A Waldorf-ish Salad
One easy to make dinner item that my husband and I like to make is our version of a Waldorf salad.
The Waldorf salad was first introduced at the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan in 1893. It’s a salad that’s traditionally made with fresh apples, celery, walnuts and served on a bed of lettuce dressed with mayonnaise, or a mayonnaise-based dressing.
A while back, when my husband and I decided to order food for pick up one night from California Pizza Kitchen, he saw Waldorf salad on the menu and instantly wanted it. He said he remembered as a kid being on vacation and his mom ordering a Waldorf salad from room service, so he wanted to see what it was all about. CPK added on to the traditional salad by including the option of grilled chicken and gorgonzola cheese. They also offered the salad with any kind of dressing, which was good because mayonnaise in a salad just doesn’t really appeal to me. However, after seeing CPK’s version of a Waldorf salad, we quickly realized that it would be simple and easy to make our own Waldorf salad at home.
Since we turn our home-made Waldorf salad into an entree, rather than an appetizer salad, we also put grilled chicken into the salad. I start by taking chicken breast and slicing it lengthwise through the breast into 3 pieces to make it easier to grill, and so the chicken will really soak up the marinade that I add. I generally create a balsamic vinagrette with fresh garlic marinade that I put the chicken breast into. Since we’re generally in a hurry to cook and eat, the chicken only tends to marinade for 30 to 60 minutes. We’ll grill the chicken using a hot grill pan until it’s cooked through and hopefully has some nice grill marks. The grilled chicken then gets diced up into smaller, more edible pieces.
While the chicken is grilling, in another pan, we’ll candy the walnuts. Basically, walnuts go into a hot pan along with a generous drizzle of honey and a dash of salt. The mixture is allowed to coat the walnuts and reduce down until it creates a nice sticky candied walnut. The walnuts are added to a bed of spring mix greens. The spring mix will already have diced celery, apples (in our case, generally Fuji), and sliced grapes mixed into it. After the addition of the candied walnuts, we’ll throw in the sliced grilled chicken and a generous helping of crumbled gorgonzola cheese. All of these ingredients will be mixed together and ready to serve for dinner.
Waldorf salads usually should have raisins mixed into it as well, but I don’t like raisins and my husband does like raisins. So we compromise. We each serve ourselves salad into individual bowls and at that time he’ll add in raisins while I refrain from them. We used to not be so bright and we’d mix in the raisins, and once we served ourselves into our own bowls, I’d sit there and pick out the raisins and transfer them all to his bowl. At least we’ve gotten a bit smarter where the raisins are concerned.
Now are you wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about dressing for our salad? Well my husband is an anti-dressing, anti-sauce, anti-gravy, anti-anything you put on your food to enhance it’s flavor. He likes to eat things straight up they way they are put together. And this includes salad, where he’ll just eat the salad with no dressing, so basically greens and their fixings and no dressing! We’ve learned to compromise on this issue as well since I am pretty much a would-you-like-some-greens-with-your-dressing type of girl. I like to drown my salads in dressing. The dressing-to-salad ratio I employ is ridiculous. So what we’ll do is serve our selves a helping of salad, then I dump dressing (whatever’s handy at the time; home-made vinaigrette, store bought dressing, etc.) on top my salad. While my husband eats his salad dressing free.
At the end of the night, we both get salad that we love, made our way (mine with tons of dressing and his with no dressing and lots of raisins!).