Joan Donatelle loves apples—any variety, any time of year, any recipe. But the author of Astonishing Apples is especially eager when fall rolls around and chefs begin to include seasonal apples throughout their autumn menus.
“I like to say that apples are a ‘superfood among us,’” Donatelle says. “It’s an ingredient we all know, we can all pronounce the name of, and it doesn’t cost $20 a pound. Apples are such a healthy and delicious choice.” The accessibility and durability of apples means they’re available and ready-to-go as the perfect touch for fall menu planning. “They’re great in both savory and sweet dishes, and in all kinds of beverages, including cocktails.”
While global agriculture has ensured that apples are available year-round, Donatelle is especially fond of locally sourced varieties in peak season. “I know that Granny Smith is a great year-round option, because it’s reliable, it doesn’t bruise easily and it lasts a long time, but this time of year I really encourage operators to ‘branch out’ with beautiful and local varieties.”
SnowSweet® apples are a relatively new variety that have quickly become one of Donatelle’s favorites. “It’s sweet, tart and almost buttery, it’s very crisp and excellent in sweet or savory applications,” she says. “What’s most important for restaurants is that it resists browning after being exposed to air. That makes it a perfect choice for salads, cheese boards, and other recipes where the apple is served raw.”
For cooked varieties, she’s partial to Honeygold and Haralson. “I love using Prairie Spy apples for pie, but sometimes that variety can be a little bit harder to find,” she says.
“I do a great make-ahead option by preparing apple chutney to have on hand for a sauce with trout or scallops,” she says. “Apples are always great sliced into sandwiches if you want to serve them raw. I’ve got a recipe in the book for a pizza that uses caramelized red onion, roasted apple and kale. It’s healthy, indulgent and very autumnal.”
Astonishing Apples by Joan Donatelle
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