Apricot Pistachio Oat Bars |

apricotpistachiooatbars_katieoffduty_2

The month of September is like fall’s version of New Year’s. It’s a time for new beginnings and a time for change.

Kids are going back to school, adults are drinking pumpkin flavored beer and everyone is busting out their cold weather gear. I—like most—am also starting to prepare for the transition of a carefree summer into cozy fall but, unusually, I am not starting with gourd flavored beer OR what I am going to wear.

One of my all-time favorite autumn activities is to bake Apricot Pistachio Oat Bars. With their vibrant orange color and subtly sweet taste, apricots embody how I think the transition of the season would taste.  A satisfying afternoon snack for kindergartners and 3pm conference calls alike, here is a healthy fall treat to enjoy no matter where you happen to watch the leaves change.

APRICOT PISTACHIO OAT BARS
1/2 cup shelled, salted pistachios
1 cup oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
12 apricots
1/2 a medium lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375F and line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a food processor or mixer, add the pistachios and blend for 15 seconds until the pistachios are reduced to a meal. Add the oats and blend another 15 seconds. Throw in the flour, brown sugar, salt and butter, then blend for another 15 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons water and blend again until the mix barely binds together. Reserving a heaping 1/2 cup of the mix, dump the rest of the mixture into the prepared baking pan, using your fingers to evenly pat it down to form the base of your bars.

Halve and pit the apricots. Move them to a large mixing bowl and add the juice and lemon zest as well as the sugar. Give a quick stir.

On top of the crust, arrange the fruit in the baking pan. Crumble the remaining pistachio-oat mix on top of the apricots and bake for 45 minutes. Immediately refrigerate the pan for an hour, then remove and cut into squares.

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