Dried apricots are poached in a spiced vinegar, stuffed with pistachios and mozzarella, and then wrapped in bacon for a simple, unforgettable party snack. The smoky-salty bacon plays perfectly with the pickled apricots, and the pistachios and mozzarella lend a nice textural contrast. All components can be prepped in advance, and assembly is fun and easy. I've only made them in the oven but I think they'd take beautifully to the grill. They also meet my criteria for the ultimate party snack: They're easy to pick up and eat in one bite while holding a cocktail! This recipe is infinitely adaptable, so feel free to play around. A few ideas: You could make a Spanish version by substituting Serrano ham for bacon, Manchego for mozzarella, and Marcona almonds for pistachios. Or substitute dried figs for apricots, pancetta for bacon, and fontina for mozzarella. If you or your guests have nut allergies, simply omit the nuts. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
Sweet, salty, and tangy, I thought the bacon might overpower the other ingredients, but the apricots hold their own with the help of the subtle pickling. The crunch from the nuts adds textural interest. The cheese seemed to get lost, so I'd consider the following: a feta or smoked cheese, a smoked almond, and/or some rosemary or tarragon, depending on the season. —SeasonToTaste
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, cut into thin slices (no need to peel, but scrub well)
2-inch pieces of orange peel
dried apricots (about 1 cup)
slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise (thinly-sliced bacon recommended; applewood smoked bacon, if available, is delicious here)
whole pistachios, shelled (or a slightly larger number of pistachio pieces)
2 to 3 ounces
fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, brown sugar, cloves, allspice berries, peppercorns, ginger root, and orange peel to a boil. Add apricots, and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the apricots are soft and plumped up but not falling apart; they should have a definite pickled flavor at this point, which will develop more fully as they cool. Remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature in the pan.
With a sharp paring knife, cut a small lengthwise slit on one side of each apricot, and gently pry them open. Stuff each one with a piece of cheese and a pistachio. Wrap a piece of bacon around each apricot; the bacon should overlap slightly (by about 1/2 inch) so they hold together once cooked. Trim the bacon if necessary. Transfer, overlap-side down, to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake the apricots until the bacon is browned and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate, put a toothpick in each one, and serve immediately.