Get Creative with Apples

Apples aren’t the most popular fruit in America (that honor goes to the humble banana), but they’re a close second. And right now, while this year’s apple crop is abundant at farm stands and supermarkets, is the best time to discover what you can do with them.

I often use apples in savory dishes like salads, and not just the well-known Waldorf. They’re great when finely chopped and mixed into tuna salad along with celery and red onion, or thinly sliced and arranged on top of a spinach salad. They also make a fine addition to potato salad. I make a particularly colorful one combining purple potatoes, diced apple and chopped scallions with a coarse mustard seed dressing. For tuna salad, I find a crunchy Fuji works best; I prefer the yellow-skinned Crispin, also called Mutsu, for the spinach and potato salads, because it boasts a softer, less sweet flesh that’s more harmonious in those dishes.

There are also the “cooking apples,” of course, which are delicious when sautéed because their natural sugar caramelizes. They go so well with onions that I sometimes sauté a big skillet of sliced onions and apples in canola oil, season it with thyme or rosemary, and store it in the refrigerator. Then, over the next several days I’ll use this aromatic and naturally sweet combination in several ways. One day, I’ll sauté boneless pork chops, set them aside, and warm up some of the apple-onion combo in the same pan, adding a splash of apple cider. Then next day, I might combine them with beaten eggs to make a fine frittata, topped with shredded Fontina cheese. Next day, I’ll chop up what is left, combine it with mashed potatoes, then form the chunky mixture into patties and brown them until crisp on both sides in a lightly oiled frying pan. These go fabulously with roast chicken or a pan-cooked turkey burger.

Using apples in desserts is even easier. In this crumble, I combine two or three varieties – often juicy, sweet Cortlands with firmer Granny Smiths and a Johnagold, with lots of spice.

Ginger Apple Crumble - Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

4 large, sweet cooking apples (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 Tbsp. lightly packed brown sugar, divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped candied ginger (see note)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Low-fat vanilla ice cream, if desired

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the apples in the baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, all of the ginger and all of the vanilla. Using two forks or your hands, toss until the sugar dissolves and coats the apples.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, remaining sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter and blend into the dry ingredients, using a fork or your fingertips, until the mixture is fluffy and resembles sand. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.

Bake the crumble 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling, the apples tender and the topping is browned. Set aside 20 minutes to cool slightly. Divide the crumble among 4 dessert bowls. Serve (topped with low-fat ice cream, if desired.)

Note: For the ginger, use the candied ginger not coated with sugar crystals, or rinse the ginger to remove the excess sugar and pat dry with a paper towel before chopping.

Per serving (without ice cream): 230 calories, 6 g. total fat (4 g. saturated fat), 43 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 3 g. dietary fiber, 55 mg. sodium.

The Author:

"Something Different" is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR's Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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