An Oldie but Goodie: 120 years and counting!

waldorf salad

The Classic Waldorf Salad A classic waldorf salad is composed of fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce as a starter course or entrée.  What a way to live up to the old Welsh adage “An apple a day….” Chopped chicken, grapes or raisins are the usual additions.  Yogurt instead of mayonnaise, a modern substitution. Oscar Tschirky, who was maître d’hotel at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City at the turn of the 20ieth century is credited with creating the recipe in 1893.  The salad also had a line in Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” in 1934, but then, so did broccoli!


1 good-sized red-skinned apple, cored and chopped into ¼ inch dice  – my favorite picks would be a Macoun or Macintosh (although a Granny Smith would taste as good and pair nicely with red grapes for contrast)

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup seedless grapes (or ¼ cup raisins or other finely diced dried fruit)
  • 2-3 T mayonnaise (or yogurt or a little of each)*
  • Zest of one lemon (opt.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Gently mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon and serve over fresh greens.   Add chopped chicken or turkey and voila, a classic that has stood the test of time -- 120 years to be exact! Not so classic take Substitute pear and hazelnuts for the apple and walnuts and use a Green Goddess Dressing like this one adapted from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers: Combine ¼ cup whole milk or greek-style yogurt with 1/3 cup mayonnaise,  1 T minced shallot (onion or garlic), 1 T fresh lemon juice or zest of one lemon and ¼ cup fresh green herbs – basil, parsley, dill or chives or mix thereof – and whisk all the ingredients together until creamy. Wine Pairing The French have a saying “Buy on apples, sell on cheese.”  Cheese mellows a wine, apple – well, acidic apple sours the taste.  A wine made from a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay grape both will work.    I’d try a white Bordeaux or sauvignon blanc from a California maker, and avoid the more citrus-y Australians and big grapefruit New Zealand types.   When your pocketbook allows though, definitely a Pouilly-Fume!