Grilled Fruit 15 - Apples
Apples, Apples, Apples -- Great on the grill. Despite the absolute simplicity of preparing apples for the grill and the total ease of handling them there -- to say nothing of their nutritional benefits and how good they are as a substitute for meat in a meal like this -- people rarely grill and prepare apples in this way. When's the last time you saw this on a menu in a restaurant?
But people should do this more often. Grilling apples enhances their flavor in a remarkable way. The cool crispness is replaced by a subtle, enticing new flavor centered around the warmth of the apple as it comes off of the grill. The aroma is also mouth-watering -- and eye-opening because it is different from and yet so similar to the aroma of an apple freshly cut in half.
Cheese has always been paired with apples, but now this pairing takes on a new dimension, and the two become the basis for a delicious luncheon salad. Taking classics and giving them a new twist boosts the chances for discovering something really good.
When we first tried it and served it to a guest, the guest said one thing: "More!"
Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith
Three different types of apples -- we want to try a variety of apples on the grill. Makes the whole experience more interesting.
Of course there were many other types we could have chosen, and will in the future -- good old Red Delicious, for example, is just one such.
Of the three we are starting with here, the Granny Smith is the largest, the densest, and the tartest -- before the grilling.
Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith. I don't know whether this sounds like a law firm or a punk band on an afternoon TV show on the Comedy Network.
The difference in grill marks here does not reflect a difference in the variety of apple. Rather, it simply reflects the difference in temperature/flame on different parts of the grill -- even though in these cases the apples are all being grilled way down at one end of a grill with four burners.
This is after four minutes on the grill. We grilled them for another five minutes, changing their places several times.You can see the juices bubbling when you are doing -- a really enticing sight. We can, of course, grill them for longer, depending on how significantly we want to alter the original crispness of the apples.
On the whole, though, retaining a good bit of the initial crispness is a good idea -- but strike a balance: too much crispness and the distinction between a raw apple and a grilled one gets lost; too little crispness and the idea of an apple is undercut.
Balsamic and EVOO
Balsamic vinegar and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, for EVOO click here) are the perfect dressing for this lunch salad built around the grilled apples. Plus coarse ground salt and coarse ground black pepper, of course.
We laid down a bed of spring herbal mix lettuce (wild argula would be another delicious choice), added the apple and the cheese -- and the dressing.
Now, cheese of course is the perfect accompaniment for apples. The poet leewhiteleewhite has written: "Apple sole and alone/Till cheese warms and rounds." The cheese here is a simple brick Mozzarella, though fresh Mozzarella might even be better, especially if you can get the type made with milk from the Water Buffalo (Mozzarella Di Bufala). The possibilities are endless, a myriad of cheeses. The potentialities are infinite.
Now, as to the effect of grilling on the apples. The tartness of the Granny Smith was dampened a bit, but replaced by a slight smokiness that intrigued. This was an altogether happy result. The Gala was simply enhanced, another happy result. The Fuji actually seemed to increase in tartness a bit, an unexpected result but one that we thoroughly enjoyed.
Changing the grilling time might change these changes, though. Please comment.
We loved this lunch, by the way. And so did our guests.
Apples we owe to the Silk Road. So many modern fruits and vegetables we owe to the discovery of the New World, but not apples. The come from a path well traveled for many centuries by many people, of whom the most famous, at least in the West, is Marco Polo.
The wild ancestor of the modern apples was found by one or more of these travelers on that famous link, the most famous link, between East and West, growing wild in the mountains of Central Asia, a vast area that covers (proceeding East to West) the province of Xinjiang in China, modern Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and southern Kazakhstan. It is thought that cultivation of apples began here also, specifically in the forests of the famous Tian Shan mountains. There was also an in-mixing of genes from the crabapple, in fact so much so that today the modern apple is probably closer to the crabapple than to its original wild progenitor.
Speaking of genes, the apple was the first fruit to have its genome sequenced completely. It turned out to have a very great many genes, 57,000 of them in fact, about 27,000 more than we humans have! Perhaps apples are smarter than we are, or will outlive us.
Part of a series
Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!
Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series together with links, can be found here: Lee White's Department Store. Happy shopping!
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.