[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the second entry on apples.]
As I was finally catching up on some long overdue blog reading the other night (and please forgive me if I haven’t been leaving as many comments as I used to–I promise I’m still reading!), I came across Diann’s post mentioning her 4-year blogiversary (congrats, Diann!).
It suddenly struck me that I’ve missed my own 2-year anniversary (at the end of October). Could it be that I’m preoccupied with end-of-semester assignments and marking? Perhaps the excitement of Halloween clouded my memory (okay, not a great excuse–my memory is always clouded). Or is it my fretting over an upcoming TV appearance for my book on November 17 (be sure to watch if you’re in the Toronto area!). Probably none of the above. It’s just that I was just spending too much time mulling over the appropriate sequence of courses for this current Lucky Comestible series. I mean, does one serve the salad before the soup, or soup before the salad?
Hmm. That’s a tough one. According to the Wellspring of All Things Informational, Wikipedia, soup follows the first course (which they call the entrée) ; after that, we have some fish or relevées (lighter courses), then a main dish, and then a salad, with dessert and cheese plate in pursuit. It’s common knowledge in these parts that Italian meals often serve a salad toward the end as a kind of digestive aid (which makes total sense, as the raw ingredients contain enzymes that do just that).
Well, now that I’ve discovered the joy that is Waldorf Salad, I wasn’t about to save this darling for the end of the meal!
Believe it or not, I had never tasted a true Waldorf Salad before making this one. (I know! Even with me being all worldly and everything). As a young adult, for me the name always evoked images of raucus witticisms and much imbibing at the Algonquin Round Table; impeccably-coiffed socialites in Chanel suits, their French poodles (equally coiffed) trotting alongside on golden leashes; or Holly Golightly peeking in that store window before Breakfast (all of which occurred, of course, in the same city as the hotel in which the salad originated).
While I knew it contained apples, I wasn’t as clear on the other ingredients. I imagined it must have something exotic, such as mizuna or ugli fruit (okay, not really; in those days, I didn’t even know what ugli fruit was. I just liked the name). Or that it involved a multi-stage, every-pot-in-the-house sort of preparation.
Silly me! This recipe couldn’t be simpler. Of course, “simple” doesn’t necessarily equate with “commonplace” (think of a simple but divine square of dark chocolate, a chic and tailored little black dress, or the perfect filligreed snowflake, for example). The same principle applies to this salad; the quality of the whole is, perforce, determined by the quality of its constituent parts.
In fact, I like to think of it in terms of a poem by William Carlos Williams (yes, my mind works that way):
so much depends upon
a red wheelbarrow apple
glazed with rain
beside the white
In a recipe like this one–containing only 3 ingredients besides the mayo–that mayonnaise is pivotal. In fact, the full gastronomic experience of the salad–the entire salad “zeitgeist,” if you will–is determined by that mayo. Mayo Rules!
If you’re already familiar with a prepared mayo that you like and think would go well here, by all means, use it. I’ve rarely used jarred mayo in the past, preferring to make my own. And while the results have been perfectly fine for items such as mock tuna salad or even Celeri Remoulade, for this salad, I wanted something a little lighter, a little more delicate in flavor. And I found it–on Vegan Epicurean’s blog!
The mayo recipe she created is perfect. It’s airy, fluffy, not at all unctuous, yet rich and creamy, with just the right degree of tartness and sweetness to balance the oil. I made mine in a VitaMix, but it should work in a regular blender as well (see recipe for pointers).
The first time I made the salad, I foolishly halved the recipe, assuming the HH and I could never eat it all. (Silly me.) It was amazingly good. Crisp, juicy, sweet apple bits complemented by crisp, juicy, slightly bitter celery bits, punctuated by crisp, toasty walnut bits, all coated in bits of creamy, smooth, ethereal mayonnaise. And wouldn’t you know it–bit by delectable bit, I ate half the bowl. (As did the HH.)
Whether you serve this as a first course, following the soup, or as a post-prandial nibble, no matter. It’s a joy to eat any time.
“Mum, I’m sure we would find that salad a joy to eat, too! Oh, wait; for us, pretty much anything is a joy to eat. But can we still have the leftovers anyway?”
Classic Waldorf Salad
adapted from the original Joy of Cooking
A wonderful first course for a meal, or as a side dish with a summer dinner. There’s a reason this salad is a classic–it’s still irresistible, even today.
1 large sweet, crisp and juicy apple (I used Honeycrisp), cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups/480 ml)
5-6 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 2 cups/480 ml)
1/2 cup (55 g) lightly toasted walnuts, broken into pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) halved green grapes (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) great-tasting mayonnaise (I used this recipe, with the ACD variation, below)
Place the apples, celery, walnuts and grapes in a large bowl. Add the mayo and stir to coat well. Either eat immediately, or store, covered, in refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, garnish with more chopped walnuts, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened soy milk
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (270 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic [I’d use olive oil]
1/4 tsp (1 ml) raw apple cider vinegar
2-4 drops plain or vanilla pure stevia liquid (to your taste)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dry mustard powder
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until thick, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate before using. (If using a conventional blender, blend all ingredients except oil. Then, with motor running, slowly pour the oil into the blender and allow the mixture to emulsify. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate before using). Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).
Other Posts in this Series:
Lucky Comestible 6(1): Roasted Red Pepper and Apple Dip
Lucky Comestible 6(3): Apple and Red Wine Soup
Lucky Comestible 6(4) Potato Terrine with Apples and “Goat Cheese”
Other Apple-Based Recipes You Might Enjoy:
- Tofu Omelet with Sautéed Apples and Sweet Curry Sauce
Earth Bowl Breakfast (yikes! Getta loada that photo!)
Other Lucky Comestibles:
- Lucky Comestible 1: Sweet Potato
- Lucky Comestible 2: Quinoa
- Lucky Comestible 3: Avocado
- Lucky Comestible 4: Coconut
- Lucky Comestible 5: Cilantro
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