Food has the power to transport me. To change my mood and to close the distance between loved ones and me. I eagerly await late spring/early summer every year, for one farm's fruit: apricots from Frog Hollow Farm.
I wasn't very old when my great grandmother passed away, six at the most. The only memory I have of her is of her rose garden. My sister and I had played tag and hide and seek amongst the roses and showered rose petals everywhere. I don't remember if she was amused or angry. I only remember two firsts that came next. My first ice cream sandwich sitting with my great grandfather on the back steps of their house staring off into the rose garden and my first apricot. I've loved both ice cream sandwiches and apricots ever since.
In July 2011, cubes and I had the opportunity to support The Chez Panisse Foundation and The Edible Schoolyard Project and to dine under the stars at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, CA. The owner of Frog Hollow Farm, Al Courchesne, and his family greeted us and kicked off the evening. As Al stood in front of us in his blue overalls and smiled, I saw my great grandfather and was transported back in time the first apricot I shared with him. Now I look forward to the start of spring, keeping an eye out for Frog Hollow Farm apricots. The end of the season is always a little bittersweet because it's another ten to eleven months before I'll be surrounded by rose petal snow and the warmth of my great grandfather's love.
We eat a lot of apricots for breakfast, sliced and paired with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. This year I've been on a mission to introduce more fruits and vegetables into the rest of our meals. This simple salad takes the sautéed tomato and onions topping I typically serve on top of steaks and pairs it with apricots, avocado, and spinach.
Recipe: Apricot and Avocado Spinach Salad
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Dressing (makes 32 ounces):
- 1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup crystals (can substitute light brown sugar)
- 8 spring onions, cut in half moons
- 32 ounces Dirty Girl Produce Organic Canned Tomatoes with Sea Salt, drained, and cut in wedges
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the pan
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk the first three ingredients until well incorporated and set aside.
- Warm large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to coat the pan. When oil is warm, add the onions. Stir infrequently -- every three minutes or so -- as you want the onions to caramelize.
- After about 5 minutes, or when onions are starting to become translucent, add the tomatoes and Balsamic Soy Sauce mixture. Stir until onions and tomatoes are coated thoroughly.
- Cook until you can smell the tomatoes, approximately 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Toss spinach, apricots, avocado, and about 1/2 cup of the sautéed tomato and onions. Serve immediately.
Recommended Pairing: Viognier
Apricots pair beautifully with Viognier. Why? Because the fruit aroma commonly associated with the viognier varietal is apricot. cubes and I paired our apricot and avocado spinach salad with La Crema Bennett Valley Viognier. Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, La Crema Winemaker, describes the wine as: "Strikingly fragrant, the 2012 La Crema Viognier offers up generous aromas of honeysuckle and ripe apricot. The lush palate is beautifully balanced by a crisp acidity, expanding with layer upon layer of juicy tropical fruit and just a hint of sweet spice." In this dish, the apricots and balsamic vinegar brought the apricot notes in the wine forward and the creaminess of the avocado balances the acidity.
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Disclosure: I am a regular contributor to The La Crema Blog, and La Crema sponsors content on this blog. This post is not sponsored.