Do you have seasonal favorite dishes that you like to make? As each year rolls around, I look forward with great anticipation to tasting some favorite dishes once more, and it seems like periodically they are due for a wee makeover. Not that there was anything wrong with them the first time around, but just because I think…’Wow, wouldn’t this be good with this or that added to it?’ Or, ‘What if I tried making that into something else?’ Here are two new dishes, not quite the same as the old dishes—and both involve one of my favorite seasonal ingredients, apples! The first is a savory bread pudding, something I think I enjoy perhaps even more than a sweet bread pudding. This one has a nice balance of slightly sweet butternut squash and tart apple added to savory kale and Parmesan, all bound together with an eggy custard and just a hint of nutmeg. And it’s a pretty healthy recipe, too! It makes a great all-in-one-dish lunch or weeknight meal, or you can serve a smaller portion with a salad or a smooth soup. You can see the original version here for comparison.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale, Apple and Parmesan Bread Pudding Serves 6-8 3 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1 large or 2 small) 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt for the squash 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced 1 bunch of fresh lacinato kale, washed, stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces (about 8 cups loosely packed) pinch of kosher salt and a few grind of black pepper 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes with peel left on 6 eggs 2 1/4 cups 1% lowfat milk 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1 large baguette cut into 1 inch cubes, about 9 cups, preferably crispy or day old Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and cover a cookie sheet with foil, lightly greased with olive oil. Place the squash on the foil in a single layer, sprinkle it with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and roast it in the over until the squash is tender, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion until it is translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more, stirring. Add the kale and continue to cook, stirring, until the kale wilts and is just becoming tender. Add a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the apples, and cook for about 1 minute more, stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and whisk to combine. Add the squash and the kale/onion/apple mixture to the egg mixture, and stir to combine. Add the bread cubes to the bowl and stir gently, mixing well and coating the bread. Allow this to stand for 10 minutes. Prepare a large 2 quart casserole by lightly oiling it with olive oil. Spoon the bread mixture into the casserole evenly, then top with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes until the pudding is set and lightly browned. Serve hot.
And for my next makeover, here’s a sweet seasonal apple bar, chocked full of tasty and healthy ingredients. It’s some cakey, chewy, apple-oat-walnut goodness, with a little sweet hit of glaze in every bite. These bars were originally cookies, which you can see here and they are awesome in their own right, but the bars are ever so much quicker to make when you’ve got a craving! Fresh Apple Oat Walnut Bar Makes 16 Bars 1/2 cup butter, unsalted 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar or turbinado sugar 1 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract 2 eggs 1 cup flavorful apples such as Gala, finely chopped with peel 1 1/2 cups rolled oats 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 3/4 cup all purpose flour, lightly spooned into cup 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Cider Glaze: 1/2 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar (plus extra if needed) 1/2 tablespoon melted butter tiny pinch of salt 1/8 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract 1 Tablespoon apple cider Lightly butter a non-stick 8 x 8″ square baking or cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar and cane sugar over low heat and stir until smooth and the butter has just melted, do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the eggs, beating them into the sugar and butter mixture quickly by hand, then add the flour, salt, cinnamon and the oatmeal and stir well to combine. Add the vanilla and mix well. Fold in the apples and the walnuts until well combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-28 minutes until done and the top is golden brown, the sides pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a table knife around the edges of the pan gently to loosen, and invert the pan onto the wire rack, removing the bars. Allow to cool completely. Cut into 16 pieces. For the glaze, combine all ingredients until smooth and the consistency is not runny, but can be easily drizzled. Add more cider or more powdered sugar if necessary to achieve the right consistency. Drizzle the cider glaze decoratively on top of the bars and allow it to set, then serve. These will keep for a day or so under plastic wrap.
Want more apple goodness? Check out these other dishes that feature my favorite Fall fruits and veggies: Cranberry Apple Walnut Bread, Baby Kale with Fall Fruits, Pecans and Candied Ginger and Asian-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup.
On another note: ‘Tis the season to get started on your holiday gifts, and especially if you plan to make my Cranberry Liqueur this year. I started mine on the 9th, so it will be ready to strain and decant into bottles on the 30th. You can see the recipe for it and some variations right here. More gift ideas will be forthcoming!