Apples are to autumn what ice cream is to summer—once the temps drop and leaves change, our cravings for a crisp Pink Lady or Granny Smith are ignited. That’s because the fruit starts to mature in late summer and throughout the fall, feeding the country in the form of pies, ciders (more on this here), and donuts all season long. These annual apple traditions seem to have become ubiquitous in the U.S., but when did America’s apple obsession begin?
The fruit’s origins are tied to Central Asia, where they were first grown millions of years ago. But Americans didn’t start to enjoy them until the 17th century when settlers brought the seeds over from Europe for cider brewing. Eventually, Americans fell in love with this fiber- and antioxidant-rich snack, and the apple became America’s favorite fruit.
Now there are seemingly limitless options to choose from on an apple picking (or grocery store) trip, and many distinct flavors to try with cheese. Whether you reach for Galas, Cortlands, or a delightfully rosy Pink Pearl, each variety is ready to pair with wedges right off a cheese board, in a cheesy dessert, or in an elevated grilled cheese.
Smoked Gouda and Apple Grilled Cheese
- 5 tablespoons salted butter divided, plus more as needed
- 1 large Granny Smith apple cored and thinly sliced
- 1 small shallot halved and thinly sliced
- 8 ½- inch thick slices sourdough bread
- 4 ounces smoked Gouda sliced ¼-inch thick
- 1 ounce baby arugula
- ► Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter, then add apples and shallot. Sauté, mixing occasionally, until apples are golden and softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a plate and set aside.
- ► Wipe down pan and set back over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Top four of the bread slices with 1 ounce Gouda each; divide the apple mixture and baby arugula among the remaining four slices of bread. (Don’t assemble the sandwiches yet; each half is cooked separately, then combined.)
- ► Add one Gouda-topped piece and one filling-topped piece to the pan. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of water in the pan, and cover. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Sandwich the two pieces together, transfer to cutting board, halve, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining ingredients, adding more butter to the pan if necessary.