Whether you’re gluten-free or not, everyone appreciates getting in and out of the kitchen fast on a weeknight. This time, I took a hint for my low-maintenance basic recipe from a seasonal fruit that kept staring at me in the market: apples. In less than 20 minutes, I had my fast fridge fix—warm, homemade Apple Cider Applesauce.
Warning: If you’ve never made apple sauce yourself, I caution you that you may never go back to the jarred stuff. My kids and I ate most of the applesauce straight from the pot for that night’s dessert.
Then, throughout the week, I was ready to get dinner done fast with my easy mix-in mains, like Pork ’n’ Applesauce Hash Brown Waffles or Caramelized Butternut Squash-Apple Soup With Bacon Croutons.
Apple Cider Applesauce
If you can’t find Honey Crisp apples, McIntosh or Granny Smith works great, too.
Makes: about 4 cups
3 pounds apples, preferably Honey Crisp (about 6 apples)—peeled, quartered and cored
1½ cups apple cider, pear cider or water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cider, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, lemon juice and salt; bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 18 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, break up the apples until chunky.
Pork ’n’ Applesauce Hash Brown Waffles
You can swap two Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound)—peeled, grated and wrung dry—for the store-bought hash browns. If you’re using a standard waffle iron, just put less hash brown mixture in each waffle square.
2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total)
Salt and pepper
One 1-pound bag hash browns, such as Cascadian Farms
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup Apple Cider Applesauce, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 425°. Drizzle the pork with olive oil; season all over with salt, pepper and chili powder. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the pork until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven; roast until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the hash browns, onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil, egg, applesauce, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron to medium-high heat; grease with cooking spray. Place a heaping ½ cup of the hash brown mixture into each waffle square; cook until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with the pork and applesauce.
Caramelized Butternut Squash-Apple Soup with Bacon Croutons
1 large butternut squash (about 2½ pounds)—peeled, seeded and cut into
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup Apple Cider Applesauce, plus more for serving
8 slices gluten-free baguette, such as Schar, or 4 slices gluten-free bread, cut into triangles, toasted
4 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
Shredded cheddar or nondairy substitute, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400º. On two baking sheets, toss the squash, potatoes, onion and garlic with olive oil to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper; roast, stirring halfway, until caramelized, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Stir in the rosemary and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Discard the rosemary stalks.
In a blender and working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture until smooth, then return to the pot. Add water to reach your desired consistency, if necessary; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the applesauce and heat to a simmer.
Preheat the broiler. Place ovenproof mugs on a baking sheet and fill with soup. Top each with 2 baguette slices sprinkled with the bacon and cheddar. Broil until the cheese is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
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Silvana Nardone is a food lifestyle expert, magazine editor and motivational speaker. She is the editor-in-chief of the all-digital, gluten-free magazine, Easy Eats. Silvana is also the author of Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals and publisher of Silvana’s Kitchen, a blog that takes the guesswork out of how to feed a family with food allergies. Previously, she was the founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray.