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Eat this! Dried apricots, intense and golden

Steve's apricot-glazed chicken and green beans with dried cherries feature on the deli's Rosh Hashana menus.

What it is: Small, golden-orange fruits, apricots (Prunus armeniaca), are stone fruits, members of the rose family along with peaches, plums and cherries. The fresh fruits are delicate and highly perishable. When dried, their flavor intensifies, and they have a long shelf life. They’re high in beta carotene.

The golden color of dried apricots is preserved by processing with sulfur dioxide, and they are often plumped in sugar syrup.

Where it comes from: Sun-drying is one of the oldest methods of preservation and goes back millennia. Turkey is the largest producer apricots, followed by Iran and Pakistan; 90 percent of the U.S. crop grows in California. Originally from China, apricots arrived in Europe via Armenia, hence their Latin name.

What to do with it: Dried apricots make a great snack, on their own or diced and mixed with raisins and nuts. Add them to salads. Reconstitute them with boiling water and add them to couscous, quinoa or other savory dishes. Steve’s Deli in River North shares a “home cooks version” of the apricot-glazed chicken appearing on its Rosh Hashana menu. It’s simple enough for everyone, especially during the busy High Holidays.

Steve’s Deli’s baked apricot-glazed chicken

1 emvelope onion soup mix
3-1/2 pounds chicken, cut up
1 cup whole dried apricots
1 16-ounce bottle Italian dressing
1 12-ounce jar apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the onion soup mix across the bottom of an oblong baking dish. Arrange the dried apricots and chicken pieces on top.

Pour the Italian dressing over the chicken, then spread apricot preserves over it. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, basting occasionally. Remove the foil and then place back in oven for 20 minutes. 4 to 6 servings.
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