Hazelnut-Apple-Cheese Pockets


This nutty, nutritious sandwich travels well for lunches and picnics because it uses ingredients that don't spoil quickly. Even the youngest of young chefs can help make this sandwich, but adults may need to chop the apple and toast the nuts and seeds. To toast and skin the hazelnuts ahead of time, see the "Toasting and skinning hazelnuts" sidebar or substitute bits of pecans, walnuts, or cashews instead.

  • Prep time: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 pita sandwich halves (2 whole pita sandwiches)

Do this first:

  • Toast and crush hazelnuts into small bits (see the "Toasting, skinning, and crushing hazelnuts" sidebar, later in this chapter).
  • Shred 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, or use pre-shredded cheese.
  • For the most flavor, toast and bruise 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (see the "Toasting seeds and spices" sidebar, later in this chapter). Or, use untoasted caraway seeds.

Ingredients and steps:

  • 1 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple
  • 1/2 cup crushed, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard, or mustard of preference
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds
  • 2 pita breads
  • Lettuce leaves, as desired
  1. Core and coarsely chop the apple into small bits, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch in size. Place in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the crushed hazelnuts and yogurt.
  3. Stir in the cheese, mustard, and caraway seeds.
  4. Cut each pita in half and fill each pocket with the apple mixture and a piece of lettuce.

Vary It! Try the following variations:

  • For a sweeter taste, use honey-mustard.
  • Serve the spread on rye bread to enhance the caraway flavor.
  • Try different cheeses.
  • Replace the caraway seed with toasted cumin or fennel seed.
  • Serve the mixture as a salad, on shredded lettuce.

Meal Morphing: To meal-morph the main ingredients into a differently seasoned salad, triple the amounts of apple, yogurt and hazelnuts. After Step 2 in this recipe, reserve 2/3 of the mixture and use it in the Yogurt-Waldorf Salad in Chapter 19.


Toasting, Skinning, and Crushing Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are sweet and flavorful with a thin, brown skin that must be removed before using them in salads, sauces, desserts, and other recipes. If you can't find already-skinned hazelnuts, remove the skin yourself by spreading the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 275 degrees oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the skin cracks all over and begins to flake off.

At this point, kids can be a big help by rubbing the nuts in an old, clean towel—the skins slip off easily (do this outdoors for easy clean-up). Don't be concerned if some of the skin stays on—it adds a pleasant contrasting color and flavor. To crush hazelnuts into smaller pieces, place them in a plastic bag and smash them with the side of a can or rolling pin. After skinning, store the prepared hazelnuts in a zipper bag in the freezer. Look for hazelnuts in bulk at whole food stores and some farmers' markets.


Toasting Seeds and Spices

Toasting spices such as whole caraway, fennel, cardamom, and cumin seeds brings out their flavorful oils. To do this, try the following:

  • Toast the seeds in a small, dry skillet on medium heat, shaking the pan often, until the seeds release their aroma and darken slightly (this can take from a few seconds to three minutes—different spices release their oils at different times).
  • Be careful not to burn the seeds, which gives them a bitter taste. If they taste bitter, discard them and start again.
  • To further draw out the toasted flavor, bruise or crush the seeds on a cutting board with a rolling pin, or in a mortar and pestle, as shown in Chapter 3. To grind them to a fine powder, use a clean electric coffee bean grinder or mortar and pestle.

Recipes: Breakfasts, Brown-Bags, & Breads


Recipe © 1999 by Kate Heyhoe

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Part I: Cooking Together:
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Part II: Putting the Meal Together—Together!

Part III: Cooking 101:
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Part V: Tips In Tens