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Dried fruits are a wonderful part of heritage diets around the world. You’ll find them stirred into pilafs and grain salads, simmering in rich stews, topping oatmeal and porridges, and folded into baked goods for a treat. They are also delicious on their own!

Historically, dried fruit was used in ancient cultures as a means of preserving fresh fruit so that it could be enjoyed year-round. It also sustained people on long journeys, as it was long lasting and, without its water content, more energy-dense than fresh fruit. 

Though most of us won’t be harvesting and drying our own fruit these days, dried fruit remains a delicious staple in our kitchens. Incorporating it into our meals provides us with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and iron. It is naturally sweet on its own, so when shopping, look for varieties without added sugar. 

Which dried fruits do you keep in your pantry? Read below for some delicious ideas for every meal!


millet with zucchini and chickpeas

Raisins are dried grapes, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors—black raisins, golden raisins, currants, and more. Two types, black and golden, feature in this Asian-inspired trail mix recipe, which is enhanced with spices including anise, ginger, and Szechuan peppercorns. 

In this Millet with Zucchini and Chickpeas recipe from the African Heritage Diet, raisins complement the warm flavor of curry powder and the hearty chickpeas and whole grain, millet

For a treat, try these Peanut Zucchini Muffins, which get natural sweetness from golden raisins. They are also baked with whole wheat flour and Greek yogurt for added nutrition. With zucchini season fast approaching, this is the perfect treat for summer!


granola displayed on a parchment-lined baking sheet

Apricots have a sweet-but-tart flavor that pairs beautifully with both savory and sweet dishes. For a breakfast or hearty snack that will last the whole week long, try making this Buckwheat and Apricot Granola. The sweetness of the apricots contrasts with the nutty flavor of buckwheat.

Bring the flavors of North Africa to your kitchen with this Chicken and Chickpea Tagine with Apricots. Tagine is a slow-cooked stew, often served over couscous or other grains. We like to pair this version with bulgur wheat.

This cozy Sweet Potato Puree gets a dash of extra sweetness from the addition of dried apricots. With fragrant orange zest, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and a dash of allspice, this is not your average sweet potato casserole!

Have you ever cooked okra with apricots? This traditional Cypriot recipe sautés the okra alongside onions, tomatoes, and apricots (dried or fresh) until tender. It’s a delicious vegetarian side dish that shines a spotlight on summer produce.


Breakfast Quinoa

Figs were one of the first foods ever cultivated by ancient people, and fortunately for us, today they’re easily available in the grocery store. Where to begin? Check out the resource we created with our friends at Valley Fig Growers, 12 Great Ways to Use Dried Figs. A few slices can elevate a grilled cheese sandwich, provide an elegant topping for a dish of hummus, or dress up a pasta dish of sauteed squash ravioli and herbs. 

Cheese and figs go together quite naturally, too. Add a few figs to your next cheese board. They are a perfect match for Manchego cheese from Spain, or blue cheeses from all over the world. 

Of course, figs are a great way to add fiber and vitamins to your breakfast. We love this Breakfast Quinoa with Figs and Honey, a twist on the classic oatmeal breakfast. 


Dates are especially prominent in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. The date palms’ ability to thrive in desert oases made it essential to the nomadic Berbers who first inhabited Morocco, over 2,000 years ago. 

Around the world, there are hundreds of kinds of dates. Many people puree, soak, and/or cook dates to use in place of sugar, for natural sweetness with a boost of fiber. (In our Sugar Swaps resource, we recommend making a “date caramel”—soaking dates in hot water for an hour, and pureeing to make a sweet, caramel-like sauce!) 

divina strawberry salad

However, there are also plenty of ways to enjoy dates in their whole and chopped form. Our friend Dr. Simon Poole, a British doctor and Mediterranean diet proponent, gave us this recipe for Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini & Feta Bake with dates.

Dates and olives? It’s a Mediterranean match made in heaven! Our friends at Divina have a delicious recipe for Summer Strawberry and Feta Salad brings together dates with Kalamata olives.  

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes provide delicious, rich flavor to many dishes, and you’ll often find them used in southern Italy and Sicily. When dried in the sun, tomatoes lose most of their water content, which concentrates their flavor.  

bowl of polenta on a table topped with fish and greens

This Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta Bowl with Greens and Herb Baked Fish is a delicious, quick dinner for busy nights. A spoonful of sun-dried tomato pesto transforms the polenta into an extra-flavorful base for this meal.

For your next summer cookout, bring this chilled Garbanzo Bean Salad recipe from Mooney Farms, featuring sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. Simple to make and portable, it’s also a great work lunch or picnic side dish. If you’d like to take your veggie burgers to the next level, try these elegant Millet Burgers with Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pecorino.

Which dried fruits will you be cooking with next? Tell us in the comments!

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