Carrot-Apple Salad

This experiment is definitely a keeper!

I used the food processor to shred the carrots.   I had about two cups of sliced apples on hand, already rinsed in lemon juice and water to prevent browning, so I used a kitchen knife and julienned the slices.  I would be concerned about excessive browning and mushiness if they had been shredded.  The larger julienne cut kept them crisp.

2 cups carrots, shredded using a box grater or food processor.

2 cups julienned apples that have been rinsed in lemon juice and water to prevent browning.

1 cup sunflower seeds

3-4 Tbsp blood orange fused olive oil* or 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp orange juice (more or less depending on how moist your carrots and apples are).

3-4 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar* or apple cider vinegar (more or less depending on how moist your carrots and apples are).

2 Tbps honey

1 egg white

 

*I’ve noticed a trend in fancy olive oil shops opening.  There is one in Abingdon, one in Boone, and at least one in Asheville.  They are worth visiting, but realize there is a psychology being employed on you when you walk in.  It is not unlike getting a tour of a time-share condo at some resort.  They really work you!

That being said, they have some good, albeit expensive oils and vinegars.  My advice is to pick one oil and one vinegar that complement each other and leave it at that – unless you’ve just won the lottery.

My choice was Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil, meaning they pressed the skins from blood oranges at the same time as the olives were pressed.  It’s a beautiful, clear oil with a nice aroma and balanced orange flavor.  It is fantastic all on its own, drizzled sparingly over mixed greens, spinach, and/or arugula, or even roasted asparagus.

I chose the White Balsamic Vinegar to go with it because of the subtle sweetness and the lightness of it, especially when compared to the darker, muskier Balsamic de Modena.

I’ve had the two bottles for over a year; they keep well and go a long way, which is a good thing, considering the price.  A nice splurge.

If you haven’t splurged, use regular extra virgin olive oil and a little orange juice, and apple cider vinegar.  Maybe a little more honey, depending on how it tastes to you.  That’s what I was going to do until I remembered the splurgy stuff hiding in my pantry.

Mix the carrots, apples and sunflower seeds together in a medium mixing bowl.

Blend the oil, vinegar, honey and egg white in a measuring cup with a whisk or immersion blender.  Pour over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat everything well.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

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By Request – Polenta with Apples

It was a couple years ago, about this time of year.  It was time for the monthly FPCe Women’s Group gathering, and it was a cool, crisp, late-summer evening such as this.  I wanted to make something apple-y, in celebration of fall, and I had a TON of apples to use up.  So, apple cobbler came to mind first.  But shoot!  At least three of the women in the group were not able to eat gluten.  Being a gluten glutton, myself, I did not have any of the many flours and things needed to make a gluten-free dough.  What to do, what to do?

Oatmeal, I thought.  I can make oat bars with apple filling!  Yeah, nice try.  Still need wheat flour for that.  Rice pudding?  Maybe.  If only I had enough eggs.  Crap!  Then I thought of polenta.  Normally I make polenta with a combination of broth and milk.  And most people think of it as a savory item.  But why not?  Corn cakes are often sweet.  Here in Appalachia, old-timers eat fried mush with sorghum molasses or maple syrup, right?  Why not polenta?

Rather than cooking the polenta with milk, I decided to use apple juice that I had canned.  Polenta calls for a grain to liquid ratio of anywhere from 1:3 to 1:6, depending how thick you want it.  I wanted it pretty thick, so I cooked 2 cups of polenta with a quart of apple juice, and just a quarter cup of 1/2 and 1/2 for fun.  I also added about a teaspoon of cinnamon.

While that cooked, I chopped ten or so apples to get about 8 cups of pieces.  I wanted the apples to be small, but not so small that they would turn to mush when cooked.  So, about 1/2 inch pieces worked well.

I melted 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter in my big cast iron skillet and added about 1/4 teaspoon each allspice, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, and another 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  I like to heat my spices first to get as much flavor out of them as possible.  The kitchen smelled like a bear hug!

I tossed in the apples and 1/4 cup each molasses and honey, and cooked the apples until they were just getting tender.  By that time the polenta was done.

I poured the polenta into a baking dish – 9X13, greased – and poured the cooked apples over that.  Then I made a fairly traditional crumble topping, but without the flour that you would normally use.  I chopped a cup of walnuts in the food processor, took half of them out and processed the rest until it was almost like flour.  Back in went the larger pieces, along with 1/3 cup brown sugar, more cinnamon, 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter that I had diced, and 1/2 cup oats.  The pulse setting turned that into a nice crumbly topping.

That went over the apples, which went into a 350ºF oven for about 20 minutes, just enough to get the apples fully cooked and their juices bubbling up through the oat-walnut topping.

It was pretty tasty – an earthier taste than a normal cobbler, but also more substantial.  It went over well at the gathering, and Mr. Dewey took care of the rest.  He’s good for that.

NOTE: if you really need to make sure this is completely gluten free, be certain the oats are gluten free.  Some oats are processed in the same facilities as wheat, and so can contain trace amounts of gluten; enough to affect a Celiac or someone with severe gluten sensitivities.