Apple picking season is here, which for me means that I'll end up with way, way, way more apples than I need because who can resist filling up those bags when you're dragging that wagon around the pick-you-own orchards and you're finally tall enough to reach all the good apples that are above kid-picking level?
Here's how to host yourself an all-apple meal.
Salad: Arugula, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad with Cider-Honey Vinaigrette
Let's start things off simple with a three ingredient salad: crisp apples, peppery arugula leaves, crunchy almonds, and sweet-tart pomegranate seeds. Four ingredients. Crisp apples, arugula leaves, crunchy almonds, sweet-tart pomegranate seeds, and goat cheese. Five. Just five ingredients. Crisp apples, arugula leaves, almonds, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, and a honey-cider dressing...dammit. You get the picture. It's a great salad with a mix of flavors, super easy prep, and only six ingredients. You're only seven ingredients away from a perfect fall salad that only takes eight ingredients to make. Let's just say not very many ingredients and call it a day.
Main Course: Apple-Cranberry-Stuffed Pork Loin
Apples and pork go hand in hand like cold beers and hot showers. They were made for each other, the sweet apple bringing out the natural sweetness of the pork. In this recipe, apples and cranberries get rolled inside a pork loin before being grilled for a bit of extra smokiness. Don't want to fire up the grill in October? Don't worry, it'll work just fine in the oven as well.
Side Dish: Braised Red Cabbage and Apples
If apples are the Robin to pork's Batman, then cabbage is their Batmobile. Exciting yet dependable with a few tricks up its sleeves, and the perfect vehicle for delivering your pork and apples to wherever they may be in need (namely, your mouth). Braise the cabbage down with a bit of acid and some sweet-tart apples and you've got yourself a little sauerkraut substitute that comes together in a flash.
Dessert: Apple Cider Doughnut Cake
Apple cider doughnuts—those miniature, cinnamon and sugar-coated specimens that every orchard in New England starts selling come apple harvest season—are cake doughnuts, so it was only a small leap of logic to convert them into doughnut cakes. With actual pieces of apple along with apple cider in the batter, our baked version is actually more apple-y than the deep fried original. The only downside is that you don't get to watch the automated robotic doughnut frying machine make ours. You'll just have to find other ways to entertain yourself before dessert instead.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.