If you follow food trends, fall seems to have two dominant flavors — pumpkin and apple. We already saw the first creep up on us when Caribou Coffee started touting its pumpkin spice drinks before Labor Day, and now the apple brigade is picking up steam. In addition to apple crisp, apple cider doughnuts, and applesauce, apples pop up in sandwiches, too, particularly those starring cheese in some capacity. But rather than pay bucks for a fancy apple and cheese sandwich elsewhere, it’s just as easy (and probably cheaper) to make your own at home. But do us a favor: skip the usual cheddar, and go with a local goat cheese for a tasty twist on tradition.
Seriously, goat cheese? An ingredient many people associate more with delicate spring dishes than hearty fall ones? Absolutely. But it’s essential you pick a goat cheese with more heft and zest than your typical chevre. Luckily, we have such a one at our disposal: Granite Ridge, a cave-aged goat cheese made in Kimball, Minn., at Donnay Dairy. This bloomy-rind cheese offers more ooze — and goaty punch — than a light, lemony-fresh goat cheese, and thanks to its inherent softness, it melts much more smoothly than a firm cheddar.
Now before you protest that you don’t like goat cheese, consider the pairing — a spicy-sweet jam made with pears, apples, and ginger. St. Paul-based Lucille’s Kitchen Garden makes a fabulous variety featuring those ingredients, and slathering a thick layer on your bread (we used a New French Bakery ciabatta roll) before adding the Granite Ridge ensures a perfect balance between barnyard and orchard flavors. Add a few thin apples slices, too, for crunch, but the jam will tame any overwhelming goatiness on its own.
Add a cup of tomato soup or chili, and you’ve got a hearty fall meal that doesn’t cost much more than your usual grilled cheese. Save those pennies for more pumpkin spice lattes.
Granite Ridge Grilled Cheese
Yield: One hearty sandwich
2 oz Donnay Dairy Granite Ridge aged goat cheese
2 tbsp Lucille’s Kitchen Garden ginger pear jam
3-4 thin apple slices
1 ciabatta roll
1. Cut ciabatta roll in half crosswise and spread the jam on the bottom half.
2. Slice the goat cheese and layer on top of the jam. Top with apple slices and the top of the ciabatta roll.
3. Heat a medium-to-large skillet on medium heat and add a generous pat of butter to coat the pan.
4. Add the sandwich to the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until bottom begins to brown.
5. Turn over the sandwich and cook another 5-7 minutes. If serving with soup, place the bottom of the heated soup pot on top of the sandwich to act as a makeshift panini press.
6. Cut in half and serve with soup or salad.
Note: You can substitute shredded cheddar cheese for the goat cheese. Make it the good stuff from Wisconsin.
Donnay Dairy cheese and Lucille’s Kitchen Garden jam can be purchased at Surdyk’s, 303 E. Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis; 612.379.9757.