Mama mia – fa caldo qui! (Man, is it hot here!!) Summer is in full swing here in the eastern US. And with the heat, lighter meals are in order. Thankfully, the treasures of the summer garden have arrived. The local markets have piles of beautiful eggplant, onions, corn, tomatoes and the omnipresent zucchini. My own garden makes the weeknight meal a breeze. Just a short trip out beyond the garden gate and dinner is practically at the ready. The last of the peas are practically tripping me as I pass by – hoping to be picked as an offer of mercy from the summer heat. The tomatoes are coming in in full swing. Although summer blight abounds from overabundance of June rains, the branches are heavy with fruit more valuable to me than gold. Do I pick the last of the rainbow swiss chard or the beets? And I have enough parsley and basil for pestos well into the fall. I am so incredibly grateful for these wonderful gifts of nature.
This past weekend, I stopped at one of the local orchards, Solebury Orchards, whose tables are laden with fresh peaches, apricots, and blueberries this time of year. With a huge score of all of the above, I proceeded to come home and taste each and every basket, peck, bag. I waddled around the yard for hours after :o). Last evening, I was looking for a light dessert to serve after dinner given our heat index was close to 100. My little pile of apricots smiled at me as I passed and dessert was born. This is such an easy and versatile dessert and is a delight on a warm summer’s eve. Feel free to substitute peaches. Change up the brandy or omit. Serve ice cream alongside instead of ricotta. Drizzle with balsamic. Sprinkle with mint or basil. Serve the fruit in a glass with a crisp cool white wine poured atop. So many choices! Whatever you decide, stay cool wherever you are and enjoy.
Grilled Apricots with Ricotta Cream
(Albicocche alla griglia con crema di ricotta)
- Olive oil
- Biscotti (optional)
- Dark chocolate (optional)
For the ricotta cream:
- 1 cup of part-skim ricotta
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat outdoor grill or grill pan over medium heat.
- Slice apricots in half and remove pit. Lightly brush with oil.
- Place the apricots on the grill or grill pan. Grill a few minutes per side until the apricots are slightly softened – about 5 minutes in total. (And leave them alone once you place them on the grill so they get those beautiful grill marks!)
- Place the grilled apricots in a shallow dish and drizzle with a hefty dose of brandy. Allow to sit for a bit.
- Meanwhile make the ricotta cream. Mix the ricotta with the vanilla and honey until blended.
- To serve, place a large scoop of ricotta cream on a plate. Top with the grilled apricot. Crumble a biscotti over top. Drizzle with honey and shave a bit of chocolate on top.
- That’s it – ready to serve!