Savory Baked Apples with Toasted Walnuts

Savory Baked Apples with Toasted Walnuts

This recipe is brought to you by the California Walnut Commission. Recipe copyright ©2003 by the American Heart Association.  Look for other delicious recipes in American Heart Association cookbooks, available from booksellers everywhere.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped California walnuts
  • 8 California walnut halves
  • 4 ounces low-fat turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach, cut into thin strips
  • 1 slice multi-grain bread, torn into small pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 8 large Granny Smith apples (about 5 ounces each) or other baking apple such as Rome, Braeburn, or Gala
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put the chopped walnuts and walnut halves on a large nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until toasted and light golden brown.
  3. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack to cool, leaving the oven temperature at 350°F.
  4. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage for 4 to 5 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center, stirring occasionally to break up the meat. Transfer the sausage to a colander and rinse with hot water to remove excess fat. Drain well. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. 
  5. In the same skillet, cook the shallots and 2 tablespoons broth over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shallots are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour in the brandy and 1/4 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits into the liquid. Stir in the thyme; cook for 30 seconds to infuse the flavor into the sauce, stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in the spinach, bread, chopped walnuts, and sausage until moistened and well mixed.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch slice off the top of each apple. (Leave the stem intact for presentation if desired.)
  9. Using a melon baller, remove and discard the core and seeds. Hollow out the apple to a 1/2-inch shell.
  10. Coarsely chop enough removed apple to measure 1 1/2 cups. Stir the chopped apple into the stuffing mixture.
  11. Spoon the stuffing into the apple shells.
  12. Spoon 1/2 cup broth into the stuffed apples, using about 1 tablespoon for each.
  13. Place the apple tops over the stuffing.
  14. Put the apples into a nonstick 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
  15. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender but not mushy. To serve, put each apple on a plate, set the apple top slightly askew, and place a toasted walnut half on top of the exposed stuffing.