In New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Oscar Tschirky created the Waldorf Salad for a charity ball given in honor of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on March 14, 1896.
Originally it contained only apples and celery tossed with mayo and was served on a bed of lettuce.
By the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928 walnuts had been added — and it has had many various additions and twists since.
One such version, known as Emerald Salad, replaced celery with cauliflower — yet it contained absolutely nothing green! Since, however, it has become far more traditional to use cauliflower and Granny Smith apples — particularly for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States — for Emerald Waldorf Salad.
Other variations include such items as additional fruits, dates, raisins, berries, poultry, herbs and spices, lemon or orange zest, or replace mayo with yogurt or a vinaigrette dressing, or replace the celery with broccoli.
Sometimes tender green “eating” apples or firmer “baking” apples are also added along with the red apples for an additional splash of color as well as a bit of tartness or even completely replacing them.
Never a fan of the texture of raw celery, but loving the flavor, I actully omit the celery myself and add celery seed instead. I also love adding dried cranberries — otherwise known as cranberry raisins or crasins. I also like it with a tablespoon of spicy Dijon mustard added to the mayo. Sometimes I replace the walnuts with pecans or almonds. I’ve even added a bit of finely shredded carrots for another layer of color and flavor. I’ll either eat it ‘as is’, or serve it on top of lettuce leaf, or even on a bed of shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, cabbage slaw, or broccoli slaw.
It’s a salad … so you can tweak it anyway that you’d like — although it would technically no longer be an actual Waldorf. Then, again, the original vintage recipe was nothing more than just some apples and celery tossed with some mayo!
Today, the most commonly favored version is made with sweet red apples, celery, lemon juice, seedless red grapes, walnuts, and mayo.
1/2 cup mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups apples (Gala, Fuji, Ambrosia, Red Delicious, or any other red sweet apples), cored, and cut into 1/2-inch bite sized pieces
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Toss in the apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes a little at a time to coat.
Chill until ready to serve.
Serve on top of a lettuce leaf.