Tag Archives: apples

Apple & Cheddar Salad

There has been a lot of rain and gray skies this past week.  The upside: I’m welcoming the arrival of boots-and-sweater weather. The downside: It makes me want to hibernate.

More specifically, it makes me want to EAT ALL THE FOOD.  I have to keep telling myself that it’s not time for my once-a-year Fettuccine Alfredo indulgence. The idea of eating green vegetables is less than exciting, unless they are folded into a casserole of macaroni and cheese.  But vegetables must be eaten.  More exercise must take place, too, but let’s just focus on one thing for right now.

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I committed myself to making a salad today for lunch. I’ve talked before about my special relationship with salads.  I’ve even admitted to being seduced by a salad.  Once again today I was struck by how the process of making a salad makes me feel.  Preparing lunch for myself is different than cooking dinner.  It’s leisurely.  There’s no concern about pleasing anyone else.  This is special Sarah time.  As I was mincing shallots and toasting sliced almonds, I felt like I was engaging in some sort of ritual to take care of myself.  You know in chick flicks when the woman recovers from heartbreak by lighting candles, pouring a glass of wine, and running a bath?  That’s oddly what this felt like.

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The foundation of this salad was a mix of spring greens in my fridge that needed to be used, some apple, and good sharp Cheddar.  It didn’t need much beyond that.  I decided to throw some toasted almonds on there for some extra crunch (and fiber and protein).  When it came to the dressing, I whisked together a tiny bit of minced shallots, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar with some olive oil. Seasoned the greens with salt, tossed in the dressing, topped with the sliced apples, coarsely grated Cheddar, and almonds.

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So, this is pretty much a standard fruit-nut-cheese salad formula.  You could change out the almonds for walnuts or pumpkin seeds, or the cheddar for blue cheese or Gruyere.  I used Ambrosia apples because that’s what I had on hand, but I think Pink Lady or Honeycrisp (my favorites) would work nicely, too.

 

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Last Week’s Dessert: Rustic Apple Tart

Finally the rain has let up and the temperature has dropped (although tomorrow is supposed to be pretty warm for October).  I’m enjoying the sun and crisp air.  I can have the windows open and A/C turned off.  I can wear sweaters and boots.  And I can find apples that were actually grown in the US, not New Zealand.

Last Sunday, Nick cooked chili and cornbread for dinner.  I was hoping he would be willing to write about it, but he hasn’t seemed inspired.  I can’t blame him.  His chili is fantastic, but it’s probably one of the most free-form things he cooks.  Consequently there isn’t necessarily a lot to share in the way of a particular recipe, or anything close to a recipe.  It occurred to me when we were shopping that he either is doing some secret math in his head (knowing Nick, that seems unlikely), or intuitively knows the right ratio of beans and meat to tomatoes.  I’d be too worried about ending up with tomato soup with beans, or a thick lump of beans and ground beef with barely any tomato-ness to it.  But somehow Nick pulled random stuff off the shelves at the store and out of our pantry at home and successfully cooked chili that was a perfectly balanced mix of beans, ground bison, crushed tomatoes, peppers, and spices.  And bulgur.  And bacon.  And coffee.  And chocolate.  And dried cherries (which re-hydrated themselves in the chili… interesting).

Oh,  and the cornbread?  Cooked in bacon grease.

So, I guess it’s a good thing that the rustic apple tart recipe I made for dessert turned out to be from Cooking Light.  I actually didn’t notice that until I was well-into baking.  That’s the risk of Google searches, I suppose.  You never know where it’s going to take you.  Kind of like when I learned that searching for “Indian Delight” will take you to different websites than searching for “Indian Delight Restaurant.”

Anyway, this tart is not exactly fat- and calorie-free, but I guess when you compare the amount of sugar and butter to that in an apple pie, and the fact that it uses one pie crust instead of two, it really is on the lighter side, as apple desserts go.

Rustic Apple Tart (from My Recipes)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

3 pounds of apples, cored, peeled, and sliced; should yield about 9 cups (I used 4 Gala apples and 3 Granny Smith apples)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 package (one crust) of refrigerated pie dough

1 tsp ice water

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp apricot preserves

1 tsp water

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, stir until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes (my sugar didn’t really dissolve… I mean, it doesn’t have much butter to dissolve into.  But it didn’t seem to cause any problems).

Stir in apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cover, reduce heat, and cook about 20 minutes, until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and set rack to lowest third.

Place dough on parchment paper, and roll out to 14-inch round.  Slide parchment paper and dough onto baking sheet.  Arrange apples in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border.


Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal.  Brush edges of dough with 1 tsp ice water and sprinkle with 1 tsp granulated sugar.

(I got a little obsessive about making concentric circles with the apples… but it looked really pretty.  Also, I had a lot of extra juice in the skillet from the apples.  I drizzled some of it over the apples.  It did leak a little while baking, but hey, it’s rustic.)

Bake tart for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Microwave apricot preserves and 1 tsp water for about 30 seconds or until bubbly.  Stir mixture and brush over warm tart.

Cut into wedges and serve warm or room temperature.  (Obviously with vanilla ice cream.)

I apparently got too excited about eating it, and I don’t have an after-baking picture.*  But I do have this picture of Matilda helping Mike clean his plate, which is both cute and provides evidence that everyone enjoyed it.

*If you’re really that devastated about the lack of an after-baking photo, just look at the pre-baked photo, and imagine it a little more golden-brown.  There, you have an after-baking photo.

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