We went apple picking on Saturday and got a little carried away. It was a day that captured the essence of Autumn in New England: that "snap" in the air that puts color in your cheeks; the reds, oranges and yellows of fall foliage just like in a picture postcard; and apple trees weighed down with deep red, ready-to-pick fruit. We just meant to pick a few…and now we have so many apples we hardly know what to do with them all.
Somebody had the bright idea of making a whole dinner featuring our apple haul, to really celebrate fall. So when Sunday turned out to be cool and rainy and just right for cooking, we decided to prepare an apple-ceantric feast. Here's the menu.
We'll begin with a cup of Curried Carrot & Apple Soup. (As one reader commented online: "The apples raise this soup from very good to superb.")
Then we'll have Roasted Apple & Cheddar Salad (see full recipe below). This salad has lots of greens, too, and a vinaigrette dressing that includes a little apple juice.
Hard Cider-Braised Lamb Shanks (we'll be drinking hard cider with the meal, so there will be plenty on hand for cooking with too). For our vegetarian friends, we can make Apple, Sauerkraut & Cheddar Quesadillas.
There are so many apple options for dessert that it will be hard to choose (find apple pies, apple crisp, apple cupcakes, caramel apples and more here). Maybe we'll let Roasted Apple Butter bubble away in the oven all afternoon and dollop it on vanilla ice cream to finish our meal with a flourish.
Speaking of getting carried away… After that very special apple menu, if we want to have fresh apples to put in everyone's lunches this week-we'll have to go pick some more!
Roasted Apple & Cheddar Salad
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 40 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate dressing (Step 2) for up to 1 week.
Roasted apples and Cheddar cheese turn an ordinary mixed green salad into something extra-special. You can use pears for this recipe as well.
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Roasted Apples & Salad
2 apples, preferably Fuji, peeled and cut into wedges
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups baby spinach or torn spinach leaves
3 cups torn Boston lettuce
3 cups torn curly endive
2/3 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. To prepare dressing: Whisk vinegar, apple juice, 1 tablespoon oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3. To roast apples & prepare salad: Toss apples with 2 teaspoons oil and thyme in a medium bowl; spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until the apples are soft and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Discard fresh thyme, if using. Let cool.
4. While the apples are roasting, toast walnuts in a small baking pan until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
5. Just before serving, combine spinach, lettuce and endive in a large bowl; toss gently to mix. Divide the greens among 6 plates, drizzle with dressing and top with cheese, roasted apples and walnuts. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each.
Per serving: 191 calories; 14 g fat (4 g sat, 5 g mono); 13 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber; 172 mg sodium; 230 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (40% daily value), Fiber & Folate (15% dv).
What's your favorite way to cook with fresh-picked apples?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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