Vivid foliage, crisp air, and pumpkins are autumnal stalwarts, but to me the apple is the king of fall in New England. I love chasing down heirloom varieties I haven’t tried, drinking rich, complex unpasteurized ciders, and working apples into every course of a meal. That includes salads, for sure, such as the three seasonal favorites here.
I love too many apple varieties to name, but reliable local favorites include Jonagold, Jonathan, Ginger Gold, Cameo, Macoun, Cortland, Empire, and Honeycrisp.
Black Pepper-Caramelized Apple Salad
Between the strong radishes, the sweet apples, the bittersweet notes in the caramel, and of course the black pepper, this salad packs a flavor wallop.
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1 small)
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large head romaine lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn in
2- to 3-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
¾ cup thinly sliced radishes (about 6 large)
¼ cup sugar
2 medium crisp, sweet-tart apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, shallot, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to dissolve the salt. Vigorously whisk in the olive oil to blend. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Add the romaine and radishes and toss to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat. Spread the salad on a serving platter, and set aside.
Pour ¼ cup water into a large, heavy skillet or straight-sided saute pan with a shiny interior, then pour the sugar into the center of the water. Set the pan over medium heat and heat, swirling the skillet once or twice to evenly moisten the sugar, until the sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Cook the sugar mixture, swirling the skillet occasionally at first and more often as mixture browns, until evenly caramelized and copper colored, about 6 minutes longer (mixture may smoke).
Working quickly but carefully, slowly pour in the apples (with the bowl facing away from you) and gently toss to coat them with caramel. Add ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and continue to cook and stir until the apples are warmed through but not soft, about 1½ minutes.
Scatter the apples evenly over the salad, drizzle with some of the caramel remaining in the skillet, and serve at once.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad
For a subtle nutty flavor in the vinaigrette, substitute 2 tablespoons of walnut or hazelnut oil for an equal quantity of olive oil.
Consider topping this salad with a sprinkling of chopped toasted walnuts or sliced almonds, some crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese, or both. Adding both nuts and cheese makes it hearty enough to be a light meal.
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the core (about 5½ cups)
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1½ tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 small)
2 teaspoons honey
1 large head Boston, bibb, or other butter lettuce, washed, dried and leaves torn in 2- to 3-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
1 large, crisp sweet-tart apple (about 10 ounces), quartered, cored, and quarters cut crosswise into thin slices (about 3 cups)
1½ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed, torn if large
With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Arrange the sprouts with the cut sides down on a large rimmed baking sheet (keep the bowl handy) and roast until sprouts are just tender and the bottoms are browned, about 15 minutes. Allow the sprouts to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallot, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to dissolve the salt. Vigorously whisk in the honey and ¼ cup oil to blend. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
In the empty large bowl, toss the lettuce with half the vinaigrette to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat. Spread lettuce on a serving platter. In the same bowl, gently toss the Brussels sprouts, apple, and parsley with the remaining vinaigrette to coat (try to separate any apple slices that stick together). Arrange the mixture over the lettuce on the platter and serve at once.
Tip: Caramel Equipment
Coleslaw With Apples, Rosemary, and Hazelnuts
Makes 8 cups
Chopping the rosemary with a little kosher salt helps to break it down and release its flavor.
This coleslaw was inspired by a salad recipe on 101cookbooks.com. I keep it on the dry side to help the nuts retain their crunch.
1¼ pounds green cabbage (about half a medium-small head), finely shredded (about 9 cups)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup creme fraiche
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon pressed or grated garlic (about 1 large clove)
¼ cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium)
1 medium crisp, sweet apple, cored and cut into thin matchsticks (about 1½ cups)
2 medium celery ribs, trimmed and very thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped
In a colander or large strainer set over a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with 1 tablespoon salt to mix. Allow cabbage to stand until it wilts slightly, at least 1 and up to 4 hours. Rinse the cabbage well under very cold running water; drain well and dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, transfer to a large bowl, and fluff up with your fingers (you will have about 7 cups; cabbage can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days).
On a cutting board, sprinkle the rosemary with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and chop until rosemary is pulverized and very fragrant, and salt is a little pasty. Scrape the rosemary salt into a medium bowl, add the creme fraiche, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, garlic, shallot, and pepper to taste, and whisk to blend well. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
Add the dressing, apple, celery, parsley, and most of the hazelnuts to the cabbage and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts, and serve.
Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to email@example.com. Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.