The Forbidden Fruit

We’ve all heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  In my opinion that is a pretty tasty prescription for nutrition.  We’ve also observed a life-long associated of this beauty being the symbol of “taboo indulgence” making it an interesting argument for convincing you to eat one everyday.

Nonetheless most people love apples and with so many benefits to your health, there is no reason to leave this “forbidden fruit” sitting on the grocery store shelf next time you go shopping.

Apples get the “super foods award” for being beautiful and intelligent.   With over 7500 varieties raised across our globe apples are inexpensive and provide a great way to give your kids a snack without feeling guilty.  Aside from being an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C they are fun to eat, low in calories and absolutely delicious.  Apples can be your best friend if you run a “busy kitchen”.  They also provide an interesting subject for your cooking pleasures.

I have always loved to cook with apples!  Whether it’s a quick saute with Fuji apples, maple syrup and pork chops or a traditional Granny Smith apple pie, these pomaceous delights have always satisfied my appetite!  My kids also love apples!  They literally eat about five apples each a week!  With that being the case I’m always looking for new recipes to fill their appetite for these healthy alternatives to candy or processed sweets.  I never complain about having to cook in order to give them a healthy alternative!

Now in certain situations it’s handy to have apples in a bowl on your counter for that quick accompaniment to string cheese for an afternoon snack.  However, if you have a little more time to “play with your food” check out these two recipes to take you apple cooking eating skills in a different direction.

This apple and thyme hash could easily be a feature as the side kick to a beautiful pork or lamb chop at any fine restaurant.  It’s a great crowd pleaser and so easy to make at home.  If you’re in a pinch and have no time to cook, this dish can be organized to come together for the dinner table in less than 10 minutes.  Pair it with a store-bought rotisserie chicken and you have a satisfying and wholesome dinner.

If you are looking for a snack or great lunch idea try this apple-n-cheese melt.  It’s packed with flavor and sure to please even the pickiest eaters.   Click here for the tutorial.

Here is the quick tutorial for the apple hash ………….. Enjoy!
First start by gathering the ingredients.  Apples, red potatoes, butternut squash, celery, onion, thyme, olive oil, maple syrup and S&P.

This is makes a quick presentation if you take the time to prepare.  The best place to start is with the butternut squash.  I’m a big fan of butternut.  The only problem is that it can be a bit challenging to break apart and prepare for roasting.  If you are up for the challenge, go for it.  If you aren’t feeling the “inner chef” feel free to use the pre-cut version from the grocery store.  If you are not a butternut fan, use sweet potatoes instead.

Both the butternut squash and red potatoes can roast on the same pan and should be roughly the same size.  Simply coat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread vegetables evenly so they cook completely.  Roast at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  They should be soft, light golden brown and softened.

Next dice the other vegetables.

The goal is to have all the vegetables the same size then they are sautéed.  Next remove and chop the thyme leaves.

Last but not least we chop the apples.  I always save the apples for last because of oxidation.  Here is how I break my apples down into dice.

I slice the apple into four slabs each about 1/2 inch thick. This makes it easier to line up for dice.

Next slice them into strips.

Finish by slicing the strips into cubes.

The other side of the apple can be sliced and diced as well. This leaves you with a perfect rectangle core piece.

It’s saute time!  Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil into a non-stick or cast iron pan on medium high heat.  Celery and onions saute for 2 minutes.  Add apples and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Finally add thyme and continue to cook.  Add the cooked butternut squash and potatoes to the mix and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes or until everything is hot and well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off the heat and add 1 Tbsp of maple syrup to the pan.  Coat the vegetables and serve.

This recipe works well with any fall vegetable including sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and other squash types.

__________________________________________________________

Apple and Thyme Hash:
Serves 4

2 Honey Crisp or Gala Apples Medium Diced
2 Cups of Butternut Squash Medium Diced  (Can purchase whole or pre-diced)
1/2 Red Onion Diced
6-8 Small Red Potatoes Diced
1 Stalk of Celery Diced
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Salt and Pepper to Season

1.)  Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and dice apples, butternut squash*, potatoes, red onion and celery and set aside.

2.)  On a baking sheet pan spread potatoes and butternut squash evenly across the space.  Drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil and salt/pepper on the vegetables.  Toss to coat.

3.)  Roast vegetables in oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown and soft.  Remove from oven and set aside.
(This step can be done ahead of time and vegetables can be refrigerated for future use.)

4.)  In a heavy non-stick or cast iron skillet add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter.  On medium high heat sauté red onion, apples and celery until soft and color appears.

5.)  Add fresh thyme and roasted vegetables to skillet and continue to cook for several minutes to combine flavors and allow for color.

6.)  Turn off heat and add 1 Tbsp maple syrup and salt/pepper to taste.

Enjoy with rotisserie or grilled chicken and a green salad for a tasty and super quick weeknight meal.

*You can substitute sweet potatoes for butternut squash.

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