Adding beets to an apple crisp may seem strange, but their earthy flavor pairs perfectly with the tart sweetness of the fruit—so don’t be intimidated by this unexpected combination. The juices from the beets stain the apples the prettiest pink color and thicken into a vibrant red sauce that bubbles up the sides of the skillet like lava. Cooking the beets in butter before adding the apples makes sure they come out perfectly tender, so don’t skip this step. It also gives the butter an opportunity to brown, adding a subtle nutty flavor to the filling.
Instead of serving this crisp with vanilla ice cream, I like to make a quick four-ingredient tangy vanilla goat cheese topping and serve it on the side for an additional hit of savoriness. You can make it ahead of time, stash it in the fridge, and take it out as soon as the crisp is done baking for a cold, tart contrast to the warm bubbling skillet. It’s your classic apple crisp recipe—just a tad bit savory and a whole lot prettier. —Jesse Szewczyk
6 to 8
1 1/4 cups
old-fashioned rolled oats
(3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
beets (about 4 medium beets), peeled and diced
Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium apples), peeled, cored, and diced
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (176°C).
To make the topping: Combine flour, oats, melted butter, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and mix using your hands until large clumps form. Set aside.
To make the filling: Melt butter in a large 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add beets and cook, stirring often, until fork-tender and lightly browned on the edges, about 12 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
To the cooled skillet, add apples, brown sugar, orange juice, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Toss to thoroughly coat the apples and beets. (If your skillet is too small, transfer the mixture into a large bowl, toss to coat, and pour back into the skillet.)
Distribute prepared topping evenly over beets and apple mixture. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides are bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes.
As the crisp is cooling, make the tangy vanilla goat cheese: Whisk yogurt, goat cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl until smooth. Serve alongside crisp and spoon onto individual servings.