The Fresh Sheet…Apricots

When you think of summer fruit, a handful of more popular treats usually come to mind – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches…not many people tend to dwell on apricots. But I can’t get enough of them. I like them when they are just a touch tart. Sure, the perfume is nowhere near as heady; however, tart, firm apricots suit my too-impatient-to-ripen mindset. I fell in love with apricots long before I starting thinking about local food.

Now, when I go to the farmer’s markets (or my favourite local grocer), I don’t have to wait. They are succulent and perfectly ripe as I pluck them from my shopping bag on the walk home. Apricots are in season right now – don’t miss them! Of course, I still like a tart apricot every now and then. Amazingly, I have discovered a way to have the best of both worlds: ripe apricots roasted to sweet-tart perfection with a bit of lime juice. Apricots aren’t just delicious…they are also wonderfully nutritious. High in beta-carotene and vitamin C, apricots will help to support healthy skin, eyes and a strong immune system. They are even a source of sleep-inducing tryptophan. So if you are feeling drowsy on a lazy summer day, it might be the sun…or it could be the apricots. Sounds like exactly the kind of debate to have over an apricot bellini…

Summer calls for light, produce-forward foods but it doesn’t mean dinner need be light on flavour. This rather loose interpretation of the taco (well, it is in a tortilla!) is the perfect way to celebrate Food Day Canada. Full of local flavours, accented by a few friendly imports, this is the perfect light meal for patio sitting with friends.

Cumin Tofu Tacos with Apricot Lime Salsa

Serves 4

8 apricots, cut in half, stones removed (or roast up a huge batch because these are transcendent with vanilla ice cream)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided, plus wedges for serving
Almond oil, or another neutral high heat oil, for drizzling

1 350g package organic extra firm tofu
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp – 1/4 hot paprika, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
1 handful pea shoots

8 small white corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apricots, cut side up, in a small baking dish and drizzle with a bit of almond oil and lime juice. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes for still-firm apricots or 30 minutes for molten, gooey ones. You aren’t trying to get a full caramelization, just to intensify the flavours. Set aside.

Meanwhile, mix cumin, cinnamon, salt, paprika and olive oil with 1 tsp of the lime juice. Slice tofu block in half to produce 2 squares and then slice squares in half through the centre, horizontally, to produce 4 thinner squares. Rub with spice mixture and set aside.

Make Ahead: Roast the apricots and marinade the tofu the morning or night before!

When the apricots are finished, increase oven temperature to 375. Bake tofu for 15 minutes a side, until tofu is starting to crisp up slightly on edges.

Make the apricot salsa: place apricots in a bowl with onions, cilantro, a drizzle of almond oil and a tablespoon of lime juice. Mix through gently to combine or a little more vigorously to create more of a sauce consistency.

When the tofu is cooked, slice each square to make 6 strips. Assemble the tacos: place a small bunch of pea shoots on each tortilla, followed by a scoop of the apricot salsa, a slice of avocado and 3 tofu strips. Serve with a wedge of lime for squeezing.

Happy Food Day, Canada!

 

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