Embrace apple-picking season with this crunchy topping for sauteed or baked apples. Use any variety of apples or a mixture of varieties, but remember to leave the skin on to retain all the beta carotene! Because most of the fiber in apples is soluble, they can effectively lower blood cholesterol levels. To continue the heart healthy theme, we use a mixture of walnuts, applesauce and egg whites in place of butter.
• 1/2 cup walnuts
• 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
• 3 tablespoons applesauce
• 1 egg white
• 3/4 cup oats
• 3/4 cup flour (all purpose, whole wheat flour or a mixture)
• 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• Pinch salt
• 3 lbs of apples (about 6 medium apples), any variety or a mixture
• 1/4 cup apple juice
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Grind the walnuts very finely in a small food processor or mince finely on a cutting board. Mix in the oil, then the applesauce and egg white. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients including the brown sugar. Using a spatula, fold in the walnut mixture, using as few strokes as possible. When it looks like wet sand with some dry powder still free at the bottom, scatter across a silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet in pea-sized pieces. Bake for 7-10 min. until it is golden brown and begins to crisp. Let cool completely on the tray, then store in an airtight container.
To serve, remove the apple cores, leaving the skin on. Slice apples, about 1/2 inch thick. Saute apples with apple juice for 3-5 min. until tender-crisp, adding more juice or water as needed to keep the pan moist. Top with oat crunch and serve.
Alternatively, "bake" apples in the microwave. Core apples using a jack-o-lantern cutting technique. Once the top is removed, a melon baller works well to remove the seeds and core. Microwave, 4 min. for 2 apples, about 6-8 min. for 4 apples. Let cool at least 2 min. before serving with topping.