Inspired by this story, a true tale of apple trees that can be traced back to none other than Johnny Appleseed (yes, he was real!), we are turning our attention to the fruit.
It's just about that time of year anyway, though in Florida that doesn't mean you can expect apple trees to start sprouting. It may mean more diversity in the apple aisle at your local grocery store, though. So load up Granny Smiths and Braeburns, Red Delicious and Gala, and go to town on these 10 different ways to work apples into your everyday cooking. Some are sweet, some are savory, all should help get you in the mood for fall.
Sage Chicken Thighs
Add 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs to a large skillet with a splash of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 6 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Return pan to heat and add 2 thinly sliced Gala apples, 1 thinly sliced red onion and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and stir. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and ½ cup chicken broth. Stir, then add chicken thighs back to pan. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Add more stock to the pan if it's all soaked up, then serve chicken with apple-onion sauce.
Kale Apple Almond Salad
Toast ¼ cup sliced almonds in a skillet until fragrant, then remove from heat and set aside. To a medium bowl, add 4 cups very finely chopped curly kale or baby kale, 1 diced apple and ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese; stir to combine. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add almonds to salad, then pour dressing on top and toss to combine. Recipe adapted from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Chai Spice Apple Chips
Heat oven to 200 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Core as many apples as you'd like — 1 apple makes about 2 cups apple chips. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the whole apple into rounds, then place those on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons each ground ginger and cinnamon; 1 teaspoon each ground cardamom, allspice, cloves and nutmeg; and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Sprinkle half the mixture over one side of the apples, making sure not to get too heavy with the coating. Bake the chips in the oven for about 90 minutes. Flip the apple chips over and sprinkle the other side with the rest of the spices; cook for another hour. Turn the oven off, and let the apples sit for another 30 minutes, then remove. They should be crispy.
White or red wine works for an apple sangria, but I prefer red this time of year. To make, thinly slice about 3 apples and place in a large serving container. Thinly slice 1 orange and add it, too, along with 4 whole cinnamon sticks. Add 1 cup apple cider or juice, and 1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine. Add ½ cup brandy, though if you want to skip this ingredient, it's not huge deal. Add ¼ cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and stir. Let this sit for up to 24 hours, but at least 2 to let the flavors marinate. When ready to serve, pour into individual cups and top with club soda. A cinnamon stick makes a fun garnish.
Skillet Apple Cranberry Pie
For this recipe, you'll need 1 pie crust, either storebought or your favorite homemade version. With that taken care of, make the filling for the skillet pie. Peel, core and slice 2 pounds of apples into ¼-inch thick slices. Place in a medium bowl and add 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon each salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add the apple mixture and ⅓ cup apple cider. Cook, tightly covered, stirring frequently, until most of the apples are tender but still hold their shape, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove lid and cook another 5 minutes, so liquid can thicken up slightly. Add ½ cup dried cranberries. Stir. Carefully place pie crust over apples, letting the edges hang out over the rim of the skillet. Ease the dough down, pressing it in gently where the apples meet the skillet. Trim the crust with a pair of clean scissors so that it is flush with the top rim of the skillet. Bake pie in a 425-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Recipe adapted from Sara Moulton, Associated Press.
Spiralized Apples and Yogurt
This is a fun twist on normal apple slices. Peel 1 medium apple. Then, using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, spiralize the apple. Add to a bowl with some fresh lemon juice and stir and set aside. In a small skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, 2 teaspoons quick-cook oats, 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon each cinnamon and brown sugar, and cook for about 5 minutes until butter melts and things start to get toasty. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add as much plain Greek yogurt to a bowl as you'd like, then top with nut mixture and apples and serve.
Apple, Fennel and Farro Salad
Use the same spiralizing technique as the recipe above, or just thinly sliced your apples for this lettuce-less salad. Use 1 red apple and 1 Granny Smith apple. Slice 1 medium bulb fennel and ½ small red onion the same way, then add to a medium bowl along with the apple. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 cup farro according to package directions. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then add to bowl with apple, fennel and onion. Add yogurt mixture and stir to coat.
This one's easy. Using 8 slider buns, layer on each one some cheddar cheese, a swipe of equal parts mustard and mayonnaise, leftover roasted turkey or sliced turkey from the deli, medium-sliced Granny Smith apples and some freshly ground black pepper.
French Onion Apple Soup
Start by caramelizing some onions. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large skillet. Slice 3 or 4 large yellow onions, then add to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 45 minutes until they turn a deep brown; stir often so they don't burn. Add 1 Pink Lady apple that's been peeled and julienned into small strips, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, ½ cup Madeira wine or dry sherry and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups beef broth and ½ cup apple cider, plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce and let simmer for 45 minutes. You can serve as is, or for a more traditional French onion soup, ladel into oven-safe serving bowls, and top each bowl with a slice of sourdough bread and some grated Swiss cheese. Broil until cheese melts, and serve. Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
Apple Granola Bars
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine ⅓ cup peanut butter, ⅓ cup honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Microwave for 1 minute until melted. Meanwhile, combine 1 ¼ cups puffed barley cereal, 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup finely chopped apple, ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries and ⅓ cup chopped pistachios in a large bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture, and stir well to combine. Press into an 11- by 7-inch baking dish coated with lots of cooking spray. Sprinkle sesame seeds and cinnamon on top (to taste), pressing both into the bars so everything sticks. Bake for about 15 minutes or until set. Cool completely, then remove from dish and cut into bars.