An Envy-able Experience-#CookingwithEnvy at Central Market

Sponsored post-I will be compensated for writing this post and my fee for the class was paid for by Envy apples. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m a little bit crunchy. Reading labels, seeking natural remedies, careful of what I put in and on my body. I’ve been asked to write about products before but I’ve been hesitant. It would need to be something that is typically part of my culinary routine, or something I would try naturally. When I was asked to write about Envy apples, I did some research.

A cross between Gala and Braeburn, they were developed using natural plant-breeding techniques. No GMOs here. They are crunchy, sweet, and slow to brown. How? An abundance of Vitamin C. They checked all of the boxes and I received a box to sample.

I set up a bowl for photos, sampled and shared. Every time I looked at the bowl, more were missing. Yes, my kids were such fans I had to ban them from taking more apples so I would have enough to cook with.

I tried two recipes-a vegan apple crisp and a savory dish with quinoa, butternut squash, and kale. Neither turned out as I expected. Why? Because these apples are so good at retaining their texture that they didn’t soften as other varieties often do. For certain recipes, this is a very good thing.

Last week I attended a cooking class at Central Market in which Envy Apples starred in five courses:

  • Envy Apple & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
  • Envy Apple, Arugula, Fennel, and Roasted Walnut Salad
  • Butternut Squash & Envy Apple Soup with Sage
  • Sheet Pan Roasted, Fennel-crusted Pork Loin with Envy Apples and Onions
  • Roasted Envy Apple & Pear Compote with Candied Ginger

I had never attended a cooking class at Central Market and highly recommend the experience. Whether you’re a novice or an expert in the kitchen, expect a variety of useful tips, opportunity to ask questions, and a chance to make new friends while enjoying tasty wine and food. Each recipe was delicious and easy to prepare. Chef paired these dishes with two beauties from Italy, an Arneis from Langhe and Cannonau (Granache) from Sardinia. Both paired beautifully.

We were asked to share one of the recipes but I’m feeling like an over-achiever today. The recipes for each dish can be seen (mostly) in the photograph below. The full recipe for my favorite, the soup, can be found below the gallery along with tips to make it vegan.

Think of Envy apples for pretty plates since they don’t brown. Think of Envy for baked dishes that require a crunch. Think of Envy for healthy snacks, sweet and savory. Breakfast lunch or dinner, make room at your table for an Envy-able dish.

Butternut Squash & Envy Apple Soup with Sage

*tips to make vegan

I make a similar soup but this one was extra delicious. I think his choice to ROAST the squash to caramelize it added depth of flavor. Could also add curry powder instead of sage if you’re feeling wild.

Ingredients                                                                                                                     

  • 4 lbs whole butternut squash (about 2 medium, halved lengthwise and seeds removed)
  • 2 Tb. unsalted butter (1/4 stick) (or olive, coconut oil)*
  • 1 medium Envy apple (about 8oz.)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 2 1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable* or chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream (leave out or use almond or unsweetened coconut milk in a can)*
  • 1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish

Heat the oven to 425° F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place squash pieces cut side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, 50 minutes to an hour. (Note: if you are using pre-cubed, seeded, peeled squash, spray the foil with a little cooking spray to avoid sticking. You’ll want to check the squash periodically, as cubes will cook faster than the halved squash).

Meanwhile, peel, core and cut the apple into a medium dice. Cut the onion into a medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion and sage, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the squash skins.

Add the broth, water and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream and blend.

I like to use an immersion blender to limit dishes. If you use a regular blender, allow the steam to vent or you’ll wind up with a mess. Chef removed the smaller cap and used a towel. Great tip. Taste and season further as desired.

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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