In the early fall, I like to make the most out of local apples and prepare them many different ways, both sweet and savory. As much as I like apple pie and other sweet apple treats, I think apples are great in savory dishes too. I especially like to use tart, crunchy varieties, which I think are wonderful additions to salads and slaws.
A few years ago, I was looking for an elegant appetizer to start a meal that would be entirely dedicated to the apple. I was looking for a creative, fresh idea, and found a tartare in a book that highlights farmers and produce from Île d’Orléans, an island just 20 minutes outside of downtown Québec City. Modest in size, Île d’Orléans is mostly rural and it is often nicknamed Québec City’s pantry. From early June to late October, most fruits and vegetables that are found at Québec City’s farmers’ markets come from this historic island and in September, the apple is the star. Over a dozen varieties are harvested on the island: you’ll find the quintessential MacIntosh and Cortland, but also the Honey Crisp, Jonamac, and Royal Court, varieties that are less familiar to me.
I’ve used many different apple varieties in this colorful Salmon Apple Tartare, but the one I most often go back to is the bright green Granny Smith apple. The snappy crunch of the Granny Smith is a welcome texture addition to the tartare, its slightly tart taste works really well with other savory ingredients, and its complementary color makes the dish even more appealing. You can substitute any crunchy apple variety you can find locally, such as the Red or Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or Jonagold.
I like to serve this elegant Salmon Apple Tartare in a verrine--that is, in a clear glass–so you can admire its bright colors and fresh ingredients. What makes a tartare so beautiful and enjoyable to eat is the layers of textures it features, so make sure to pay close attention to the way you prepare the salmon and remaining ingredients: use a sharp knife and dice everything a similar size. It may take you a bit more time to prep, but I promise it’s worth the extra effort. This Salmon Apple Tartare is quite easy to make, but each and every element plays an essential role in the bright, crisp, zesty, and creamy result. It’s an elegant appetizer that would also look smashing served in individual spoons at a cocktail party.
Makes 4 appetizer servings.
This Salmon Apple Tartare combines bright, crisp, zesty, and creamy flavors to produce an elegant appetizer that highlights fall's quintessential fruit.
40 minPrep Time
40 minTotal Time
Place the diced, fresh salmon in a nonreactive bowl and add the cider vinegar and the salt. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In a large, nonreactive bowl, whisk together the olive oil, yogurt, red onion, capers, garlic, lime zest and juice, and Tabasco. Add the diced hot smoked salmon, apple, and Cheddar cheese, and toss gently. Add the marinated salmon (discard excess cider vinegar) and gently toss to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve the Salmon Apple Tartare in small bowls or transparent glasses. Decorate with apple slices, lime wedges, and fresh basil leaves. Serve with toasted baguette slices.
Neatly dicing fresh salmon can be tricky. To make things easier, freeze the fillet for 20 minutes: it'll firm up its flesh and be much easier to dice.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com
Adapted from the book Farmers in Chef Hats, by Linda Arsenault.