I love delicious food that also has history. The Waldorf Salad is a prime example of such a dish. It is associated with the famous Waldorf Hotel (the precursor of the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) in New York City, where it was first created sometime between 1893 and 1897.
The Waldorf Salad is known to be first made by Oscar Tschirky, who was the head waiter of the Waldorf Hotel at that time. Mr Tschirky was known about his culinary creativity. He never worked as a chef, but he developed many of the hotel’s signature dishes. His cook book entitled “The Cook Book” contains the original recipe, which was fine tuned later, when it appeared in “The Rector Cook Book” in 1928.
The traditional Waldorf Salad contains fresh apples, celery and walnuts and it is served on a bed of lettuce. It is often served with mayonnaise. Sometimes chicken, turkey, grapes and dried fruit appear in the salad’s contemporary versions. Healthier interpretations tend to use a yoghurt-based sauce instead of the mayo.
The vegetarian version that I like to prepare is based on the traditional recipe, but it contains chickpeas for a bit of protein boost. I tend to use a yoghurt-based sauce and I normally serve it with baby spinach leaves instead of lettuce.
- 120 ml plain full-fat yogurt, preferably Greek-style
- 1 teaspoon of mustard, preferably Dijon type
- 1 teaspoon of honey or agave nectar
- Salt according to taste (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
- Freshly ground black pepper according to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
- 400 gram can of chickpeas (drained)
- 2 ribs of celery (finely chopped)
- 1 apple (chopped into small pieces)
- 1 medium-sized bunch of red grapes (cut the grapes into halves)
- 1 medium-sized red onion (diced into small pieces)
- 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
- 100 grams of walnuts (roughly chopped)
- 1 bunch of fresh baby spinach leaves
- Chop up the celery, apple, red onion, grapes, parsley and walnuts and combine them with the chickpeas in a large salad bowl.
- Add the spinach leaves and combine with the salad mixture.
- Prepare the dressing by combining the yoghurt, mustard, honey, salt and pepper and mix the ingredients well.
- Stir in the dressing gently but thoroughly.
- Refrigerate the salad for half an hour before serving.
The salad is perfect as a light meal. Alternatively, it can be offered as a side dish with more substantial oven-baked meals, pastas or risottos.