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.
Back in the fall of 2012, I received a complimentary of Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrees (Amazon affiliate link).
With the cookbook arriving in the midst of apple picking season, for Spaghetti in Tomato Apple Sauce caught my eye right away. A unique combination!
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.
Making this recipe
This follows Lidia’s recipe almost exactly, with a slight reduction in the celery called for; and the wording of the instructions slightly tweaked. Here are some key tips for making this tasty apple pasta recipe:
- Use tart green apples like Granny Smith. That’s what Lidia recommends, and I haven’t tested this with other apples. We just used the red apple in the photo above because all the green ones were in the sauce!
- There’s a lot of tomato flavor in this recipe. Be sure to use high quality canned tomatoes, such as San Marzano.
- High quality Parmigiano cheese adds great flavor to this dish.
How to prepare the apples
Start by peeling the apples.
Core the peeled apple by slicing pieces off around the core, leaving pieces of the apple fruit to use. Discard (compost, ideally) the apple core.
You can shred the apple fruit pieces by hand with a grater, or put them in a food processor to shred, as we did. (Amazon affiliate link provided for the food processor brand we like)
When remaking this tomato apple sauce recently, I started by heating one Beyond Sausage (vegan sausage) in the pan. After it brown, I removed the sausage and let it cool. I prepared the recipe as I usually do, adding slices of the vegan sausage into the sauce toward the end of cooking. It added a nice substance to the dish.
You can also add a handful of spinach toward the end of cooking the sauce for additional flavor and nutrition.
We have also enjoyed making Lidia’s Swiss Chard and Potatoes, a nice side dish option.
If you like this recipe, you might also like our Asiago Lemon Spaghetti and Linguine with Meatless Meat Sauce. See our collection of Vegetarian Pasta Recipes for more ideas.
An Italian red wine with some acidity to balance the tomatoes is a natural choice here. We have tested a Barbera and a Northern Italian red wine wine with good results.
This recipe has its roots in the mountainous region of Northern Italy, so a wine from Alto Adige in that area is a natural choice.
The 2013 Convento Muri-Gries Alto Adige Santa Maddalena ($16, 12.5% ABV) is the Alto Adige red we chose to 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. Santa Maddalena is a 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.
We have more information on the Alto Adige region in this article.
I’ve also had Barbera with this apple tomato sauce recipe several times. The acidity in this Italian wine, typically hailing from the Piedmont region, makes it a good partner for tomato based sauces.
I have also served this dish with the 2018 Cantina del Pino Barbera d’Asti (appx. $18). The wine has earthiness and violets on the nose. Balanced acidity with cherry fruit on the palate.
The Barbera 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!
A Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is also a good option.Print
Lidia’s Spaghetti with Tomato Apple Sauce
Cooking green apples with tomato sauce is a surprisingly good combination! Enjoy this fresh tasting apple tomato sauce over a steaming plate of spaghetti, topped with plenty of cheese.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Yield: 5 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 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
- Cook the celery and onion. 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.
- Add tomatoes: Stir in the pureed tomatoes, season with a bit of salt.
- Prepare the apples: As the tomatoes begin to simmer, peel and core the apples, removing seeds. Shred the apples, using coarse holes of a shredder or grater.
- Add apples to sauce: 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.
- Cook the pasta: 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.
- Finish the dish: 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!
- The apples can be shredded by hand with a grater, or use the grater attachment of a food processor.
- I have tried this recipe without the celery and it was OK, but it comes out better with the celery included.
- Measurement shortcut: If you have a 28 oz can of tomatoes, pulling out ¼ cup (4 ozs roughly) leaves you with the 3 cups of tomatoes left in the can.
Keywords: apple tomato sauce, apple pasta, apple spaghetti
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of the book. My adventures with the recipes and opinions of my book are fully my own!
Waw, I’m super curious to try this! Such a creative idea! Looks delicious! Great way to twist a classic.
It is a delicious pasta dish!
What an interesting combo! Definitely worth a try though, your photos look delicious!!
One of my favourite books, so I knew I would love this 🙂 Thank you for the reminder of what a delicious dish this is – my family loved it!
I’m glad I have someone vouching for it here, it is an unorthodox combo!
Tomato apple sauce! That sounds and looks amazing!
Unusual but good combo!
Would it be advisable to showroom cook this? Would it be better the second day?
Hi Susan–this recipe is OK heated up as a leftover, but is best when the freshly made sauce is tossed with the just cooked pasta! Not sure what you mean by showroom cook it?
Steven's Wine and Food Blog
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco Ovello is one of my favorite Barbarescos. But I was unaware they also made a Barbara. Will definitely look for it. Thanks for sharing.
I think I’ve had their Barberesco, too, but it has been awhile! Need to grab a bottle again soon.
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