Don’t you just love a dish you can throw together quickly without having to sweat over a hot stove? We certainly do – and our “No-Cook Waldorf Salad” recipe totally fits the bill! A naturally sweet and savory fruit and nut salad, this one packs a powerful burst of crunch that both kids and adults will enjoy.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the “Waldorf Salad” isn’t one of That Salad Lady’s original conceptions. The salad itself is named for the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City, where it was first created. Traditionally a bound salad, it’s made with fresh apples, grapes, celery and walnuts all dressed in mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce.
Our Waldorf Salad recipe, for the most part, stays true to tradition, but of course we’ve added our own special touches for enhanced flavor and nutrition.
THE BALANCING ACT
As we’ve mentioned above, mayonnaise is a classic ingredient of the traditional Waldorf Salad recipe. Skim through ours and you’ll notice it’s the main ingredient we excluded – and not for the reason you might think. Nope, it has nothing to do with fat.
Here at That Salad Lady, we believe in eating and enjoying moderate amounts of fatty foods, including mayonnaise. However, we also believe that every salad bowl is an opportunity to maximize your overall nutrition. It just so happens that combining strained (Greek-style) yogurt with fresh avocado for dressing will give you the same creamy texture and mouthfeel as mayonnaise but with better quality fats and protein.
If you’re a huge fan of Waldorf Salads, you’ll likely be able to taste (and see) a significant difference in our blend. This is mostly due to the difference in dressing. Real mayonnaise has a bold, heavier taste that somewhat subdues the flavors of the other ingredients. Our yogurt avocado dressing, however, has a lighter, more neutral taste that, we think, allows the flavors of the other ingredients to really shine. It’s definitely a must-try!
Along with the dressing swap, we also include a few “optional” ingredients in the recipe for more pure, earthy sweetness. On your table in 15 minutes or less, our Waldorf Salad bowl recipe makes the perfect appetizer or light meal.
Now, let’s talk more about what’s in our Waldorf Salad bowl and why.
Sweet and Sour Low-Hanging Fruits
The deliciously sweet and sour medley of red and green apples and grapes is definitely the highlight of our recipe. It’s also quite the nutritious mix. Each of these fruits contain their own unique sets of phytonutrient compounds, all of which act as strong antioxidants that help prevent damage to cells, tissues and organs throughout the body (study up in our “Nutrition Glossary” to learn more about antioxidants and phytonutrients).
Unique to grapes is the presence of resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol known to protect against heart disease and various cancers. Both red and green grapes contain resveratrol, but it’s especially dense in the skins of red grapes. Apples are particularly rich in flavonoids but their main claim to fame is tied to the presence of pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber that naturally supports intestinal balance, reduces blood sugar levels and promotes heart health.
As each brings their own special flavors (and nutrition) to the bowl, we suggest using both red and green apples and grapes but feel free to use whatever you have.
Lean Mean Good For You Green Veggies
Great salads start with green vegetables, and the Waldorf Salad is no exception. The naturally occurring nutrients and antioxidants housed in green veggies are well known for supporting different aspects of heart health, including blood pressure and blood flow. While the traditional Waldorf Salad includes celery and lettuce, the latter is more of a garnish.
Putting green veggies more at the forefront, That Salad Lady’s recipe includes celery and leafy greens in the bowl. We also include freshly chopped broccoli for more crisp, crunchy texture and amazing nutrition. If you’re a fan of Waldorf Salads, you might prefer to leave out the leafy greens, but at the very least we recommend including the broccoli.
The Fats That Make Everything Work
Sticking with the traditional Waldorf Salad, our recipe calls for walnuts. Walnuts have a very mild flavor and light, crunchy texture that perfectly complements all the other ingredients. They’re also jam-packed with health-promoting monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Besides walnuts, our recipe packs in even more fat-rich ingredients for maximum flavor and nutrient absorption, specifically avocado, “full-fat” strained yogurt and chia seeds.
Collectively, these fats help the better body absorb the vitamins and phytonutrients housed in the fruit and veggie ingredients. Put another way, without fat, the nutrients won’t efficiently move through the body to effectively do their work.
As discussed under “The Balancing Act,” our recipe calls for pairing avocado with strained yogurt for dressing. While low-fat and nonfat yogurt varieties work, we suggest using plain, full-fat strained yogurt. Not only does full-fat yogurt contain more nutrients overall, but it’s a lot richer, creamier and thicker with a texture and flavor profile that’s more similar to the mayonnaise we’re substituting it for.
With its creamy, nutty, almost buttery flavor, avocado pairs perfectly with strained yogurt, and even makes for a great standalone dressing for vegan eaters (see notes below the recipe). You can even add chopped avocado to your salad bowl for more good fat and an even richer taste.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
Our Waldorf Salad requires no cooking at all – just some chopping for the fruits and veggies. Ideally, you’ll want to chop all these ingredients into bite-sized pieces (check out the above images for visuals). Using a good sharp paring knife along with a chef’s knife will make the process a whole lot easier.
We suggest chopping everything in one take.
Start by placing the grapes on a cutting board or another flat cutting surface. From there, you’ll just slice the grapes in half with the paring knife. That’s it!
Next, use the chef’s knife to cut the apples in halves, and then scoop out the centers (“core”) with the paring knife. Be sure to leave the skins intact as they’re rich in fiber and add great texture to the blend. To cube the apples into bite-sized pieces, place each slab flat side down, use the chef’s knife to cut them lengthwise into thin slices, and then cut them widthwise to create evenly diced apple cubes.
For the celery, simply chop off the leafy ends of the stalks with the chef’s knife and then thinly slice them into half-moon shapes.
Finally, use the chef’s knife to cut the broccoli. If you’re working with whole broccoli crowns, cut off the long thick stems, and then cut off the florets right where the stems meet the larger stalk. From there, carefully slice the base of each floret so that it comes away from the main broccoli plant, and then take each of the individual florets and chop the stems off. If you choose to use bagged broccoli florets, you’ll just have to chop off their stems.
Once the veggies and fruits are chopped up, combine them all in a large colander, rinse and shake up the mix well for a nice, even distribution of colors and then transfer the whole mixture to a large salad bowl. From there, just let the mixture chill in the fridge until you’re ready to build your bowl – you can even store this overnight.
For the yogurt avocado dressing, add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor.
With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply combine all your ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together rapidly in a circular motion.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to build your bowl, add the walnuts to the chilled veggie and fruit mix and stir them together until well blended. Consider this to be the base of your Waldorf Salad.
Gradually add your preferred amount of dressing to the salad blend – you might prefer to go light or heavy for a creamier blend.
Once you’ve dressed the salad, you can either place it on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves or mesclun. The term “mesclun” is basically a fancy word to describe a mixture of baby leafy green veggies. If you’ve ever had spring mix from a package, you’ve essentially had a mesclun mix. We suggest using mesclun if you plan to eat your leafy greens versus just using them as a garnish.
For added fiber, That Salad Lady also encourages us to top off our salad bowls with chia seeds, but this is optional.
All put together, our “No-Cook Waldorf Salad” recipe is large enough for six generous servings at about 215 calories each – that’s with dressing but without the ‘optional’ ingredients. Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store the base blend in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days.
It’s all about building a bowl that works best for YOU.
Add Your Finishing Touches
To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your Waldorf Salad, throw in a handful of chopped chicken or even a chopped hard-boiled egg or two. Visit our Nutrition Glossary for more ideas, as it’s all about making YOU confident in building YOUR bowl. For added fat and texture, chop up an avocado into bite-sized cubes and add it to your salad bowl.
You can even transform your salad into a healthy dessert or a sweet snack. Simply stir in some drizzles of honey or a few sprinkles of brown or cane sugar and top it all off with cinnamon. The kids will love it!
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
No-Cook Waldorf SaladCourse: Appetizers, MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
A simple sweet and savory blend of fruit and nuts our “No-Cook Waldorf Salad” recipe packs a powerful burst of crunch that both kids and adults will enjoy.
- Base Salad Blend
1 1/2 cups grapes (red and green), seedless, sliced in halves*
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored, sliced and chopped into bite-sized cubes
1 medium Fuji apple (or other sweet, red apple), cored, sliced and chopped into bite-sized cubes
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
1/2 head broccoli or 1 1/2 cups florets, stems and leaves removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup walnuts, halves or pieces**
2 cups of mesclun (spring mix) or 8-12 romaine lettuce leaves***
2-3 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped into bite-sized cubes (optional)****
Honey or sugar and cinnamon (optional)*****
- Yogurt Avocado Dressing
6 ounces plain full-fat (4-5% fat) strained (Greek-style) yogurt (low-fat and nonfat yogurts work too)
1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted****
2 garlic cloves
Juice of half a lemon or lime (more or less juice depending on taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Get Cooking and Start Mixing
- Combine grape halves with chopped apples, celery and broccoli in a large colander or similar dish.
- Rinse and ‘shake up’ the mix well for an even distribution of colors and then transfer the mixture to a large salad bowl.
- Cover the bowl and let the mixture chill until remaining ingredients are prepared or even overnight.
- Prepare the Dressing
- Add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor.
- With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together rapidly in a circular motion.
- You can store any extra dressing in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.
- Build the Salad
- Add walnuts to the chilled vegetable and fruit mix and stir them together until well blended.
- Gradually add dressing as desired (go light or heavy for a creamier blend).
- Place the dressed salad on a bed of mesclun (spring mix) or romaine lettuce leaves.
- Top the blend with sprinkles of chia seeds (if using).
- *Red and green grapes bring their own special flavors (and nutrition) to the bowl. We suggest using both but feel free to use whatever you have.
- **Toast the walnuts if you’d like to add a little more crunch. You can do this by simply baking them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Check the walnuts frequently as they burn easily and quickly. You can also substitute the walnuts for equal amounts of pecans.
- ***We suggest using mesclun over romaine lettuce leaves if you plan to eat your leafy greens versus just using them as a garnish. A 50/50 mix (baby spinach and spring mix) or any other mesclun blend can be used.
- ****Avocado adds more good fat and texture to the bowl. To use an avocado, start by cutting it lengthwise in a circular motion around the pit (or seed), and then open it and remove the pit. For the yogurt avocado dressing, simply scoop out the flesh from each half. To make bite-sized cubes, leave the flesh in the skin and make lengthwise and widthwise cuts to form small chunks. From there, gently scoop the chunks out with a spoon, set them aside and then discard the skin.
- *****Make your Waldorf Salad a healthy dessert or a sweet snack by stirring in some drizzles of honey or a few sprinkles of brown or cane sugar and top it all off with cinnamon.
- This recipe is naturally gluten-free. Make it vegan-friendly by excluding the strained yogurt from the dressing, doubling the avocado portion, and adding 1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- To boost your protein content, throw in a chopped hard-boiled egg or a handful of chopped chicken. Chopping up or shredding the breasts of a precooked rotisserie chicken can be delicious, cost-effective and time efficient.
- The noted calorie count applies to 6 generous servings with dressing, but without ‘optional’ ingredients. Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store the base blend in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days.