30-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: Waldorf Salad

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Lois-in-Florida’s menu for that serious/sociable ladies bridge lunch (see 30-2) included a classic recipe–Waldorf Salad. Her modern version included chicken and mushrooms thereby making it an entree served along with cheddar biscuits and mini eclairs for dessert.

Waldorf Salad has a long history–surviving unto today even in some delicatessans, so you can buy it ready made with or without chicken. I remember having it and carrot and raisin salad in my high school lunchroom back in the 30s! 

The maitre’d at the Waldorf created this salad in 1896–originally just apples, celery and mayo. Nuts and raisins came later. And today we add chicken to turn it into an entree and other elaborations have been added.

Best version I ever ate, added chicken, dried cranberries instead of raisins that had been softened in boiling water, pecans instead of walnuts that had both a sweet and spicy toasted flavor, and seedless grapes. Fancy and delicious! All those different tastes. I did some googling and came across a recipe almost like that–or comes close. Here’s an untested version you might consider.

2/3 cup of dried sour cherries or cranberries softened by letting stand in boiling water while you assemble the rest. Combine with 4 Granny Smith apples cut into small cubes and tossed in juice of a lemon; 1 1/3 cups of sliced celery heart, 1 1/3 cups of halved red seedless grapes1/2 cup pecans that have been first tossed in a couple teaspoons of butter seasoned with dashes of hot sauce and sugar to taste and then toasted in a fry pan or oven until crispy. I think that would approximate the taste of the pecans in that Waldorf Salad I had at a restaurant.

As to the amount of chicken you add, depends on whether you consider this to be Chicken Waldorf Salad or Waldorf Chicken Salad. I don’t think I’d go for recipes I found with just one apple and 3 cups of chicken! I would add 2-3 cups of cubed chicken to above amounts of apples, celery and fruit. Waldorf Chicken Salad as opposed to Chicken Waldorf Salad. After all, it’s one’s whole meal–protein and salad.

The dressing? No yogurt for me that I noted in many “healthy” recipes–I want Hellman’s mayonnaise only–start with perhaps 1/2 cup Hellman’s plus 1/4 cup of sour cream, salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing as you prefer. This is a very healthy salad with lean meat and all those fruits and vegetables, why spoil it with a yogurt dressing.

I like the idea of serving this salad on a combination of crisp lettuce and watercress just for extra zing.  One more taste sensation. With store-bought small croissants or biscuits, seems to me it would serve 8. Two tables of bridge.

Now all I’ve got to do is test it in my own kitchen, right?



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