Savory Apple Casserole

(Formerly known as "Escalloped Apple Casserole")
Adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 45 minutes in the oven
Yield: 4 to 6 main-dish servings

Don't be deterred by the seemingly strange presence of sauerkraut in this recipe. It blends in beautifully, conferring tartness and texture. Let your guests try identify this "mystery ingredient." My guess is they won't figure it out!

Serve this simple, unusual dish with holiday meals, or as a main dish for a cold winter supper, with soup, pumpernickel bread, and a green salad with a mustard vinaigrette. A good red wine or Sangria would go nicely with this.

SHORTCUT NOTE: Use the slicing attachment of the food processor to cut the apples in seconds flat. Just core them and feed them into the machine. Then, without cleaning the processor, switch to the grating attachment for the cheese. Presto!

1 tablespoon butter or canola oil
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 32-ounce jar sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
6 medium-sized tart apples, thinly sliced (peeling unnecessary)
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt (a dash)
Cloves (a pinch)
Nutmeg (a dash)
2 tablespoons light honey or brown sugar
1/3 pound medium or sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 cup good bread crumbs
3/4 cup minced walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Have ready a 2-quart capacity casserole or an equivalent pan. (A 9 X 13-inch baking pan will work.)
  2. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion and mustard, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add the sauerkraut and cook for about 5 more minutes. Set aside.
  3. Toss together the apple slices, flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Add the honey or sugar and mix well.
  4. Now for the fun part. Make the following layers in the casserole or baking pan:
    * Half the apples
    * Half the onion-sauerkraut mixture
    * Half the cheese
    * The remaining apples
    * The remaining onion-sauerkraut
    * The remaining cheese
  5. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and walnuts. Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 15 minutes, to let the top brown. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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