Lidia’s Tomato Apple Sauce: cooking green apples with tomato sauce is a surprisingly good combination! Enjoy this fresh tasting sauce over a steaming plate of spaghetti, topped with plenty of cheese. Recipe adapted from the cookbook Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, which was sent to me as a complimentary review copy. Originally posted in 2012, updated recently with new photos and wine pairings.
The new cookbook arrived in the midst of apple picking season, so the recipe for Spaghetti in Tomato Apple Sauce caught my eye right away. Now, apples cooked with tomatoes to make a pasta sauce does sound a bit strange at first. No offense to us bloggers, but if I came across the idea on an unknown blog I’d just chuckle and pass on by. But when I saw it featured in Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees, I had to give it a closer look.
Lidia explains that this tomato apple sauce combination is common in the apple laden Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. That was good enough for me, and I’m glad I gave it a try! This is a refreshing tomato sauce with a nice bright taste. The apple flavor is not distinctive but rather contributes to the overall impression that this is something other than your typical pasta sauce. This follows Lidia’s recipe almost exactly, with a slight reduction in the celery called for; and the wording of the instructions slightly tweaked.
We hadn’t made this tomato apple sauce recipe in a few years, then was just as pleased with the recipe when we came back to make it recently. This most recent time we had a chance to test the dish out with an Alto Adige wine, based on the adage that what grows together goes together.
Wine Pairing for Spaghetti with Tomato Apple Sauce
When I first made this Spaghetti with Tomato Apple Sauce, I didn’t note the wine we had with it. This time I wanted to pair an Alto Adige with this dish, given that the recipe has its roots in that mountainous region in Northern Italy. We opened the 2013 Convento Muri-Gries Alto Adige Santa Maddalena ($16, 12.5% ABV) to go with our Spaghetti with Tomato Apple Sauce.
I had to do a bit of research to decode the meaning of the lengthy title of the wine. According to this page on Wine Searcher, Santa Maddalena is wine region in the Alto Adige DOC. Schiava is the predominant grape, with up to 15% Lagrein allowed.
The Convento Santa Maddalena features light scent of violets on the nose, with taste of cherry and licorice. Delicate in the mouth. As you might suspect, this Alto Adige wine pairs very well with the tomato apple sauce.
There was plenty of spaghetti leftover for a second meal, so I also got to try the dish with a Barbera. That worked pretty well, and is certainly a good option for the dish. But if you can find a red wine from Alto Adige, that is definitely the ideal pairing for this regional recipe!
- 3 cups canned pureed tomatoes, San Marzano recommended
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 lb. tart green apples, like Granny Smith (3 medium apples)
- 1 lb spaghetti
- ¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- salt to taste
- Pour 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into a skillet on medium heat. Add the celery and onion to the pan. Cook until the onions begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the pureed tomatoes, season with a bit of salt. As the tomatoes begin to simmer, peel and core the apples, removing seeds. Shred the apples, using coarse holes of a shredder or grater.
- When the tomatoes have cooked about 5 minutes, stir the apples into the sauce. Bring the skillet back to simmer, and cook the sauce uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring a bit here and there, until it has begun to thicken and the apple shreds are cooked and tender.
- As the tomato apple sauce cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop in the spaghetti, and cook it until al dente.
- Strain the pasta when done to your liking and combine with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce for a minute or two, until it is thoroughly coated and cooked just right. Turn off heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta and toss well. Serve the pasta immediately, passing extra cheese at the table. Enjoy with a glass of Italian red wine!
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of the book. My adventures with the recipes and opinions of my book are fully my own!