I have a love/hate relationship with fall, and it’s only a little over a month away. But, I’m prepared. In truth, even though it means summer is over and winter is just around the corner, it’s still my favorite season, and it has been since I was a kid growing up in Livonia, Michigan. Gee, I feel old now. Back then, Livonia was still a farming community, and you could still find tracks of land with old apple orchards. Many people lived in farm houses with small half-acre gardens.
It wasn’t unusual for me to pull a few apples off a roadside apple tree or snatch a cluster of concord grapes off one of my neighbor’s vines as I made my way to school or when I worked my paper route afterwards. Apples were a free snack. This was all before I became a chef and discovered so many more delicious ways to enjoy fruit. Especially apples.
Of course, the most popular way to enjoy apples is to eat them out of hand. The second most popular is likely in pies or fillings. Lately, however, apples are being featured more prominently in salads. Obviously, THE most famous (and probably the most popular) apple salad is the Waldorf salad. The Waldorf salad [WAWL-dorf] was created at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 not by a chef but by the maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky. It was an instant success.
The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise, but chopped walnuts later became an integral part of the dish. A Waldorf salad is usually served on top of a bed of lettuce when plated.
Classic Waldorf Salad (Makes 5 1/2 cups)
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise 1 TBSP Granulated Sugar 1 TBSP Lemon Juice 1/8 tsp. Kosher Salt 3 Medium Apples Cored, trimmed and diced in ½ to 1” pieces ½ Cup Chopped Walnuts
1.Combine first 4 ingredients. 2.Stir in remaining ingredients. 3.Cover and chill.
Other modern adaptations include: *Grapes *Raisins or other diced fruits (like apricots) *Toasted almonds instead of walnuts *Green or red onions *Celery seed
Another adaptation of this famous salad has a Far East flair, and I absolutely love it! It’s my Thai Apple Salad “Waldorf” Style.
Thai Apple Salad “Waldorf” Style (Yield: 6 cups or 6 to 8 servings)
4 cups Granny Smith Apples (4 med.), peeled, cored & diced ½” 1 tsp. Ginger, fresh, minced ½ tsp. Curry Powder (Oriental Hot preferred) ½ cup Celery, cut in ¼” dice ½ cup Peanuts, honey roasted ¼ cup Green Onion, cut in ¼” lengths Pinch – Cayenne Pepper 1 cup Mayonnaise Pinch – Salt ¼ cup Thai, Peanut Sauce (your favorite brand)
Combine all ingredients, except peanuts. Stir and chill until needed for service.
Top individual portions with additional honey roasted peanuts if desired.
At Nino’s, we also have a VERY popular apple salad that we call Nino’s Apple Cole Slaw. We’ve featured this salad and sampled it many times. It goes particularly well with grilled chicken and barbecued pork. In addition to the ingredients listed here, you can substitute pears instead of apples and add other sun-dried fruits. Even your favorite nuts!
Nino’s Apple Cole Slaw (Ingredients for 8 Portions:)
1 – 24 oz Package Nino’s Green Cabbage 2 Large Granny Smith Apples, julienned ½ Cup Carrots, cut matchstick size ½ Cup Sun-Dried Cherries 1 Cup Brianna’s Brand Poppy Seed Dressing 2 TBSP Lemon Juice Water as needed To Taste Salt & Pepper
Instructions 1. Mix together approximately 1 cup of water and the lemon juice. 2. Core apples, leaving the skin on, and julienne. Soak julienned apples in the lemon juice water for a few minutes, then drain well and add to a mixing bowl. 3. Add the remaining ingredients to the julienned apples and toss.
There are SO many delicious apple salad recipes that it’s unfair not to list them all, but I think you get the idea, and I hope you’ll consider preparing an apple salad for an upcoming meal. I think every Michiganian knows apples are a big business in these parts. As a matter of fact, they’re our state’s largest fruit cash crop, ahead of blueberries, grapes, tart cherries and peaches. In the heart of fall, it’s not uncommon to see as many as 20 different varieties of apples at Nino’s, many of them from our home state.
With all the usual suspects, and so many new apple varieties to choose from, it’s not always easy to know which variety is best suited for which recipe or for just eating out of hand. To help you find that perfect apple, we created our Nino’s Apple Guide, which you can find right in the apple section in each store. This helpful guide lists over 20 different apples with flavor characteristics and common uses.
It’s REALLY helpful! Best of ALL, it’s FREE!
Just like the apples from my neighbor’s tree. Shhhhhhh…