I spent the day today doing something I love to do…creating a new recipe from an old classic. I will say it a hundred times over that classics are classics for a reason. When a dish is not only remembered, but made, ordered, and enjoyed for decades, it’s because it has a tendency to not just taste good, but to make you feel things. It stirs emotions, gleans light on old memories, creates a setting for new ones.
Such is the case with the classic Waldorf Salad, originating from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The dish is ordered 20,000 times a year in the restaurant. Made from simple, fresh ingredients that are carefully chosen and presented in a show-stopping fashion, it’s not just a salad, but a tradition in it’s own right.
The dish has gone through many versions through the years, each chef placing his mark on it, making it his own, yet holding true to it’s original form. Right now, the Astoria serves it with a crème fraiche and yogurt dressing, slivered apples, and a walnut straw placed perfectly in a dried apple chip.
California Walnuts has teamed up with the Waldorf Astoria of New York to sponsor a very exiting recipe contest called Waldorf Salad Refresh! For this contest, you create an original version of the salad containing the required ingredients: Walnuts, Apples, and Celery.
The prize…..$5000 and a trip to NYC to stay at the Waldorf Astoria and to have your salad featured on the hotel’s menu!
Since I’ve dreamed of staying at the Waldorf Astoria since the first time I set eyes on it back in 2005 through a taxi cab window, I knew I had to do something amazing for this contest. Even Chad was excited when I mentioned this opportunity, I mean it’s the Waldorf Astoria people!
I really wanted my dressing to have a savory, full-bodied flavor to set off the sweet, crisp apples, the clean celery flavors, and the rich, crunchy walnuts. I wanted the garnishes to enhance the salad, and the dish to have an irresistible mouth-feel, all served up in a pretty presentation.
I think I did good. Isn’t she purty?
I used Granny smith and Gala apples along with a whole celery root as the base. I sent them all through the spiralizer , coated them in a velvety dressing, and plated them up like pasta. Having the apples and the celery root cut like this doesn’t just look pretty, it makes the apples seem even crisper and allows for more surface area to soak up the scrumptious dressing. The shape also makes for easy eating. The baby arugula adds a peppery bite and a whimsical look to this pretty plate. A chiffonade of fresh celery leaves crowns the top. Celery leaves are an underutilized and underappreciated ingredient-they are fresh, clean, and make a lovely garnish.
AND THOSE WALNUTS! They are candied on the stovetop in brown sugar and pungent spices and are completed with a dash of sea salt. They add richness and crunch to this salad and are really the stars of the show.
Make extra for a little snack later…you won’t have any regrets about it.
The walnuts are also the main ingredient in the palmier pastry that I made to garnish the dish. The flavor of the nuts really comes to the forefront after being baked inside the golden pastry in the oven.
Some of the versions of this salad contain black truffles, and since those aren’t in the budget, I used a pungent white truffle oil in the dressing to achieve the same flavor. Celery salt works to highlight the flavor of the main ingredients in this salad, while good quality Greek Yogurt provides a creamy, but not heavy, base.
I thoroughly enjoyed creating and especially eating this salad. I can’t wait to to serve it to my family and friends. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Here’s the recipe!