By Crystal Grobe

September may mark the ending of our beloved summer season, but it also marks the beginning of another wonderful season: fall. In the next month, many farmers markets will be closing up shop as harvests become sparser, but first, we get to enjoy one of fall’s finest offerings: apples. Whether you choose to visit an apple orchard or buy direct from the farmer at a market, apples are in season, so now is the time to buy. Here is a guide to finding a market or a farm near you.

I spent the last few days down in Des Moines, Iowa and had a chance to wander their downtown farmers market on Saturday morning. It is a surprisingly large market with a lot to offer. Come with an empty stomach because amidst the produce there are many food vendors selling burritos, sandwiches, egg rolls and even freshly made smoothies to fill you up, making the market an enjoyable place to be.

By far the most popular item this weekend had to be apples. It seemed that everywhere I turned a farmer was offering apple slices to taste. Honeycrisp appeared to be the draw, but many varieties were available, like this crisp and slightly tart Paula Red.

(credit: Cafe Cyan)

I bought a 3-pound bag from The Berry Patch for only $4.00. The price was almost unbelievable as other farmers were selling at $2.50 per pound, so I got a great deal. These particular apples I will be eating raw, but I plan to go apple picking so I can make this Apple, Honey & Goat Cheese Tart soon. It is a nice alternative to the traditional apple pie using puff pastry which can be found in the freezer section at the grocery store. Feel free to substitute cream cheese for goat cheese, but use full-fat cream cheese as it tends to handle cooking better.

Apple, Honey & Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Sugarlaws
(6 servings)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 small apples
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp butter, melted
6 ounces fresh goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 325°. Core, peel and slice the apples into thin half-moons. Set aside in a bowl with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

Roll out puff pastry to about 1/4″ thick, so that it covers a 9″ square tart pan. Roll puff pastry onto your rolling pin and lay it down on top of the tart pan. Press the dough into the corners and crevices to create a fluted crust.

Carefully spread a thin layer of goat cheese over the bottom of the puff pastry in the tart dish. Use a flexible spatula or your fingers as it can be difficult to spread.

Toss the apples with butter and honey to coat evenly. Spread in a uniform layer over the goat cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until apples are lightly browned and honey is bubbling. Remove, cool for ten minutes, and serve.

Crystal Grobe writes the Bite of Minnesota blog as well as Cafe Cyan.