The Honeycrisp Apple

When I woke up Thursday morning and walked the dogs, I felt the teensiest, tiniest bit of fall in the air. And I smiled. Finally. Fall is here. Or at least somewhere close by. Our summer actually started in March this year, so we are anxiously awaiting the first day when we can wear jeans instead of shorts.

In honor of fall's impending arrival, I have been eating an apple a day, though not to keep the doctor away. I fancy the honeycrisp apples. Few apples do it for me like a honeycrisp does. If you have not had the pleasure of biting into one of these super crisp, bright, juicy, tart-yet-sweet-but-not-too-sweet hybrid apples, you have been missing out. They are sensational as an eating apple but also to add in a salad or anything that calls for an apple.

Most apples have their special uses, but honeycrisp is the best all-around apple I have ever come across. At least what we have access to in Texas. The honeycrisp is a hybrid that was developed by the University of Minnesota as part of an apple breeding program to produce a hearty winter fruit tree with super high fruit quality. And they succeeded! 

Here is a list of apples and what they are best used for, whether for eating it raw, making a salad, baking, cooking, making a pie, dried apples or other uses such as making a sauce or even apple cider, apples are a multiple use fruit that can be used in either sweet or savory dishes.

Central Market has carried the honeycrisp apple for the last four years and, even though there are newer versions of the "it" apple, like Sweetango (a cross between a honeycrisp and a Michigan zestar), I am not interested, even though it is less expensive. I am already in a committed apple relationship. 

Because I am so enamored with the honeycrisp, I try and use it as much as possible and in as many recipes as I can. The season lasts throughout fall, with the Washington honeycrisps coming in first, followed by the Minnesota honeycrisps and then those from Nova Scotia. I think the Minnesota apples are the best, since that is where the apple was born, so to speak. (The word from my Central Market produce guru is that they are expecting the arrival of the Minnesota honeycrisp on Monday.)

While rummaging through my "to make" recipe file, I came across something I had printed almost one year ago to the date. On September 22, 2010, I printed the Apple-Walnut Salad with Maple Vinaigrette recipe I received via email from Vegetarian Times magazine. I thought it sounded great then, but obviously never got around to trying it out.

Now that it is the beginning of apple season, I'm kicking things off by serving this salad with cornmeal crusted flounder and homemade tartar sauce. 

Because of the growing appreciation and demand for the honeycrisp apple, you may find it at your grocery store, though I believe that the best selection is at Central Market. Once you try this apple, you will be ruined for life. And at $3.99 lb. for the organic and $2.99 for the Washington variety, please refrain from cursing me. Because, I can assure you that once you bite into that cold, crisp, sweet and tart honeycrisp, you'll be loving me again.

Buen provecho!

Apple-Walnut Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from Vegetarian Times (October 1, 2006, issue)

Print recipe

This is a sensational fall salad. The crisp, tart and sweetness of the apple paired with the earthy, toasted walnuts and the tangy dressing make for a delicious starter and even hearty enough for an entree. If you want to live large, consider adding a bit of blue cheese crumbles on top.

Serves 3-4

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups mixed salad greens (I used spring mix, Boston lettuce and arugula)
1 medium-sized apple, cored and cut into matchsticks (when in season, I use honeycrisp)
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until brown and fragrant.

While the walnuts are toasting, slice the apple into matchstick pieces.

Place greens and apples in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to coat.
Divide the salad among the plates, sprinkle each with walnuts and serve.

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