Seasonal Sprouts: Apples Galore!

by Kelly Dumke

Crunch…mmm…. crunch, crunch…mmm…crunch…12pm, Wednesday Seminar, Jaharis Auditorium…and a  familiar cacophony of crunches.  Some may attempt to stifle the sound in a quiet lecture hall, but really, everyone knows (and hears) that first crisp, juicy bite of a ripe apple. It’s the perfect welcome to both the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and, moreover, to New England’s apple season!

For those of you who are new to Boston, fall is prime time for apple pickin’.  There exists a seemingly endless variety of this juicy fruit each with a distinct taste, texture, and time of season.   From September and October’s snackable Honey Crisps and pie-loving Gravensteins to November and December’s all-purpose Golden Delicious and salad-friendly Cortlands, the varieties are endless.

Boston’s nearby suburbs boast some of the finest orchards in all of New England.  Honey Pot Hills Orchard, known for its bountiful apples, seasonal fruits, and sinful cider donuts is a short ride away in Stow, MA, accessible by commuter rail.  Also, many nearby farms and orchards offer small fees allowing you to pick your own peck of apples. Check out this website to find popular orchards near you: http://www.applepickingboston.com/.   And below, try some of these sweet and savory recipes to use up your bounty.

Welcome to fall at the Friedman School where the normal daily buzz is a cacophony of apple crunching and the neighboring orchards are ripe for pickin’!

Baked Apples

This simple dessert uses the apple to the fullest extent: flavor, texture, and serving vessel.  This is one simple technique to bake and stuff apples, but the flavor combinations are endless.  Follow this simple outline, but definitely mix it up with your favorite additions: granola, oats, nuts, peanut butter, nutella, dried fruit, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon…or whatever your apple-loving heart desires.  This warm dessert is perfect paired with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ cup brown sugar

6 apples, any variety (Golden Delicious are great for baking)

2 Tbs. butter, cut into 6 blocks

1 cup water or apple juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar in a small bowl. 

Core the apples, but do not puncture the bottom.  Fill each cavity with the cinnamon sugar mixture and top with a teaspoon of the butter.  Place apples in a casserole dish and pour water or apple juice around them.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes.  Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and perhaps a drizzle of caramel sauce!

A Creamy Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Combining two seasonal fall flavors, this soup blends savory butternut squash with sweet apples and gets an added kick from curry spice and creamy feta cheese.

Ingredients

1 ½ Tbs Olive Oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. curry powder (optional)

1 butternut squash (~2.5 pounds, peeled and chopped in 1 –inch pieces

2 large apples, any variety, chopped with peel

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 cups vegetable stock or water (you can also add a splash of white wine)

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for about 4 minutes or until onions start to brown slightly.  Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in curry powder, squash, apples, salt, and pepper.  Sauté vegetables together for about 5 minutes, until the squash starts to brown.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is very tender.

Cool soup slightly, and puree in a blender, with a food mill, or in a food processor.  While pureeing, add feta and blend until creamy.  Return to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.  Garnish with a sprinkle of extra feta and a dash of cinnamon, if desired.

Apple, Cranberry, & Goat Cheese Salad

This simple salad combines some of fall’s finest flavors with honey-mustard balsamic vinaigrette and cinnamon-candied nuts.

Ingredients

For the Salad:

8 cups fresh spinach

2 Cortland apples, chopped with skin (Cortlands are great for salads because they do not brown as easily)

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Cinnamon-candied nuts (Recipe Below)

For the dressing:

1 tsp honey

1Tbs grainy Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, minced (or even a 1 Tbs chopped red onion)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, combine spinach, apples, and cranberries.  In a separate bowl, combine Wisk together all ingredients for the dressing.  When ready to serve, toss salad with vinaigrette and top with crumbled goat cheese and candied nuts.

Cinnamon-candied Nuts

1 Tbs. butter

¾ cup chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts work best)

1Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp cinnamon

Dash of salt

In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Toss in nuts and coat with the melted butter.  Add sugar.  Add vanilla, cinnamon, and salt (your kitchen will smell amazing at this point). Toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally so the nuts don’t burn.  Cool and top salad!

Cheddar & Apple Grilled Cheese

An update on a classic!

Ingredients

Two slices of fresh, crusty bread

½ crisp apple (any variety), sliced thin

About 1 ounce extra sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced

Handful of fresh arugula

½ tsp. grainy Dijon mustard

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions

1.  Place half the slices of sharp cheddar on one piece of the bread.  Top with sliced apples.

2.  In a separate bowl, combine arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper.  Place atop the apple slices and top with remaining slices of cheese.

3.  On a preheated grill pan, George Foreman grill, or sauté pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.   Place sandwich and grill or pan sauté until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted on both sides.  Enjoy this update twist on the classic grilled cheese!

For more apples ideas and recipes, check out my blog at www.51porter.com.

Share your favorite apple recipes by commenting below!

Kelly Dumke is a second year nutrition communication student and aspiring chef at heart.  Seasonal Sprouts is a column dedicated to exploring new and local ingredients, testing new recipes, and highlighting the culinary side of Friedman!

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