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APRICOT, BACON MAKE EXCELLENT TART

Fresh apricots have a delicate fuzzy skin that is an inviting pale yellow-orange color. Each bite erupts with juicy, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

Spanish explorers originally brought apricots to North America from China, and now about 95 percent of the fruit grown in the United States comes from California, according to the California Apricot Council.

When apricots make it to Florida stores, as they do this time of the summer, it's best to snap them up and start cooking.

Serve this savory apricot tart with feta, onions and bacon as an appetizer or a light lunch.

Apricots have a fairly high acid content, and when cooked they became quite tart. For this dish, they are sliced thinly and spread sparingly atop the cheese mixture.

The tart is free-form, meaning that the dough isn't fit into a tart pan. It's just left in its rolled-out shape to be filled.

After filling the tart, fold up the ends to make a thicker crust, then brush a milk-egg wash on the dough and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese around the edge.

DESSERT

Savory Cheese and Apricot Tart

1 prepared, uncooked single- layer pie crust

5 strips of bacon

1 medium onion, diced to 1/4- inch pieces

2 cups crumbled feta cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Juice of half a lemon

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large or 4 small apricots, pitted and thinly sliced

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup coarsely grated Par- mesan cheese

- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set the oven rack in the middle.

- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust dough into a 14-inch circle. The dough should be very thin. Carefully transfer the dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate.

- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain the fat and cool for several minutes. Reserve the bacon fat from the pan.

- When the bacon has cooled, coarsely chop it and set aside.

- Place 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat into the skillet and heat over medium- high. Add the onion and saute until translucent and slightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside. If the onions are cooking too quickly, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water and lower heat.

- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the feta cheese, chopped bacon, onions, rosemary, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and spread the cheese mixture over it, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all around. Fold the border over, covering some of the cheese mixture. The tart is free-form, so you don't have to worry about a perfect circle.

- Arrange the apricot slices over the cheese mixture. In a small bowl, use a fork to beat the egg and milk. Use a pastry brush to dab the folded edge of crust with the egg-milk wash. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the crust.

- Bake the tart for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

- Continue to bake the tart until the dough is cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes. If the Parmesan cheese starts to get too dark, cover the edges of the tart with strips of foil.

- Cool the tart on a rack before serving. Serve slightly warm.

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