If you're looking for a simple apple salad, you're in the right place. There's a reasonable chance that you have the ingredients needed to make it sprinkled around your kitchen - on counter tops, or in the crisper. And if not, there are lots of ways to make substitutes. It's hearty and substantial, colorful and crunchy - made with heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is crème fraîche (or sour cream) spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar.
Apple Salads - All About the Crunch
This salad is big on crunch. And that alone is likely the reason it has become a fall favorite. There's crunch from crisp apples, celery, and nuts. Pair that with the creaminess in the dressing? It's a nice contrast. My main tip? Seek out crisp apples with good flavor. And pass on mealy apples.
Think of this recipe as more of a sketch than anything else. I used arugula because it's what I had on hand, but the baby gems at the market looked great and would have been a nice substitute. Same goes for the nuts. Toast whatever you have on hand - pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. And on the dressing front, crème fraîche brings a beautiful luxe texture into the mix, but you can certainly use sour cream or even yogurt, and whatever good-tasting white wine vinegar you like.
Slicing the Apples
Another variable you can experiment is the cut of the apple. You can see my preferred slices up above. They thick enough to retain some snap, and bite-sized. I like them sliced this way so you can get a bit of everything on a fork - some arugula, apple, nuts, etc. But if you really love apples, add more and slice them thicker. I also have it in my notes to do an apple salsa of sorts - with everything chopped smaller & a few serrano chiles chopped and added to the mix. For use on winter panini, and the like.
The dressing is great on all sorts of things. Not just apple salad. It's decadent drizzled over roasted potatoes (or sweet potatoes!), as a finishing kiss for mushrooms, or as a slather on panini. I also love it drizzled over oven-roasted broccoli, or a medley of sheet-pan baked vegetables.
Your Apple Salad Ideas
Over the years you've left some great suggestions and variations in the comments. I'm going to highlight a few and also encourage you to let us know of any riffs on the recipe you enjoy in the future!
- Amanda says, " I grated a half a celery root into the salad as well, which boosted the yummy celery flavor and added another texture. So good!"
- Chase brilliantly swapped in pears, "I have made this salad 8 times in the last 10 days!!!! An instant favorite! Hazelnuts were the nut of choice and a pear/apple mix with some added Rosemary crostini crumbled in gives it a great crunch!!!"
- Dana turned it into more of a main dish, "I added some cooked and cooled wheat berries to this salad and it was divine! Nutty crunch and great nutrition to bulk it up for a main course dinner."
- Kara introduced a few ingredients, "“Hallelujah!” is what I thought when I bit into this salad today for lunch! I substituted baby broccoli for the celery, used walnuts, and some sliced Parmesan."
Have fun and poke around for more salad recipes, or more fall recipe inspiration. I love this Genius Kale Salad, this Shaved Fennel Salad from Super Natural Every Day, this pure Cilantro Salad for the cilantro fans out there, and for more of a main, this Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad is always a go-to.
Heirloom Apple Salad
A bit of hard, aged cheese is welcome here as well - shave of thin strips and add toward the end.
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 12 rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml crème fraîche (or sour cream)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 large celery stalks, sliced thinly
- 2 crisp heirloom apples, cut into sixths, and then thinly sliced*
- 4 handfuls arugula, baby gems, or baby romaine
- 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts
Make the dressing first. Crush the sea salt, rosemary, garlic, and sugar into a paste with a mortar and pestle (or smash it all together with a knife). Work in the creme fraiche and vinegar, taste and adjust with a bit of pepper and more salt if needed.
When you're ready to serve, combine the celery, apples, salad greens, and most of the nuts with a few half of the dressing. Toss well, adding more dressing until it is to your liking. Finish with the remaining nuts, and any torn celery leaves.
* If you're not going to use the apples immediately keep them in a bowl of water spiked with a bit of lemon juice (or the white wine vinegar you're using for the dressing). Drain and pat dry before using.