So I do this thing where I find things just lying around in the kitchen and put it in everything. Since my favorite apples of all time are nearing the end of their season (Honey Crisps), I’ve been finding ways to sneak apples into nearly every meal.
Sample menu 1-
breakfast – oatmeal with sautéed apples and cinnamon
lunch – apple-cheddar grilled cheese
snack – apple spread with almond butter
dinner – apple and butternut squash soup
Sample menu 2 -
breakfast – apple-cheddar scones
lunch – apple and almond butter sandwich
snack – apple, handful of walnuts, wheel of mini Babybel cheese
dinner – apple, fennel, and tuna pasta
(PS- these are sample menus. I don’t actually eat apples on apples on apples day after day.)
Not too bad right? Better than munching on whole apples after school each and every day. If I’m feeling extra special, I’ll even tuck some apple slices between almond butter slathered bread in place of sliced banana. I’ll have to introduce you to my sandwich obsession another time…
Maybe I should just tell you now.
So, sandwiches: the perfect way to transform any idea into a meal. In my opinion, it’s the best way to utilize ingredients if you’re in a pinch and really want to create something unique. I like them sweet, I like them savory, and I like them interesting (the interesting part is a must). My go-to sandwich is definitely an almond butter and banana sandwich sprinkled with cinnamon and honey. I fall back on it quite a bit, actually. It just never gets old! And if it does or if I run out of bananas (God forbid), my recently-discovered choice of sandwich would have to be a grilled cheese. More specifically, a grilled cheese with sliced apples and hazelnut-basil pesto.
This lovely pairing came together one afternoon as a means of freeing up space in the refrigerator. From some previous nights, I’d made hazelnut pesto as a way to salvage the basil plant I had in the kitchen (on the brink of withering). And that silly box of super perishable baby spinach has been in there a day or two too long. I poked around the kitchen a bit more to find a block of extra sharp cheddar cheese waiting for me and a lonely Granny Smith apple, excluded from the batch of fried apples my Gram cooked up with biscuits and gravy. The best way to meld all these flavors together?
Indeed, a sammich.
Apples and cheese were meant to be together. On a cheeseboard with some almonds and wine and here in a grilled cheese. Ooozey cheese reminded me of a vat of cheddar fondue with apples to dip, but with the crisp, tart apples on the inside, each bite is warm and cold, salty and tart. And the pesto compliments it all; herbaceous and nutty. Not to mention, the cinnamon-raisin bread has become an essential part of all of my sandwiches – by far my favorite canvas for all flavors.
Enough of this teasing, here’s the recipe already!
Apple grilled cheese with hazelnut pesto
(adapted from The Kitchen Sink)
yielded 1 sandwich
This recipe also works wonderfully in made into a quesadilla. The best tortillas are the Whole Grain Flour Tortillas with rolled oats and flax seeds from Trader Joes. They have great texture and lend a wonderful flavor that stands up to all ingredients, yet blends in oh so subtly. Definitely give them a try. I always have them on hand in my kitchen. I once bought out TJ’s entire stock of them (mind you, there were only 4 packages left on the shelves…but after I left there were none). If you want to stock up but don’t eat 2 a day everyday, stash them in the freezer. They defrost at room temperature in about 2 minutes if you forget about them, otherwise move packages from the freezer to the refrigerator and they’ll be good to go by the morning.
2 slices of cinnamon raisin bread
2 hefty T hazelnut pesto (recipe follows)
2 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese
half a Granny Smith apple, sliced thin
handful of spinach
Heat a large, flat nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
Take one slice of bread, butter one side and place butter-side down onto the hot skillet; do the same with the other slice. Right away, place cheese on one piece of bread and spread pesto on the other. Allow cheese to completely melt, about 5 minutes or so. After the cheese has melted, turn heat up to medium-high and continue cooking until the bottom of the bread has become crispy and golden. Press greens into the side of pesto and apples into the cheese. Combine two pieces of bread, remove from the heat, and slice in half.