The produce section at our local grocery is already laden for fall. With autumn comes an abundance of apples.
Although they don’t get the same buzz as popular “superfruits” such as goji berries, acai berries or pomegranates, don’t overlook these healthy treasures. These crunchy wonders are chock-full of powerful disease-fighting nutrients.
While you can core or slice them, I prefer taking huge chomps from whole to gone.
Having grown up in apple-rich Minnesota and in a house with apple trees nearby, my recipe bank is full of apple ideas.
Worm holes? Turn the usable parts into applesauce. Bruised? Cut off soft spots and use in pie. Not juicy enough to tempt snackers? De-core them, fill with chopped spiced nuts and syrup, and then bake. Apple cubes are a great addition to bread or rice stuffings. Any variety of sliced apple adds a wonderful crunch to salads and sandwiches. Softer-flesh apples, like Yellow Delicious and McIntosh, make great applesauce or apple cider.
Speaking of apple cider, I’ve been wowing friends and family for years with my recipe for cider house vinaigrette.
I drizzle it over mixed greens, sliced apples, dried cranberries and walnuts. Pretty to look at, this hearty, seasonal salad offers the rich, robust flavors of fall. It’s made with an apple cider reduction where you slowly simmer the liquid, allowing the total volume to reduce to its essence through evaporation. Eventually the cider is reduced to the consistency of syrup.
To make it, boil 1 cup of apple cider in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cider is reduced to 3 or 4 tablespoons. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool completely before whisking in 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Easy peasy.
Let your creativity flow and incorporate the apple’s natural beauty into your fall table centerpiece. Hosting an autumn gathering? Let these fruits be the guide for guests. For place settings, you can carefully slit the stems and insert place cards with names.
For a buffet, use apples to identify dishes. Just add the name of the dish on the place card and set an apple in front of each dish.
This recipe for apple tart was inspired as a way to use a few leftover apples in the fridge.
And, it’s easier than apple pie.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist and blogger. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel or look for her blog at www.lynnkessel.blogspot.com.
QUICK AND EASY APPLE TART
1 whole sheet puff pastry, cut into halfs or thirds
1 apple, cored, halved and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
Place puffed pastry rectangles onto a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray. In a bowl, add apples, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
Arrange apples slices on the pastry rectangles in a straight line, overlapping as you go. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
Remove from the pan immediately and place on a serving platter. Serve plain, with caramel topping, whipped cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.