October 26th, 2009

An Apple Appetizer


Do you have a favorite apple?

With all the tempting varieties showing up at our farmer’s market this week, I would be hard pressed to give an answer. And, some apples are better suited for baking, others for simple out-of-hand eating. Pairing apple types–say, your sweet Jonah Gold with a tart Honeycrisp in a salad or green Granny Smith with an Arkansas Black layered in a Tarte Tatin–adds surprising complexity to a dish. Maybe it’s better to have Favorites, with the notion that the next best ones have yet to be sampled…

Last week I was in Manchester, Tennessee, talking to the ladies of the garden club about Food. That’s broad, I know. And, I can hold forth on any of the myriad aspects: growing and preserving, cooking techniques and recipes, health concerns and education, community…It’s one of our common denominators; a conversation about food can lead anywhere!

We discussed hunger and food security issues, and the importance of supporting our local food producers when and where we can. Being ladies who have long been cultivating beautiful living things, they well understood what it means to eat seasonally.

Maybe that’s when the topic of apples came up. There’s a wonderful orchard not too far from them in Pikeville, Tennessee. (That’s about 140 miles southeast of Nashville, as the crow flies.) Up on Walden Ridge, the Oren Wooden Apple Farm grows 18 varieties, with the Pink Lady Apples–crisp, sweet beauties that are remarkably versatile–being the most prized.

Serendipity! This led to a quick recipe demonstration I had already planned to give, one that would benefit from being prepared with the prized Pink Lady.

simple ingredients

This delicious appetizer requires nothing more than the right ingredients, plus a knife and bowl. I used a Gala and a Jonah Gold. Try the recipe with your favorite crisp “eating” apples and a fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Toasted almonds or walnuts work equally well in the recipe–you make the choice. Mild goat cheese creams and coats the apples as you toss the ingredients. Bright green onion, salt and pepper balance the sweetness, give it edge.

In under fifteen minutes, you’ll have a fall appetizer,
ready to enjoy with a glass of Riesling.

Belgian endive leaves provide totally edible support. And, the floral mandala makes a knock-out presentation. Perfect for my garden club friends.

Update! An email from Manchester just alerted me to the coming Pink Lady harvest at Wooden’s. Fantastic! A box of these lovelies could be coming my way soon.

chopped up

mixed up ready

Belgian Endive stuffed with Honeycrisp Apples, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
4 firm heads of Belgian Endive
2 Apples, (try Honeycrisp, Gala, Pink Lady)washed, cored, diced into small pieces
4 oz. plain Chevre log, crumbled
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Tablespoon fresh Orange Juice
2 Green Onions, tops included, finely sliced
½ cup Walnuts or Almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
A few grindings of Black Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar for drizzling

Rinse and dry endives, trim the bottom (root end) to separate leaves. Set aside.
In a bowl, toss diced apples and crumbled goat cheese with extra virgin olive oil and orange juice until lightly coated. Add green onions, nuts, dried cranberries, salt and black pepper. Stir gently until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated in the mixture. The goat cheese will cream slightly and coat the apples. Place a small spoonful at the base of the endive leaf–enough for one bite–and lay the leaf on a plate. Continue, placing each leaf in a circular pattern on the plate. Then, drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar onto each mound of apple-goat cheese-nut salad. Serve. Makes about 48 leaves.

side view close up(2)

Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Fruit, Recipes

13 Responses to “An Apple Appetizer”
  1. Allison Wright Says:

    Beautiful! This dish is really like a piece of art!

  2. Heather Says:

    Oh yeah, I’m gonna make this one!

  3. Barbara Says:

    Hi Nancy–this is not only a work of art, but looks easy to prepare and delicious. Even I think I can do this one.
    Thank you!

  4. Kira Beth Says:

    This dish looks awesome! I think I will make it as a Thanksgiving app.
    You are the best!

  5. zoe Says:

    I love this idea for an appetizer!

  6. marva Says:

    Hi Nancy…what a wonderful presentation & great blend of ingredients…I’m going to have it Saturday night with friends before we go out to eat!

  7. Teresa Blackburn Food Styling Says:

    I love apples and these recipes using locally grown ones look wonderful. Thanks for bringing to everyone’s attention the fact that we have many wonderful apples available right here in our area every fall. I have been getting them at the Farmer’s Market for a while now. I love the beautiful imperfections, bumps, spots, non-waxy surfaces. I have been using bowls of them as tablescapes in between bites.

  8. Christine@FRESH LOCAL Says:

    I adore Belgian endives for its tender texture and delicate leaf. This is a beautiful and tasty appetizer, I like that you added orange zest and cranberries.

    Thanks for stopping by at FLB, Greenport is my favorite part of North Fork and I’m glad to know the photos brightened up your day.


  9. Katarina Says:

    I made this last night for a party and it was devoured! A big hit with the party, easy to make and gorgeous! Thank-you for the great recipes!

  10. Holland Says:

    I just made this for an Apple party I’m hosting this weekend. The combination is good except for one thing- the orange zest leaves a very bitter aftertaste. It may have just been my orange, but I would add zest a little at a time if I were to make this again.

  11. tastes good to me! Says:

    […] an amuse-bouche of apple, walnuts, and goat cheese endive cups, (a gorgeous recipe!) […]

  12. Sara Says:

    This is gorgeous and so delicious. I have made it several times and served it with the endive and it is one of the first things to be eaten up at parties. It seems to lend balance to the heavier (but also yummy) appetizers of the holiday season. Question, though. If Belgian endive is not available or not an option for using as a base for the apple mixture, what do you think a good substitute might be?

  13. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Sara,
    What a coincidence—last week I made the appetizer and couldn’t find endive at the market. I bought radicchio and romaine—using the sturdy inner leaves of each. It works fine–although it is not as pretty.

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