One of the great culinary pleasures of fall is the new crop of apples arriving in the marketplace. We have apples year-round, of course, but these are the leftovers from the previous fall crop. Over time they lose their crisp texture, which I find one of their most pleasing attributes.
Apples provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, helping with both diarrhea and constipation. Soluble fiber also feeds gut bacteria and actually promotes biodiversity in the colon, supporting digestive health and immune function. Raw apples supply vitamin C, a smattering of B vitamins and a few minerals. Interestingly, apples also supply both omega-3’s and -6’s. We tend to think that fats are an exclusive group found only by themselves when they are actually sourced in meaningful amounts in vegetables and fruits.
When we look for creative ways to use apples we almost exclusively find dessert recipes, all of which are enticing and most of which use large quantities of sugar. Cutting back on sugar is one of the most important steps we can take to promote our good health.
Eat your apples raw when possible, and add them to salads and savory preparations that still satisfy sweet cravings. Add sliced apples and red onion to a pan of browned pork chops or pork tenderloin. Cook some German sausage links with apples and onion. Pork and apples are a match made in heaven. Add some red cabbage wedges — but don’t overcook it. Just wilt the cabbage for best flavor and texture.
Apple Salad with Blue Cheese
6 cups butter lettuce
3 apples, cored and diced
¼ cup finely diced red onion
½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans
Crumbled blue cheese (substitute feta)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss the lettuce, apples, and onion in a salad bowl.
Whisk together the mustard, salt, vinegar and syrup. Continuing to whisk rapidly, and add the oil in a thin stream to create the emulsion. Toss with the salad, and garnish with toasted nuts and crumbled cheese.
Serve with a fresh grind of black pepper.
Slow Cooker Applesauce
3 lbs apples, such as Jonathan, McIntosh, or Fuji
½ cup apple cider
Pinch of sea salt
Core and dice the apples. No need to peel — that’s where the fiber is, just in and under the skin.
Place in a slow cooker with a pinch of sea salt and the cider. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until very tender.
Use an immersion blender to lightly puree, or place in a blender to process in batches. Don’t over-blend — leave some texture to make it more interesting.
Optional: Add a star anise pod, a couple of cinnamon sticks, one clove if you like. Remove before blending.
Fort Collins chef Linda Hoffman teaches cooking classes emphasizing dinners in 30 minutes or less. Visit comebacktothetable.com.