This classic salad of apples, celery, and mayonnaise served on a lettuce leaf was created by maitre d’ Oscar Tschirky at New York’s famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896. Although the original salad contained only apples, celery, and mayonnaise (walnuts later became a staple), I’ve found several other additions to be a big hit (the version pictured here adds mint to the traditional recipe below).
- 2 Ginger Gold apples (substitutes: fuji, winesap, jonagold, pink lady, or gala)
- 1 Red Delicious apple
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 stalks celery sliced on the bias
- pinch of kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- Green leaf lettuce (enough for one leaf per serving of Waldorf)
Optional Yummy Additions
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/3 cup mint, chiffonade
- 1/2 cup red onion, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the walnuts for 7 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
- Chop the apples into medium bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl, toss them with the cider vinegar.
- Fold in the mayo.
- Add the celery and walnuts. Season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste and toss.
- (Optional) Add any additional ingredients from the Optional Yummy Additions above and toss.
- To serve, place a lettuce leaf on each plate and spoon the salad on the top.
How Not to Screw It Up
- You can’t just use any old apples. The ratio here is 2 greenish red to one bright red. We eat with our eyes first and this ratio makes a stellar visual presentation, but it is also a ratio of tart to sweet apples. Don’t get lazy. Use the apples listed here.
- It’s better to under-toast walnuts than to over-toast them (i.e. burn them). Err on the side of less time. Also, toasted even a little is better than raw. Toasting brings out the deep flavor. Don’t be lazy.
- As soon as you chop the apples, toss them with the cider vinegar. The vinegar will prevent the red delicious apples from turning brown (the Ginger Gold or subs don’t usually turn brown…or at least, not as quickly anyway).
- I strongly recommend white pepper here. It will blend with the mayo. Otherwise, black pepper will look like little specs of dirt in the mayo. Remember, we eat with our eyes first. Besides, dirt in food = bad (even if it only appears to be dirt).