Unstuffed Savory Apples

I’ve written about my love for stuffed apples before (twice, because that’s how deeply my love for stuffed apples runs), and I might just write about them again.  Why?  Well, this time it’s because I’ve changed the recipe in some fairly significant ways (like the stuffing process), and my way is faster, easier, and I happen to like the apple to stuff ratio better, too.  What’s not to love?  I also wanted to make this recipe one more time before our apple cider supply totally dries up for the season.

Stuffed apples are positively beautiful, in my opinion.

photo by John Autry

Don’t you want to eat that immediately?

I also like plain old apples.

ImageThis is one of the Rome apples that was about to meet its maker in our kitchen.  Even though stuffed apples turn regular apples into a fancy work of art, here is my cooking recommendation: enjoy the pretty apple, then chop it up.  All of that extra surface area equals a happy stomach.  Why happier?  Because you’ll get to eat earlier.

cooked apple

Unstuffed Savory Apples

(makes 4-5 servings in approximately 55 minutes)


  • 2/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup apple cider (or apple juice or even chicken broth, if cider is out of season)
  • 4 large Rome apples, chopped (feel free to use any apples you prefer–I used 1/2 Granny Smith because I love their tartness)
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (the kind that comes in a lump like ground meat, not sausage links)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary (they would both be delicious, but I used thyme)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (or a combo of Swiss and Parmesan or whatever you have in your fridge)


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan.  Stir in rice.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Combine cranberries and cider in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high for 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes, then add to rice as it continues to simmer.
  3. Preheat broiler to low.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan.  Add chopped apple, yellow onion, and next 3 ingredients (through pepper); add additional butter or olive oil if the sausage drippings seem insufficient to cook the veggies (probably not necessary); sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sausage, onion mixture, walnuts, and next 2 ingredients (through thyme/rosemary) to rice; toss. Transfer mixture to baking dish (any size that works for you–I picked a medium-sized round dish). Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

I’ve already eaten this meal three times this week, and I’m sad that the leftovers are almost gone.  That, my friends, is a happy problem.

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