Kids are back in school, stores are already selling sweaters, coats and boots, and the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, drifting slowly to the ground in the cool breeze. These are all signs that summer is ending and that apple season is here. Growing up in the city, I only saw apples in the supermarket, and they were available year-round, but now that I live upstate, apple season is a big deal. Once Labor Day is behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to apples. September is when the majority of apples ripen, including the Honey Crisp, Gala, Red and Golden Delicious, Jonathan and the apples I grew up eating, the McIntosh. In October, the best baking apples will be ready including Fuji, Cameo and my favorite apple, the Granny Smith. But if the thought of cooking with apples only makes you think about sweet desserts, think again. Apples are delicious in savory as well as sweet recipes. Use this handy guide, Know Your Apples: Use the Right Apple for the Right Recipe, and then try these 10 delicious (no pun intended) ways to cook with apples.
1. Savory Dishes
Apples are not only for dessert; they can be the star of an amazing entrée or side dish. A favorite entree I make is my Tofu with Apple and Onion Relish. Cut a block of pressed and drained extra-firm tofu into 8 rectangular slices. Season ½ cup flour with 1 tsp. dried sage, 1 tsp. ground cumin and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Coat the tofu with the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 Tbs. vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu slices (in batches) and cook until they are browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the tofu to a 200 degree oven to stay warm. Add 1 large onion that has been chopped into medium-sized pieces and 2 sweet apples, cored and chopped into medium-sized pieces to the skillet. The onions and apples will both give off a lot of water so increase the heat to high and cook until the onion is wilted and the apples are golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes. Add 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar to the pan. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and cook until the vinegar thickens and becomes syrupy. Add 1 ½ cups vegetable broth and return it to a boil. Cook until the broth reduces to half. Remove the pan from the heat, add kosher salt and pepper to taste and whisk in 2 Tbs. vegan butter until smooth. Serve the tofu and top with the onion and apple relish. Add fresh chopped parsley for garnish.
For another delicious apple entree, try this Chorizo, Apple and Chickpeas with Fresh Kale and Cashew Sauce. My Potato and Onion Kugel with Sauteed Apples can be a hearty side dish or an entrée. Make them in muffin tins for individual servings.
Apples pair really well with cabbage. Toss slices of crisp, tart apples into your slaws for flavor and crunch. Try this Apple Slaw that tops a delectable Grilled Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy and be ready to be amazed. Play with your veggie peeler and make this Spiralized Veggies, Zucchini, and Kale Apple Slaw that has a red wine vinegar-Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Apples and cabbage are even more flavorful when the heat gets turned up. Try this dish of Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Beer, a recipe its creator says she enjoys with vegan sausages.
3. Salads and Dressings
Crisp apples add taste and texture to a salad and can pull double-duty in the salad dressing as well. Apple and fennel are a marriage made in heaven. My favorite apple-themed salad is my Apple, Cranberry, Arugula and Fennel Salad with an Apple Honee Vinaigrette. The spicy arugula, tart cranberries and anise-flavored fennel all fall into balance with the addition of sweet apples and a slightly sweet dressing.
To make the salad: combine 6 cups of arugula and 1 head of fennel that has been sliced in a bowl. Core 1 large apple and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the apples on the salad along with ¼ cup dried cranberries.
To make the dressing: combine 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. vegan honey, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth and mix into the salad.
This Arugula Fennel Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing is another take on this delicious combination of ingredients. Apples also add crunch to this Vegan Chik’n Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios.
Apples add texture and complexity to sandwiches. One of my favorite sandwiches is an Apple Pesto Sandwich. Slice some hearty bread like pumpernickel or multi-grain. Spread vegan mayo on one slice of bread and then top it with a layer of your favorite pesto. Sprinkle some toasted almond slivers on top of the pesto. Top that with some alfalfa sprouts and a few ¼” slices of McIntosh apples. Close it up with another slice of bread. Yum!
My other favorite apple sandwich is really a Panini and it also uses pesto. Between 2 slices of ciabatta bread, spread some of your favorite pesto and layer a few thin slices of my Gluten-Free, Vegan Turkey and a few thin slices of apple. Add some vegan mozzarella, close the sandwich up and heat it in a Panini press or in a skillet with a heavy skillet on top to press it down. This Panini is savory, crunchy, cheesy and delicious. For a raw treat, make these Raw Apple Sandwiches with Date Caramel and Almond Butter.
When you put “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” together with “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” you just know that having apples for breakfast is a healthy way to start your day. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to Pumpkin, Apple and Pecan Pie Waffles? Same goes for these Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup and these Apple-Almond Butter Pancakes. Sweeten up your morning porridge with this Pumpkin-Coconut-Apple Oatmeal Breakfast “Crumble.” Even if you have to grab breakfast on the go, this Cinnamon Apple Toast is a yummy meal you can carry with you.
6. Apple Sauce
Here is My Fast and Festive Apple Sauce. It’s rich, sweet from the apples and a little brown sugar, tart from a hint of lemon juice and delicious from cinnamon and cloves. It smells as wonderful as it tastes. You may never buy jarred apple sauce again.
Peel, core and dice the apples. Saute the diced apples in 1 Tbs. oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the ½ tsp. cinnamon and ¼ tsp. cloves. Cover the pot and let cook until the apples are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add water, if necessary. When the apples are tender, decide if you want to add sugar. If you do, start with ½ Tbs. of brown sugar and use up to 1 tablespoon. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1 tsp. of lemon juice. Let cool. Refrigerate if you want to eat it chilled.
My Curried Pumpkin Soup is spicy but balanced with sweet apple sauce. Saute 1 diced medium onion in a soup pot for 4 minutes or until translucent. Add 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbs. fresh grated ginger, 1 Tbs. curry powder and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and mix to combine. Add 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree and 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce. Stir to combine and cook for 3 minutes. Add 4-6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, ½ tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Let the soup come to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is silky smooth. Add 1 cup coconut milk and mix to combine. Heat the soup until it is warmed through. Taste for any seasoning adjustments and serve topped with Apple Croutons.
My Homemade Apple Croutons look really impressive but they are simple to make. Cut 2 large apples into bite-sized pieces. Spread ¼ cup brown sugar on a plate. Roll the apple pieces in the brown sugar until they are coated. Spread the pieces in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes until the apples are golden brown. Don’t let them get too soft. Remove them from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Set aside or keep refrigerated until you are ready to use them. Be sure to also try this amazing Acorn Squash Apple Soup for more warm deliciousness.
Mulled apple cider is a warm and spicy way to enjoy apples. To make my Mulled Apple Cider, add 6 cups of unfiltered apple juice and up to ½ cup maple syrup to a saucepan. Throw in 4 cinnamon sticks, 8 whole allspice berries, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, a pinch of ground cloves or 2 whole cloves, and the peels from a fresh orange and lemon. Bring it to a rapid simmer and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes. If you want to make an adult version, you can spike it with dark rum.
I love green juice. Apples are a crucial part of green juice for me as they are the only source of sweetness in my favorite combination of kale, cucumbers, green apples and spinach. Check out The Ultimate Green Juice Cheat Sheet for more green juice recipes that use apples. Continue this healthy drinking by putting apples in your smoothies. Make this Superfood Green Smoothie or this Raw Vegan Papaya Apple Smoothie. Cast your spell on someone when you serve them this Love Potion – a Red Beet, Pear, Orange and Apple Smoothie.
9. Baked and Cooked Desserts
Not all apple desserts require cooking but the ones that do are incredible starting with these Autumn Baked Apples. This recipe is all about apples, baked until soft and juicy, and stuffed to capacity with a mixture of oats, cranberries, ginger, orange zest, cinnamon, and maple syrup. If you love muffins, you must try these Carrot Apple Muffins, Apple Sultana Gingerbread Muffins and these Apple Cider Muffins. Soothe the cookie monster in you with these Apple Butter Cookies and these Frosted Apple Almond Butter Cookies. For me, I want a plate of these Apple Fritters with Apple Cider Reduction right now!
How many ways are there to make apple pies and tarts? Well, if you look on One Green Planet, you will see there are more than you thought possible. Apples play nice with other fruits and even gourds in this Apple Pumpkin Pie Tart, Maple Drunk Apple Pie, Pear Apple Pie, and Blueberry Apple Pie Cake. Cobbler enthusiasts will love these Cranberry Apple Cobbler Bars. Forget regular baking and try this Grilled Vegan Apple Pie and this Deep-Dish Apple Cinnamon Skillet Cake. Can’t decide between apple pie and cheesecake? Well, you don’t have to with this Apple Crisp Cheesecake. If you’re gluten-free, be sure to try this Apple-of-My-Eye Pie with Gluten-Free Crust.
If you prefer cake over pie, make this Festive Apple Cake and this Dried Apple Stack Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting. When you’re craving homemade bread, bake this Walnut, Squash and Apple Bread and this Apple Pie Swirl Multi-Grain Bread.
10. Raw Desserts
Desserts don’t have to be cooked to be delicious. Raw food lovers rejoice because we have plenty of apple-licious dessert recipes for you to go along with all the raw recipes linked throughout this article. Start with this Raw Vegan Caramel Apple Pie and then indulge in these Raw Apple Pie Cookies before trying yet another Raw Caramel Apple Pie. Last but certainly not least, feast on these Raw Caramel Apples that are coated in fresh pecans and then drizzled with chocolate sauce.
This may sound like a gazillion apple recipes but it’s only a sample of what you can find on One Green Planet and all you can do with apples. Whether you pick your own or buy your apples in the store, make any of these recipes for someone and you will definitely be the apple of their eye.
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Lead Image Source: Apple Pumpkin Pie Tart