April is a challenging time to eat seasonally while still keeping the dinner plate vibrant and enticing. While the calendar happily proclaims that spring has sprung, nature has her own timeline! My eyes are peeled during each visit to the market, seeking the slightest sign that the fields have broken out of dormancy. Rather than giving in to temptation and purchasing high-mileage imported zucchini at the supermarket, I reaffirm my choice to follow nature’s lead and find new ways to shake up the season’s offerings. Apples, still abundant in April, serve as a great source of potassium and fiber (even more so with the peel intact), can be eaten in dozens of different ways, and challenge me to reimagine the classic baked apple.
While often relegated to desserts, baked apples offer a nice surprise when turned into a savory dish. This recipe balances the sweet and tender quality of baked apples with a flavorful edamame-and-mushroom stuffing. Served as a hearty snack, or made into a meal when paired with a cooked grain and greens, this dish is a true feast for the senses with its complexity of flavors and beautiful presentation. Topping each apple with melted cheese rounds it out nicely, but can be omitted if a dairy-free option is preferred.
Baked Apples with Savory Edamame Filling
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced (about 4 to 5 mushrooms)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1–inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the centers of the apples with a spoon or melon scoop, leaving a shell that is about 1/2 inch thick. Roughly chop and reserve 1 cup of the apple flesh.
- Brush the insides of the apples with coconut oil. Place on a baking sheet with a rim and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
- While the apples are baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallot, and salt, and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and cook until they have softened and released their juices.
- Stir in the cinnamon, garlic, and ginger, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Stir in the chopped apple, edamame, cranberries, and pecans. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes to warm through, and then remove from heat.
- Spoon 1/2 cup of the filling into the baked apples and top each with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Return to the oven briefly, until the cheese has melted.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
- Baked Apples of All Kinds. Mutsu, Rome, and Crispin all work well in this recipe because they hold their shape when baked.
- Baked Apples with Browned Sausage. Substitute 1/2 cup crumbled, browned sausage for the edamame.
- Baked Apples with Brown Rice and Veggies. Make it a meal – serve with brown rice and steamed veggies.
It’s not just for flavor! Salt draws the moisture out of food, ensuring even cooking and browning. When you add it to the onions and shallots, make sure it is evenly distributed.
Baked apples are easier to digest than raw, so they are a great option for those with sensitive stomachs. They also have beneficial amounts of pectin, a soluble fiber, which helps maintain gastrointestinal health by ushering toxins out of the body in a timely manner.
If you followed the adage of “an apple a day,” it would take quite a bit of time to taste every type of apple out there! There are 2,500 varieties growing in the United States alone, each with their own unique flavor. There is currently a movement underway to preserve heirloom varieties from extinction—over 500 types have been saved already.