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Apple crumble is an ideal way to capture rich pie taste

The arrival of apple season is a worthy consolation prize for the departure of summer. Leaves will soon be turning red and golden brown, but for now, I’m celebrating the original fall flavor (before pumpkin spice syrupy things took over the world): apples slow-baked in some form of buttery pastry, filling the house with welcoming aromas that beckon us to light a fire and gather around the dining room table where it’s warm and cozy.

Apple crumble is an ideal way to capture the flavors and toasty aroma of rich pies and tarts a little more healthily. Today’s Fall Apple Rosemary Crumble with Chia Seed recipe takes a few creative turns. I complement the apple filling with another classic autumn flavor: rosemary.

You can add a lot if you are a fan, or just a little if you want the tiniest bit of this chilly-weather-hardy herb. It’s a surprisingly perfect touch of fall that blends just right with the tart apples, and the lemon zest that I also added. While the filling is a little floral thanks to the rosemary, I still included just a tiny touch of cinnamon, but only in the oat-based crumble topping, exactly where it belongs: as a foil to the bright apple-y filling. You can leave the cinnamon out altogether if you aren’t a cinnamon fan — finally there’s an apple dessert recipe that won’t leave you wanting for more if you skip it.

The filling is thickened with a few spoonfulls of chia seed instead of cornstarch. Chia seeds soften as they plump during baking, and if you use white chia seeds, they will probably go completely undetected. Except that you will be high-fiving yourself for getting in some fiber and omega-3’s into dessert. What’s missing from this recipe is more than half the butter and sugar of typical crumble recipes, but if your family is anything like mine — and I have four young kiddos around the table — they won’t even miss it.

FALL APPLE ROSEMARY CRUMBLE WITH CHIA SEED

Servings: 8

Start to finish: 1 hour

Filling:

3 large or 4 medium baking apples, (mostly) peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, about 5 cups

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon raw sugar

2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, fresh or dried (or more if desired!)

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chia seed (white, if available)

Topping:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup whole oats

2 tablespoons almond flour (or very finely chopped almonds)

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon raw sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F, spray a 2-quart baking dish with an oil mister or nonstick spray. Make the filling: in a large bowl, toss apple cubes in the lemon juice, sugar, rosemary, lemon zest and salt. If the apple cubes seem dry, add an extra tablespoon or two of water to the mixture. Add the chia seeds and stir well.

Make the topping: in a large bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients with a fork. The mixture should look like clumpy sand. Place the filling into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the topping evenly over the top. Cover baking dish with lid or foil and bake until apples are tender and topping is golden, about 45 minutes.

Remove the lid or foil for the last 15 minutes of baking time. Once baked, allow the crumble to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 171 calories; 69 calories from fat; 8 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 11 mg cholesterol; 144 mg sodium; 28 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 4 g protein.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.”

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