Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Princess of Waldorf

Somehow the salad-eating gene skipped me and was passed in double to my sister. I've mentioned before that the girl has the remarkable (albeit odd) ability to eat lettuce sans salad dressing. I've always found this to be a bit unusual, but then again, lettuce has no place in my food repertoire. So, I suppose, I'm not one to judge the lettuce-eating-habits of others. The truth is that I find salads, in and of themselves, perfectly delightful. That is, of course, when they are devoid of iceberg, romaine, arugula, and other tasteless leafy greens. Spinach has been my one exception, but even that finds its way only rarely into my salad bowls. I guess I just feel like lettuce is a waste of chewing. To me, it lacks flavor and what it makes up for in crunchiness isn't enough to win over my taste buds. An ideal salad, in my mind, has all sorts of wonderful, healthy additions, without ever allowing a single leaf to touch the mix. So, when I stumbled upon not one but four recipes for Waldorf Salad in the Moosewood Cookbook, I was pretty excited. After some deliberation, Mandi and I chose the one that sounded most tempting to us. Apples, walnuts, celery, and other salad-worthy ingredients were purchased, washed, and chopped. I was ready.

However, I am married to a man who, unlike myself, has a high appreciation for lettuce. He, while not quite as hardcore as my sister, is still perfectly content to eat salads that consist simply of leafy green lettuce and dressing. In fact, he usually prefers this to a salad loaded with a multitude of nuts, dried fruit, vegetables, and fruit. So, he was skeptical at the very mention of Waldorf Salad. And as I mixed the lettuce-free salad and whisked the creamy citrus dressing, I became more and more sure that the entire, large bowlful of Waldorf would be mine alone, to eat over the course of several days. Instead, Dan and I were more than a little pleasantly surprised by this salad's ability to satisfy our very different salad preferences. I don't suppose that he liked it more than his beloved bowls of iceberg and vinaigrette, but it certainly passed the test and was enjoyable enough for him to eat with multiple dinners.

Personally, I liked just about everything that this lettuce-less salad had to offer. First off, mixing Cheddar cheese and apples is always a good place for my Yankee taste buds to start. The combination of ingredients was crunchy and delicious, blending the sweet and the savory for a mix that was both filling and interesting. Even aside from its tastiness, I think that Waldorf is rather endearing in other senses as well. It's a rather fun word to say, which always raises a food's likability ever so slightly. Plus, it sparks my imagination. Perhaps it was partially as a result of the recent royal wedding, but as I was mixing up my Waldorf salad, I kept thinking that Waldorf seemed like a rather fitting name for a charming British town. I can just imagine the rolling green hills and towering stone castles that would exist under the fair leadership of one graceful and beautiful Princess of Waldorf, who, I'm quite certain, would encourage lettuce-free living throughout the land.


  1. Interestingly, this was a favorite in our home every Thanksgiving for years because that was my tradition, although Nana always used red grapes, not raisins. As I recall, you didn't like it:-) My goodness, how time changes things! I believe it was first served at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC! Next Thanksgiving, it will definitely be on the menu again, since you girls have rediscovered this tasty salad! Yippee!!

  2. While I admit to enjoying a lettuce filled salad (it must have dressing though), I have been enjoying a few different kinds of salads as well. It's an appealing thought to have a bowl of "salad" that doesn't consist of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber - the most basic of salads to my mind. While a ceasar may be tasty at times, I think a Waldorf is far more entertaining and satisfying.


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