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In Season: 3 Ways to Use Apricots This Summer
IN SEASON

In Season: 3 Ways to Use Apricots This Summer

In Season Apricots

Apricots can be used instead of peaches.

Sweet, firm apricots are a sure sign of summer. The fuzzy fruit is often dried, which concentrates its nutrients, notably vitamins A and C. Local chefs are using the summer stone fruit in a few different preparations this month.

Baida Moroccan Restaurant

Dried apricots are a staple in Moroccan cuisine, so owners Abder and Assia Meskine knew they’d be using them at Baida Moroccan Restaurant, which opened on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis in 2013. Currently, Assia, who serves as executive chef, uses both dried apricots and an apricot sauce in her sweet couscous. “When we opened this restaurant, we were very, very worried – where are we going to find couscous?” Abder recalls. “Luckily, across from us we have Jay [International Foods]. Jay’s imports Moroccan couscous, so we found the [same] couscous we used in Morocco for our restaurant.” Couscous is often served with vegetables or meat, but sweet couscous is another traditional preparation. After it’s cooked as usual, Assia adds dried plums and apricots, which are reduced in apricot sauce, and tops it all with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Why is it so good? “By tradition!” Abder jokes. “The mix between the sweetness of the fruit mixed with the hot couscous is really very nice.”

Baida Moroccan Restaurant, 3191 S. Grand Blvd., South Grand Dining District St. Louis, Missouri, 314.932.7950, baidarestaurant.com

Café Trio

Executive chef Michael Giampetruzzi of Café Trio has loved apricots since he was young, although he says he doesn’t often see them in restaurants due to their short season. At Café Trio, which overlooks Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, dried apricots add a bright sweetness to Brussels sprouts. The sprouts are pan-seared and tossed with Burgers’ Smokehouse bacon, toasted almonds, julienned dried apricots and a cranberry compote for a hearty appetizer. The chef sources produce from local farmers’ markets as much as he can, and is glad to see fresh apricots as well as jams and preserves sold alongside the more readily available dried fruit. In the past, Giampetruzzi has also paired apricots – fresh and dried – with cayenne for a sweet and spicy vinaigrette to go with a frisée salad. “You can almost use [apricots] just like you would a peach; it’s very similar to that,” he says. “I think they could even be subbed out for them – you’ll get some tartness from the apricot, which can be offset by some added sugar or water in the recipe if tart is not what you're looking for.”

Café Trio, 4558 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.756.3227, cafetriokc.com

Bentley’s Restaurant & Pub

Clarence and Margaret Ziegler first opened Bentley’s Restaurant & Pub in Des Peres, Missouri, more than 40 years ago, which was followed by a second location a few years later in Olivette. In 1974, they moved the restaurant to Lake Ozark, where it has remained a favorite for decades. Their son, Bill, has kept it a southeastern Missouri mainstay thanks to dishes like the apricot-glazed chicken, which was added to the menu about two years ago, alongside indulgent dishes such as escargot, chicken Wellington and prime rib. To make the apricot-glazed chicken, executive chef Brad Russell lightly breads a chicken breast before sautéing it with peppers, onions and sesame seeds. He then adds a sauce of apricot preserves and soy sauce. “The chicken is light, and not having a lot of flavor by itself, it takes [the apricot] on pretty well, and they just complement each other,” Russell says. “I think [the flavors] just go hand in hand.”

Bentley's Restaurant & Pub, 3100 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark, Missouri, 573.365.5301, bentleysrestaurantmo.com

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