Chances are, you’ve probably got some dried fruit in a corner of your cabinet that’s begging to be used. I’m making it a goal to use up my raisins, dried apricots, and prunes before all the summer produce arrives — early growing seasons around the country mean that strawberries are already out in full force, with nectarines and apricots close behind. Here are some warm-weather recipe ideas using up these decidedly wintery ingredients!
- Morning Muesli: When it’s warm out, a bowl of muesli makes for a refreshing breakfast, especially when it’s nice and cold from an overnight soak in the fridge. Add a handful of dried blueberries, raisins, or cranberries to your bowl the night before for soft, juicy fruit, or sprinkle it on just before serving for a chewy texture contrast to the softened oats. This muesli recipe uses dried cherries, as well as hazelnuts, another winter pantry staple.
- Make a Fruit Compote: This was one of my favorite desserts growing up. My mom always used a bag of mixed dried fruit, but any variety works. Soak smaller dried stone fruits (apricots, prunes, pluots) in water overnight in the fridge, and add a cinnamon stick if you’ve got one — the spice will permeate all of the fruit as it soaks up the water. Serve the cold compote over vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert, or with Greek yogurt for a high-protein afternoon snack.
- DIY Trail Mix: This one’s a real no-brainer. Warm weather means it’s hiking season — I’m looking forward to lots of trail time with my husband and our dog this summer. If you’ve already got dried and fruits and nuts around, there’s no need to buy premade GORP. Just toss together your favorites, chopping up larger dried fruits so they’re the same size as the other ingredients.
- Cocktail Time: Whether you’re hosting a fancy shower or brunch, or just want a cocktail to laze away a warm summer morning, a homemade peach purée means you’re one step away from Bellinis, the belle of the brunch cocktail lineup. Steep dried peaches in warm simple syrup until hydrated, then purée in the blender or food processor. Add lemon juice to taste, then mix with chilled champagne just before serving. The purée can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, or frozen in ice-cube trays and stored in freezer bags for up to two months.
- Apricot Ice Cream: Back in 2008, Kitchn reader Stephanie submitted a gorgeous recipe for Grand Marnier Apricot Ice Cream with Almonds. It’d be a perfect spring-to-summer dessert — she hydrates dried apricots in the liqueur (how luxe!), then blends them with the ice cream base, which includes sour cream for a refreshing tang.