Raw Summer Foods

Two raw food desserts in a row… it must be Summer. Looking back in my archives I noticed I have a record of making a lot of raw or almost raw desserts and salads this time of year. Besides the fact that there is an incredible amount of fresh produce at our fingertips in the Summer, I think my reasoning for cooking more raw, is that the days are warmer and food just tastes so much better in its natural state. Not to mention that less cooking also means more free time outside, who doesn’t want that?

I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that our backyard came with a fruiting cherry tree. A very huge, old cherry tree. The cherries are just now starting to turn a bright red, (most at the top 25-foot canopy) but we tested one out the other day and it’s some kind of sweet variety. It needs some major pruning and cleaning up, from years of neglect, but we’re hoping to harvest some of the cherries for ourselves before the birds get to them. In the mean time cherry and stone fruit season in Washington has been a little earlier than usual, so I’ve been picking up what I can from the market.

Like many people, I don’t usually get quite as excited about apricots as I do peaches and nectarines, but I just couldn’t resist. I picked up a couple pounds and brought them home, soon realizing I was going to need a way to prepare them that was going to use them up in quantity because they were perfectly ripe and ready. Inspiration came when I saw the last bit of cherries left over in the fridge, not enough to make a whole dessert, but not quite as plump and beautiful as they were the day I purchased them to enjoy eating. I thought I could make a sort of jam by pureeing the cherries and combining them with chia seeds, and it worked. For some reason the photos don’t show the chia seeds as much as in real life, but they really helped to gel the cherries and when topped with fresh apricots and drizzled with a mint honey glaze, it became not just a dessert, but a decadent breakfast as well.

raw apricot and cherry jam tart

Raw Apricot & Cherry Jam Tart / serves 6-8

The cherry jam in this recipe is not really a traditional jam. The chia seeds act as a pectin gelling the blended cherries together. If you happen to have a jar of real cherry jam you can probably use that too, however it most likely won’t be completely raw.

for the crust
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
pinch of salt

for the filling
4-5 fresh apricots
1/3 cup cherry jam, recipe below
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

cherry jam
1 full cup fresh sweet cherries (I used Bing), pitted
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons chia seeds

Place the almonds in a food processor and blend until they become a coarse crumble, but no large bits left. Add the coconut and salt, then while processor is still running add the dates one at a time until the dough pulls together into one mass. It should all be well blended and there maybe a few slightly larger pieces.

Press the almond mixture into a 7 or 8-inch spring-form or tart pan (line the bottom with parchment first for easy removal, but not necessary). If using a spring-form pan, estimate about a 1/4-inch to 3/16-inch lip up the side to hold in just enough jam and the apricot slices. Place the crust in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can also make the day before.

For the cherry jam place the pitted cherries, honey, and chia seeds in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Combine the honey lemon juice and mint in a small bowl. If honey is not runny enough to blend, warm slightly with the lemon juice in a small saucepan until you can easily mix together, then stir in mint, set aside. Cut the apricots in half, remove the pit and slice into 1/4-inch thick wedges.

Remove crust from the fridge, spread in the cherry jam right up to the edge, you’ll have some left over. Arrange the apricot slices in a spiral starting from the outside. Using a pastry brush, top the tart with the honey mixture. Place tart in the fridge for another 30 minutes or so and serve chilled. Best on the first day, but will keep in the fridge for several days or you can prepare the crust and jam ahead of time and assemble before serving.