Six Apple Recipes, from Savory to Sweet
Few things signify the start of the autumn season as much as apples. Whether making a day out of picking your own in an orchard, or just taking advantage of the bounty of a local farmer’s market or produce stand, these fall months are when we always seem to have more of this fruit on hand than we know what to do with. But the apple can be much more than a solo act, working as a versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes.
The crisp notes of apple can add a touch of sweetness to a savory and spicy soup, or be baked with sherry vinegar and squash for a side dish that’s bright without being sugary. And, of course, who can forget dessert? Apples play great with cranberries in the form of a crisp and as the star of the show in the classic dessert, tarte tatin.
Make sure to click through for a bonus cocktail, the Jack Rose (made with the classic French apple brandy, Calvados) and pairing tips to make sure you have the right wine for every dish.
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This flavorful squash soup from James Beard award-winning Chef Rick Bayless gives warmth to any dinner. Apples bring a bright note to the nutty flavor of kuri squash, while ancho chilies add mild heat and a touch of smoke. Bayless is the proprietor of Chicago’s Frontera Grill, Xoco and the Michelin-starred Topolobampo. He recently opened a Chicago brewery and taqueria, Cervecería Cruz Blanca, as well as Leña Brava, which features the largest Mexican wine list in the United States.
- 1 medium kuri squash, about 3 pounds (may substitute sugar pumpkin)
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar, to taste
- Dried apple chips, for garnish
- Fried thyme leaves, for garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
Peel squash, chop off stem end and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop seeds into small bowl and reserve; pull out stringy fibers. Chop squash into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups.
In medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add seeds and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden and seeds start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add chili pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 1–2 minutes. Add squash, apple, pepper, cinnamon and 1 quart water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
Ladle into blender, being careful not to fill all the way and working in batches if necessary, and blend until completely smooth. Pass soup through medium mesh strainer set over pot. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Divide among bowls. Top with apple, thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm. Serves 8.
A glass of bubbly poured from a magnum ensures all will participate in a holiday toast. J Vineyards & Winery’s 2009 Vintage Brut is a California sparkler that offers flavors of Granny Smith apple and strawberry, and a strong vein of minerality. The wine’s freshly baked bread note complements the slightly sweet flavor of squash, while lively acidity will hold its own against the heat of the chilies and the brightness of the apples.
A touch of Sherry vinegar adds a soft, bright note to keep the dish from tasting too sweet. Green pumpkin seeds add crunch and color.
- 3 acorn squash, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 6 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 8 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place squash and apples in enameled cast-iron (or other nonstick) roasting pan. Drizzle butter on top. Toss with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 375˚F. Remove aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes to brown apples and squash.
When squash and apples have about 5 minutes left to bake, heat a cast-iron or copper skillet to medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast 3 minutes, stirring them to avoid scorching.
Remove squash and apples from oven. Drizzle with Sherry vinegar, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Transfer to serving dish or serve in roasting pan. Serves 12.
Apples, the country’s second-most-consumed fruit after bananas, hold a special place in our culture. They’re a symbol of Americana, everywhere from apple pie to the Big Apple. In the kitchen, there’s no end to their versatility. They show equal affinity with sweet, sour, spicy and meaty flavors, while apple cider and brandies (like applejack and Calvados) show the fruit’s appeal in the glass. Apples may not keep the doctor away, but they can’t hurt.
Fun Facts About Apples
Le trou Normand (“the Normand hole”) is a French tradition where diners take a sip of Calvados during a long meal to restore appetite.
The heaviest apple ever picked weighed more than four pounds.
As Chinese as apple pie? China produces almost 10 times more apples than the U.S..
Apples originated in Kazakhstan. The only variety native to North America is the crabapple.
Steve Jobs took his inspiration from a visit to an orchard when he named Apple.
Dan McCaffrey is wine director at The Marc in Walla Walla, Washington, where both apples and grapes thrive.
“With fresh-cut apples and cheese, I’d choose an earthy Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy like the 2015 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, with a silky texture and red fruits that blend with both the crisp and rich flavors,” McCaffrey says. “For whites, the vanilla, caramel and apple notes of a buttery oak-aged Chardonnay like the 2014 Mer Soleil Chardonnay Reserve roll perfectly in.
“For apples in salads with vinaigrette, I’d pair an unoaked Chardonnay, or one just lightly kissed with oak, like the 2015 L’Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay. And for traditional apple pie, I feel that botrytized wines, and sweeter Rieslings and Gewürztraminers, complement this American tradition.”
The Jack Rose Cocktail
- 2 ounces apple brandy
- ¾ ounce grenadine
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe.
Courtesy Sunny Jin, chef, JORY at The Allison Inn and Spa, Newberg, Oregon
- ½ cup canola oil, divided
- 6 lamb shanks, bone-in
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Spanish onion, diced
- 2 leeks with tops, trimmed, cleaned and diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups Pinot Noir
- 4 cups lamb stock (or substitute chicken or vegetable stock)
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, stems removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns Maple-glazed apples (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 375 ̊F. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in oven-safe pot over high heat. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add shanks to pan in batches, if necessary. Brown well, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside. Drain oil from pot. Add remaining oil, onion, leeks and carrots. Salt lightly, and cook until very dark and nicely caramelized. Add tomatoes, scraping browned bits from bottom of pot. Cook 5 minutes, lowering heat if vegetables start to char. Add wine, scraping bottom of pot again. Reduce mixture by half.
Return lamb to pot. Add stock and, if necessary, just enough water to cover shanks. Add thyme, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns. Cover pot, and cook in oven 2–3 hours, turning shanks halfway through. Check periodically and add more water, if necessary. Remove lid during last 15 minutes to brown lamb and reduce sauce until thick. Lamb should be tender, but not quite falling apart when finished.
Remove shanks from pan. Strain liquid through fine-mesh sieve. Return shanks to liquid. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with maple-glazed apples. Serves 6.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 Granny Smith (or other tart) apples, peeled, quartered and cored
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon
- ½ cup maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
Heat butter, bay leaf and cinnamon in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add apples, and cook until lightly brown. Remove pan from heat. Add Bourbon, and return to low heat. Cook about 1 minute to let alcohol evaporate. Add maple syrup and salt. Cook apples until tender, but still holding their shape and liquid reduces to glaze. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick before serving.
As it cooks, the cranberries bleed into the filling, giving a gorgeous color and even better flavor. The assorted apples used here can be a mix of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, which works great if you don’t have a big selection. Others that work well include Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Jonagold, Empire, Orin, Braeburn and Cortland.
- 4 pounds assorted apples
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter
- 7 tablespoons flour, divided
- ¾ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup rolled oats (also called “old-fashioned” oats)
- ¾ cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Peel and core apples, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside. Cut butter into small cubes, and set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. In food processor, pulse butter, 4 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, salt, oats and nuts until just holding together, but still chunky. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine apples, cranberries, sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, juice and zest with your hands. Transfer to 13” x 9” baking pan (or 3-quart casserole dish). Make sure cranberries don’t all fall to bottom. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over top, covering filling without packing down.
Bake for 1 hour, or until topping turns deep brown and juices bubble. If topping starts to burn, lay aluminum foil loosely over top. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. Serves 8–12.
On the sweeter side of cranberry—dishes such as apple-cranberry crisp—Reggie Narito, master sommelier and wine director for LA’s new 71Above restaurant, turns to Banfi’s Rosa Regale NV Brachetto d’Acqui. “This fizzy red displays bright cherry and cranberry notes with crisp acidity and just a hint of residual sugar.”
Both simpler and more impressive than apple pie, Tarte Tatin was developed in the 1880s by the Tatin sisters of Lamotte-Beuvron, just south of Orléans. Use a mix of apples, or try it with an equal amount of pears.
Domaine des Baumard 2011 Clos de Sainte Catherine Chenin Blanc (Coteaux du Layon)
- 6 baking apples, like Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Gala and Jonagold, peeled, quartered and cored
- 8 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pâte brisée (pie dough), unbaked
- Whipped cream or créme fraîche, for serving
In large bowl, sprinkle apples with 2 tablespoons sugar. Toss to coat. Let sit for at least 1 hour, draining accumulated liquid. In 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt butter and remaining sugar, swirling gently to evenly coat pan (don’t stir). Add apples in tight concentric circles, balancing on their edges. Fit as snugly as possible (reserve 1–2 quarters to cut into smaller chunks to fill gaps). Let cook, without stirring, until juices thicken, darken and smell “caramelly” without smelling burnt, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Roll dough into circle about 12 inches in diameter. Drape over apples, folding and tucking around edges to fully contain apples. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Place serving plate atop tart. Carefully turn over pan to release tart onto plate (if any apples stick, rearrange by hand). Serve warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream or créme fraîche. Serves 8.
Loire Valley sweet wines are the product of misty mornings and sunny autumn afternoons, which produce noble rot. They have just the right balance of sweetness, dry noble rot character and intense acidity. While they do age, it’s hard to resist the delicious fruit of a young wine.
Pairing this tarte tatin with a selection like Domaine des Baumard’s 2011 Clos de Sainte Catherine from Coteaux du Layon is an exercise in food-and-wine harmony, where each mirrors the flavors of the other while displaying simultaneous richness and freshness.
- 1Kuri Soup with Ancho and Apple
- 2Roasted Acorn Squash & Apples with Pan-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 3What’s the Best Wine to Pair with Apples?
- 4Pinot-Braised Lamb Shanks with Maple-Glazed Apples
- 5Apple Cranberry Crisp
- 6Tarte Tatin (Caramelized Apple Tart)