Waldorf Salads

Waldorf Salads have a long history in America, as noted in the exceprt from the Wikipedia page below. As Americans are wont to do, things have changed to suit different tastes over the years since it’s initial creation, giving us numerous ways to prepare and enjoy them.

From Wikipedia: “A Waldorf salad is a salad generally made of fresh apples, celery, grapes and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal.

The Waldorf salad was first created for a charity ball given in honor of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on March 14, 1893 at the Waldorf hotel in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896 the salad appeared in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf”.

The original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928.

Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing. A variation known as an Emerald Salad replaces celery with cauliflower. The salad also may include zest of oranges and lemons.

One thing about Waldorf style salads is that they are chunky rather than smooth. This allows an individual to experience not a mash of flavors, but individual spikes of flavor and texture. That aspect has always appealed to me personally, and has led to some outlandish tuna salad coming out of my kitchen!

CHICKEN WALDORF SALAD
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6
Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Gala apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together gently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.

 

TUNA WALDORF SALAD
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 12 ounce cans tuna in water (albacore recommended), drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place all cut ingredients into a large bowl.

Add mayo on top and fold together. Be gentle so the tuna remains chunky.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a bed of greens.

 

The Meat
Meat was not originally an ingredient in Waldorf salads, though it has become very popular over time. Chicken is likely the most popular protein source in use in the United States, though tuna, cubed ham and beef, turkey, and venison have all been seen in Waldorf style recipes. Leftover or broken meats are a popular source.

The Nuts
Nuts are also a later addition to the Waldorf salad. Use nuts that add a contrasting element to your salad. Walnuts are a dryer flavor with a softer texture. Pecans add a subtle sweetness and a stronger flavor. Almonds, whether they are whole, blanched, slivered or sliced, add a definitive hard texture and savory flavor.Pine nuts are generally smaller and have a popping mouth feel. Match your nut choice to your other ingredients and your individual tastes.

The Fruit
Grapes and apples are the tradition. Red grapes are the usual choice due to their size and sweetness.

Apples come in so many varieties that choosing one to your tastes can be problematic. The choices in the recipes above were made as examples of the use of a sweet apple and a tart one. Gala, Pink Lady, and a host of other firmly fleshed, round, sweet apples are available in most grocery stores. Granny Smith on the other hand is a consistently tart, firm apple that adds a bit of punch to the combined ingredients. Choose an apple that suits your tastes.

Celery
This is one ingredient I don’t particularly care for the taste of, but a lot of people do. It’s mildly sweet with extremely firm flesh, and adds a lot of fiber to the dish. Choose fresh stalks. De-vein them, removing the hard, fibrous strings from the backs of the ribs, and shop them into appropriately sized pieces. The leafy tops can even be used as a garnish for a finished salad.

The Binders
Mayonaise is the base binder for the Waldorf style salad. Adding spices, different types of mustard, or other similarly textures sauces can dress your salad up or down. Brown and honey mustard are quite popular.

The Spices
Be aware of the amount of salt, pepper or other spices used to cook the meat you use. This will add flavor to the salad and may negate the use of additional salt in your dish.
Curry is another wonderful addition to the Waldorf style salad. It adds a distinctive aroma and flavor to the other ingredients, and the sweet notes become more pronounced.

The Greens
Fresh baby spinach or mixed greens are used often as the serving base for Waldorf salads, though it’s very likely in the beginning to have been a pretty Romaine. Use what you like. Arugula is bitter, iceberg is mild, spinach has a texture all it’s own.

 

I hope you’ve found this dissection of the Waldorf salad as enlightening as I did writing it. This has been one of my favorite types of salad since I was a child, and is likely to remain on my personal menu for many years to come.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

Tokyo Bowl Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar – Clear Lake, Texas

Going out to dinner on a Saturday is always risky, but in this case it paid off. The service was a little slow, but we weren’t in any hurry, and our server was personable and helpful.

We decided to skip the appetizer this go-round and dive straight into the maki rolls. Next time, we may have to try dessert as well, as they have tempura Oreos. But I digress.

My dining companion and I ordered four rolls, as we usually do. One for me, one for her, and two to share.

She ordered the Popeye, which has salmon, spicy tuna, avocado, and spinach. Had I ordered it, I would have been disappointed, since the menu does not state that there is fish on top of the roll (I don’t like fish-topped rolls), but my dining companion loved it.

We ordered the Santa Monica (fried California roll with cream cheese) and the Ranch (grilled beef with cream cheese, onion, and jalapeno) to share. We both really enjoyed the Santa Monica, although she liked it better while it was hot and I liked it better once it had cooled. We agreed that the Ranch was good but not great. We’ve had great beef sushi, but the ranch fell a little short. The flavor was good, but the consistency of the rice seemed to be off and the beef wasn’t as tender as I would have hoped, making for a very chewy roll.

Me, I ordered the Hawaiian roll –tuna with avocado, pineapple, and macadamia nuts. Now I’m not usually a huge fan of tuna sushi, and I wasn’t sure how these ingredients would blend, but I was blown away. As I told my dining companion, this may very well be my favorite of all the sushi rolls I’ve ever eaten. No single flavor overwhelmed the others, and the somewhat crushed nuts added a little crunch without making it hard to eat. Delicious!

I think the only real complaint about this place is that sodas come in a can, limited the amount you can drink with your meal. This would not have been an issue had the server brought us water as well, but with spicy rolls, you really want to be able to soothe your palate with a cool drink! Next time, I’ll be sure to remind my dining companion to order water as well as her soda (I drink tea instead). And there will definitely be a next time!

A+

 

–LB