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There are several token events that signal that fall has arrived—those annoying countdowns to Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas begin to consume your newsfeed, the mannequins that were previously dressed in bikinis and tank tops are now clothed in warm, cable sweaters, and of course, the return of the pumpkin spice latte. However, there’s something very crucial missing from this list of all things autumn, and that is roasted apples.
For me, there’s nothing that can transform a kitchen that was previously outfitted with boatloads of zucchini, summer berries, ripe peaches, and tomatoes-galore quite like a sheet tray of warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven, roasted apples. If you weren’t waving a joyful farewell to summer and eagerly anticipating the arrival of fall before, you definitely will be after the aroma of a batch of baked apples fills your home. That, my fall-fearing friends, is fact.
If you’ve never dabbled in the roasted fruit arena, let this be your invitation to give it a whirl. Whether you decide to go down the sweet or savory route, you shouldn’t be hesitant to give your fruit a blast of heat—both are equally autumnal and satisfying. If sweet is your flavor profile of choice, give your apple slices (Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, or whatever you like) a toss in cinnamon (nutmeg, allspice, and ginger can always be added, depending on how fall-spiced you want your final product to be), sugar (white or brown), lemon juice, a drizzle of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. You also will not regret topping them off in your sheet pan with a couple of dispersed knobs of butter. #Just #Saying. Bake them for 15-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown and bubbly, your kitchen smells like a candle from Anthropologie, and your soul has left you and risen to the heavens above where it is joined by Johnny Appleseed.*
If savory is the name of your game, opt for flavors from woody herbs, like rosemary and thyme sprigs or sage leaves. Eat them on their own, or use them as a steak or pork topping. Caramelized onions and goat cheese are not a bad idea for roasted apple partners either.** If you want to give the apples a few roasting companions on the pan, toss them with sweet potatoes, fennel, mushrooms, or whatever produce items make your inner-autumn being squeal with unbridled joy. Planning to roast a whole chicken? Sit that sucker on top of your veggie mixture (with apples, of course), and get ready to experience the most delightfully schmaltzy meal of your life. Chicken fat + sweet, fall apples is a combination for the ages. Trust me. Congratulations, you have officially welcomed fall with open arms and the damn best-smelling kitchen on the whole block. Happy roasting.
*May he rest in peace. **In fact, they are a great idea.