Waldorf Salad with Creamy Spiced Dressing
When’s the last time you had a Waldorf salad? It might have been awhile or maybe you’ve seen it on a classic steakhouse menu because this underestimated salad is old school. Popular years ago, it was first invented in the late 1800’s at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel by the maître d’ Oscar Tschirky. This creamy, crunchy salad deserves a place in the modern salad repertoire as well so I created this Waldorf Salad with Creamy Spiced Dressing.
My personal debut with Waldorf salad was in my dietetic internship when we decided to make one for the vets at the VA hospital in our food service rotation. Some of these WWI guys were BORN in the late 1800’s so at the time we were doing it, it was a definite crowd-pleaser. Simple to make, this salad is absolutely hearty and so it packs well for parties and picnics as well as for leftovers to take to work or school. The classic Waldorf salad may in fact be the underdog of salads.
The History of the Waldorf Salad
As I mentioned before, the Waldorf Salad has been seen on menus since the late 1800’s. It’s creator, Oscar Tschirky, designed the salad with only three ingredients: apples, celery, and mayonnaise. As the years went by, this classic salad was adapted and modernized with new ingredients. Some popular additions throughout the years were walnuts, hard boiled eggs, marshmallows, and many others. This classic salad has been served countless times all over the country.
I spruced up my version of the Waldorf salad by adding some additional ingredients to the typical apples, celery, and mayonnaise. I added some fresh oranges, fresh herbs, and even honey to create a delicious dressing to mix in rather than just plain mayo.
What I love about the Waldorf salad is that it can be personalized while still containing its traditional elements. The apples are a great source of soluble fiber and have a lot of antioxidant properties. They also have prebiotic effects and may promote good bacteria in the gut. Celery is packed with so many vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, K, and C along with minerals such as potassium and folate. Celery is also a great source of many important antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. I like to add a bed of greens to my Waldorf salad because it provides the salad with more fiber, along with more vitamins and minerals. This Waldorf Salad with Creamy Spiced Dressing is packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a salad you can’t miss out on!
Making the Waldorf Salad with Creamy Spiced Dressing
Traditionally, Waldorf Salads don’t contain a lot of leafy greens. The lettuce is usually just used as a bed to place the apple/celery/mayonnaise mixture. However, for my interpretation of this classic salad, I decided to up the amount of greens because they contain so many amazing health benefits. Leafy greens are packed with fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals and make sure a great addition to this salad. I chose to go with romaine lettuce because it adds a nice crunch, freshness, and is rich in many vitamins and minerals. However, feel free to substitute with your favorite leafy greens if romaine isn’t for you! A great mixture of greens, such as arugula, spinach, and kale, would work so well with this salad as well!
For my take on the Waldorf Salad, I decided to spice up the traditional mayonnaise dressing by adding some additional ingredients. I started with a base of mayonnaise, and feel free to substitute regular mayo out with vegan mayo if desired, and mixed in some non-fat plain yogurt. Plain yogurt (regular or greek) is such an amazing addition to dips, sauces, and dressings because it provides that thickness and creaminess while also packing in some amazing nutrients. Yogurt is loaded with probiotics, which are active bacterial cultures that help keep your gut healthy. They are known as “good” bacteria because they help your body digest food and help the cells in your intestines in preventing any “bad” bacteria from entering your bloodstream. Adding a small amount of yogurt to this dressing helps increase its creaminess but also provides so many benefits. Also, feel free to use dairy-free yogurt as well!
After the mayo and yogurt are combined, I mix in some orange juice and orange zest, honey, some fresh parsley, and salt and pepper. Once combined, I set the dressing in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the rest of the salad. In regards to the honey, feel free to remove or substitute with a vegan-friendly sweetener to balance out the acid in this dressing.
Putting it all together
To begin making this delicious Waldorf salad, I first prepared the apples, celery, and grapes to be used later. I diced the apples and celery while I halved the grapes. For the apples, I prefer to keep the skin on because that’s where all of the amazing nutrients are in apples. However, feel free to feel the apples prior to dicing them if you aren’t a huge fan of the skin. Once these are ready, I set them aside for later.
I then lay down a bed of lettuce, first by lining a large bowl with the larger lettuce leaves and then filling a separate bowl with smaller, bite-sized pieces of lettuce. I then gently fold in the apples, celery, and grapes to the bowl of bite-sized lettuce. I then remove the dressing from the refrigerator and add to the salad, folding gently to coat all of the ingredients. Once combined, I add the mixture to the bowl lined with large lettuce leaves and top with chopped pecans. I love adding pecans to any salad because they provide such amazing healthy fats and such a nice crunch to the salad.
Waldorf Salad with Creamy Spiced Dressing
- 2/3 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain dairy or non-dairy yogurt
- 1/2 medium orange, juiced with seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed and dried
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium red apple cored and diced
- 1 cup seedless purple grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Mix mayo, yogurt, orange juice and zest, honey, parsley, salt and pepper in small bowl to blend. Set aside in refrigerator to chill for about 5-10 minutes.
- Line a large bowl with large outer leaves of lettuce. Chop remaining leaves into bite-size pieces and add to a separate bowl. Gently fold in celery, apple, and grapes. Add dressing to salad and fold gently to coat.
- Serve the salad in lettuce leaf lined bowl, garnish with pecans and serve chilled.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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