Eating seasonally, in the moment is the best. Organic Blenheim apricots appeared at my back door, a gift from a friend, still warm from the summer sun. This fragile fruit needed to be consumed ASAP. So I bring a Summer Salad of Apricots, Lentils & Triple Cream Cheese, a summer jewel.
These delicate, blushing apricots are the Blenheim variety, “the pinot noir of apricots” organically grown, happily in my friend’s garden. This mature tree was planted I believe when her home was built in 1920’s and since this is agricultural country, I can imagine this tree came from the older original stock. The variety is all but disappearing in California. At B&R Farms the Blenheim lives on.
To honor this fruit, I wanted a fresh in the moment salad, one that would satiate, supplying a light summer meal. Of my hundreds of cookbooks my mind recalled a luscious salad made using plums from Nigel Slater’s cookbook Notes from the Larder. I thought of using apricots. At first I thought of including avocado, backing off due to the richness of the cheese.
If you have not discovered Nigel Slater, here is why I adore his cooking and take on food. Nigel insists he is an “amateur cook”, a cook who writes. Yes, there is even a play about his growing up with food adapted from his memior. I love his understated manner and whole heartedly agree that there is “something quietly civilizing about sharing a meal with other people.” It is a sign of respect, as I was raised, to share the simple act of making something to eat-everyday beauty as I see it, from our kitchens. My beloved memories are those of creating and sharing food with others, family, friends and sometimes even strangers.
This simple, but lovely salad pairs the lentils, with the sweet nose of apricots and grounded by the creamy texture of triple cream cheese. Taking bites, combining these three elements creates a trio of taste options: the lentils with a smudge of cheese, or the sweet apricots with creamy lemon of the lentils, or the apricots touched with the creamy cheese. For summer simplicity, the lentils may be prepared ahead, then easily compose the salad by slicing the apricots and cheese, then plate. A sprinkle of lovely lemon balm from the newly planted garden finishes the salad.
Eating seasonally is always a little jewel.