Baked Apples Filled with Dates and Pecans When I told my friend about this baked apple dish, he said it reminded him of an old folk recipe. When he was little and had an upset tummy, his Russian grandmother would cut up an apple and leave it out on the counter for a few minutes, until it began to brown. His grandmother would then say, “Come eat, tatellah” (an affectionate way of saying, “little man” in Yiddish). Lo and behold, a few minutes later his stomach felt better. He always figured it was love at work (and, of course, it was), but years later he found out there was also some science involved: As they brown—or cook, in this case—apples release pectin, which naturally soothes the belly. Baking makes the pectin and the rest of the apple easier to digest. In this recipe, the apples are complemented by a whole host of tasty morsels and spices—toasted pecans, dates, orange zest, and cinnamon—and as they bake, they smell heavenly. SERVES 4
¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans ¼ cup pitted and finely diced Medjool dates Zest and juice of 1 orange ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon sea salt 4 baking apples, such as Pink Lady, Pippin, or Mcintosh 1 tablespoon organic butter (optional) Unfiltered apple juice, for baking Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the pecans, dates, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine. Core the apples, leaving half an inch at the bottom, and peel the top edges. Stuff the apples with the pecan filling, then dot the butter on top or melt the butter and brush it on the apple tops. Put the apples in a baking pan, pour in about 1 inch of apple juice, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, until the apples are tender but not mushy. Test for doneness by poking a fork into the apples; they should be tender and yield easily to pressure. Serve warm, drizzled with the warm apple juice from the baking pan.