Fall Apples

How do you like them apples?

There is no doubt that there is a lot to love about fall, with its colored leaves, brisk breezes, and burnished hillsides. But, for those who love food, the true treasures of fall are in the tastes. And to me, fall tastes like apples. This is the season when you can find apples of every variety and in all their finest forms: cider, dumplings, butter, pies and of course, straight up – crisp and juicy eaten out of hand.

Apples are one of the most versatile of fruits, shining in both sweet and savory dishes. They are just as delicious cooked as raw and lend themselves to all manner of heat treatment; baking, sautéing, boiling, even grilling (refer to sidebar). No matter your personal apple preference, fall’s bumper crops ensure you can delight in the all-American favorites as well as experiment with new varieties and recipes.

Did you know that new varieties of apples are continually being developed? Apples are bred from existing varieties in an attempt to create unique flavors and enhance crispness and disease-resistance. The Cornell Agricultural Experimental Station located in Geneva, NY has a robust apple-breeding program that has developed several star varieties including Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, and Macoun. Several years ago they released two new varieties of apples, the SnapDragon and RubyFrost, which were over 10 years in the making.

Through selective breeding, these apples have been developed for taste, juiciness, and crunch in addition to disease resistance and favorable shelf life. SnapDragon comes from Honeycrisp parentage and is lauded for its spicy-sweet flavor and exceptional crispness. RubyFrost is described as being extremely juicy with a nice balance of sweet and tart.  Its name reflects its beautiful bright red skin. Though originally only found at select farm stands, they are now widely available in many grocery produce departments.

Either of these new varieties would work well in this savory-sweet apple recipe (as would any firm-tart apple) which was inspired by my memories of eating apple pie as a kid. Apple pie in my family was rarely served a la mode but rather with a large chunk of cheddar cheese. The tangy bite of a sharp cheese is a perfect complement to the syrupy, spiced apple pie filling. This quick and easy apple pie quesadilla allows you to enjoy this yummy flavor combination without the heaviness and calories of a pastry dessert. And because the quesadilla is not overly sweet it makes a great afternoon snack for kids or an easy lunch or brunch dish.

The recipe calls for unpeeled apples in order to retain as much of the nutritional goodness of the apple as possible, given that the fiber and antioxidant content of apples are found primarily in the skin.  I encourage you to try this recipe or one of your choosing; maybe you’ll find new ways to love this most classic of fruits.

 
Apple Pie Quesadilla

Apple Pie Quesadilla

Both savory and sweet, this quesadilla is a perfect appetizer or satisfying quick lunch!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large Granny Smith or Rome apple (or another firm-tart cooking apple, preferably organic)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar approximately 3 oz.
  • 1 10" flour tortilla

Instructions
 

  • Core the apple and cut into 1/4 inch slices. In a medium sauté pan melt butter over medium heat. When butter bubbles lightly add sliced apples and cook without moving apples for 2 minutes.
  • In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a small pinch of salt and stir to combine. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over apple slices. Stir gently to coat and let apples cook another 3-4 minutes until apples soften and are golden in color, but still retain their shape. Add lemon juice, stir lightly to combine and remove from heat.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spray with vegetable oil pan spray and lay the tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle cheddar cheese evenly over the entire surface of the tortilla. When cheese just begins to melt slide apples onto one half of tortilla distributing evenly and including any juices.
  • Gently fold tortilla in half bringing side with only cheese over the side with apples on it. The outside of the tortilla should be golden in color. Cook another 30 seconds to make sure cheese is fully melted and then slide from pan onto a plate. Let cool slightly. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut into 4 triangular wedges.
  • Serves 1 for a meal or 2 for a snack or appetizer.