave us a while back.  It has a really unique honey flavor that worked perfectly with the onions and apricots.  And then, just for grins and giggles, I added one dried chile pepper that I crumbled into the skillet. It added just enough balance to the sweetness of the honey.

And the pesto…

It is pretty much a traditional pesto, but I used pistachios instead of pine nuts.  They added a fun and unique flavor while at the same time staying true to the pesto flavor.  You know it’s different, but it’s a subtle difference.

Pistachio Pesto

  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 packed cup basil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place everything but olive oil into food processor and process until smooth.  With machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Refrigerate  or freeze.

So…

For dinner, I grilled the chicken breasts.  I brushed them earlier with olive oil and then salt and pepper.  I purposely didn’t add any other seasonings because I knew the toppings were going to be quite powerful.

When the chicken was done, I spooned on the basil and then topped it with the apricots and onions.

The sweet potato was boiled and mashed with just butter, salt and pepper.  Again, I didn’t want too add any more competing flavors.

And it all came together just as I hoped.  The garlicky nutty basil complimented the sweet and barely spicy apricots and onions.  The simplicity of the potatoes actually made them stand out on the plate.  And the grilled chicken was the vehicle to pull it all together.

Even being less than perfect, the apricots came through, although I probably won’t be buying too many more unless they’re local.

And in other news…

The Pasta Issue arrived today!

Victor will soon be back in the kitchen working his way through the entire magazine!

He decided to change the day from Monday to Sunday to allow himself more time to create.  Besides, we’ll be able to get the family over a bit more often to share in the fun.

Look for this to start in September.

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