When was the last time you had a Waldorf Salad? Does anybody make this anymore or has it been consigned to the culinary dustbin of history? According to our trusty friend, Wikipedia, the classic salad was “first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe...In 1896, Waldorf Salad appeared in The Cook Book by Oscar of the Waldorf; the original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928.”
We’ve come across Oscar before. The bright spark who also invented- so we are told- Eggs Benedict and Thousand Island Dressing. The original Waldorf Hotel- built in a splendidly over-the-top German Renaissance style- opened in 1893 on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, on the site of the William Waldorf Astor mansion- now the site of the Empire State Building. The rival Astoria Hotel opened in 1897, built directly next door to the Waldorf; both hotels subsequently linked by a 980ft connexion (“Peacock Alley”) to form the new Waldorf-Astoria. The current Waldorf Astoria (from 1931 to 1963 the world’s tallest hotel) can be found at 301 Park Avenue.
I rather like a Waldorf Salad. It’s a simple old thing, really. Sliced or diced apple, celery and chopped walnuts are bound up in a smooth, creamy mayonnaise. But the visual side of the Waldorf Salad leaves much to be desired. Type “Waldorf Salad” into google images, and you will see what I am getting at. Oh the horror! Remind you of anything? There must be a way round this, presentation wise? Some enterprising chef out there. Please.
For the record, here’s a version as published in 1981. It comes from the Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook, so I don’t think anybody can argue with that. But nutmeats?
Waldorf Salad (From the Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook, by Ted James and Rosalind Cole, 1981)
1 cup diced apple
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
Mix apples, celery and mayonnaise; pile in lettuce leaf on individual salad plates. Garnish with nutmeats.