Apples are in high season, and we have been recently blessed by a dear friend with an abundance of homegrown apples. This has given us a wonderful opportunity to revisit some of our favorite apple recipes and remember why they were standouts in the first place.

I am happy to share two of them with you again here today and hope you love them as much as we do.

Apple Spinach Salad

This is one of my favorite autumn salads, but it is so delicious that you will find yourself craving it all year long. This simple salad features Golden Delicious apples and thinly sliced red onion, which are marinated in a honey-grain mustard vinaigrette for two to four hours before being tossed with fresh baby spinach leaves.

Aside from its amazing flavor, the next best thing about this recipe is that all of the prep work can be done ahead of time so that you only have to toss the salad before serving, making it ideal for entertaining. This recipe serves eight people, but you can easily halve it for smaller groups or double it for large gatherings.

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Apple Spinach Salad is a delicious autumn dish that you'll crave all year long. Forum file photo
Apple Spinach Salad is a delicious autumn dish that you'll crave all year long. Forum file photo

This crowd-pleasing, rustic salad is versatile enough to enjoy with almost any main course, but we particularly like it with pork or ham, as the mustard in the vinaigrette pairs so well with those meats. Serve the salad immediately and enjoy!

Apple Spinach Salad

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Golden Delicious apples, thinly sliced, skin on

½ red onion, thinly sliced

2 six-ounce bags baby spinach leaves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix the honey, vinegar, mustard and olive oil together until well-combined. Add the sliced apples and onion and gently toss until evenly coated.

Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours but no more than 4 hours; the apple and onion will become too soft if left longer than 4 hours.

Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and pour in the dressing mixture. Add salt and pepper and toss until the leaves are evenly coated. Serve immediately.

To store: This salad is best when served immediately. Leftovers may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • This recipe can be halved for smaller groups or doubled for larger gatherings.
  • The vinaigrette mixture can be made several days in advance and refrigerated until ready to add the apples and onions.

Apples are in high season, so it's the right time to try a new apple recipe or two. Forum file photo
Apples are in high season, so it's the right time to try a new apple recipe or two. Forum file photo

Apple Pecan Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a perennial favorite for fall and winter desserts, with myriad flavor combinations available in recipes and at restaurants.

There is something so pleasing about this simple combination of bread, cream and eggs, which becomes its own comfort when combined with fruit, nuts and spices.

I love the ease and versatility of bread pudding, which can hold the form of whatever baking vessel you choose to use and also freezes beautifully. I have the best result when I cut it into individual pieces and wrap each one with plastic before freezing.

You can use a large baking dish, loaf pans or even muffin tins for individual-sized portions. I have even made mini loaves of bread pudding to give as gifts at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For this recipe, look for firm apples with a sweetly tart flavor, like Honeycrisp, Granny Smith and Pink Lady, as they hold up well during the baking process. This comforting dessert is at its best when served warm, topped with a large dollop of vanilla ice cream.

You can use a large baking dish, loaf pans or even muffin tins to make Apple Pecan Bread Pudding. Forum file photo
You can use a large baking dish, loaf pans or even muffin tins to make Apple Pecan Bread Pudding. Forum file photo

Apple Pecan Bread Pudding

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (half a stick)

2 cups diced apples, cut into ¾- to 1-inch cubes (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Pink Lady are best)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 eggs

1 ½ cups cream

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (optional)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

½ pound day-old bread, cubed (about 5 to 6 cups)

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat; add the apples, cinnamon and nutmeg cook over medium-low heat until apples are slightly soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, use a whisk to combine the eggs and cream together. Add brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently stir in the chilled apple mixture, then fold in the bread cubes and toasted pecans until evenly distributed.

Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, loaf pan or muffin tin and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. If using a loaf pan, fill pan to within an inch of the top; for muffins, fill to the top of each mold.

Create a water bath to ensure even baking: Place the pan with the bread pudding in the center of a larger pan and fill with warm water to halfway up the side of the smaller pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until the top is a rich, golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top appears to be overbrowning, place a piece of tinfoil loosely over it until finished baking. Oven temperatures vary, so check for doneness after 45 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

To store: Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days for best results.

To freeze: Bake first, cool, wrap in plastic and transfer to an airtight freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. For easy access, cut into individual portions before freezing, wrap each portion in plastic and place them in a freezer bag or container.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.