Modern Waldorf Salad

You've probably figured it out by now, but I'm kind of a total geek. I like geeky things (I'm married to an aspiring computer programmer - need I say more?) and I like to pick up quirky skills and I'm okay with that. So, as any geek that was traveling to New York City this past summer might do, I bought a book on New York City. Not just a brief overview of the major sights, though. A 384 page book about the history of New York, building by building.

Needless to say, I thought it was awesome.

I read the entire thing, even though the publisher's description of the book specifically said, "Not for cover-to-cover reading. . . " For an entire month, I was jam-packed with weird bits of New York trivia.

It's not surprising, then, that when I was in New York I was still spouting tidbits of New York info. My mother-in-law's travel agent had suggested the Waldorf-Astoria as a place to stay and of course I had to look up all the info on that historic hotel as well. So, as I was telling my patient sister-in-law about the hotel ("Did you know Cole Porter lived here? Did you know it was two hotels, the Waldorf and Astoria and they merged? Did you know the original Waldorf-Astoria was where the Empire State Building now stands?") I also mentioned it was where the Waldorf salad originated from.

That's when my sister-in-law gave me a blank look and asked what the heck a Waldorf salad was.


I thought everyone had grown up eating Waldorf salads on occasion. The combination of apples, walnuts, celery and mayonnaise is classic. Of course, when I really thought about it, the last time I made a Waldorf salad was . . . . well, never. I can't even remember the last time I even ate a Waldorf salad. Somehow it seems to have been forgotten by my generation.

Since I really like the crunchy combination of apples, walnuts and celery, I decided to make a Waldorf salad when I got back from New York. The more I thought about making the salad, the more I thought that it would be fun to make a modern Waldorf salad; a salad that hopefully would have some of that great retro appeal of the original Waldorf salad combined with flavors that are popular right now, too. This version is definitely more 2011  - it has a light citrus vinaigrette, no mayo, and some whole grain thrown in. The celery, the walnuts and the apples are still there, but they are joined by some craisins, green onions and fresh mint. The resulting salad is a light-tasting winner that can double as a side dish or light lunch. The quinoa gives it great texture, but you could substitute any favorite grain. You can serve it on top of lettuce like a traditional Waldorf salad, or just in bowls without any lettuce at all. If you like the original Waldorf salad, or even if you don't, give this salad a try new time you are looking something a little different, a little healthier, and with a bit of a modern twist.

Modern Waldorf Salad


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or your favorite grain)
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 Gala or McIntosh apple
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 celery rib, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, washed well, spun dry, and chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries or craisins
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Salt


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, drain and let cool.
  2. Cut apples into 1/2-inch chunks and in a large bowl toss with quinoa, celery, mint, cherries, (or craisins) raisins and green onions.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, orange juice, honey, vegetable oil and orange zest. Add salt to taste. Toss with quinoa mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 15 min Ready in: 25 min Serves: 6

Recipe Source: Adapted from www.epicurious.com

17 Click For Comments:

I hadn't heard of Waldorf salads until recently either.  In fact, I think I only know of them from reading food blogs, I've definitely never eaten one.  I like the sounds of this updated version a lot more than the original :)

I've heard of Waldorf's salads, but I have never eaten one. I thought you were going to try to slip licorice into this. :) This looks way better than most other Waldorf's salads. I will give it a shot! Minus all the icky ingredients like celery and green onions and... :) (Picky eaters are the worst, I know!) :)

What an awesome book!  My very first trip to NYC when I was 18 we stayed at the waldorf-astoria!  Love waldorf salad!!  This version look delicious AND healthy!! 

I love your modern take on the Waldorf salad. It looks so healthy and delicious.  

I still have never tried quinoa! This looks like a lovely way to have it though! Waldorf salads are soo tasty, somehow mayo on fruit just works.

Great idea. I guess it shows my age. I had Waldorf salad growing up. It is not something you see much now days. Nice version you came up with. :)

Why would a publisher ever write "do not read cover-to-cover" on their book?  That seems weird.  (Sorry, I got stuck on that.)

I like waldorfs but I'm pretty sure I'd much prefer them with quinoa mixed in!

This is a fantastic idea!  I love that you used quinoa.

Oh my, I love Waldorf salad, though the traditional one is incredibly bad for you. When I was little, my mom used to treat me to lunch at Bloomingdale's restaurant on some weekends and they had an amazing waldorf salad. I'm pretty sure it was made with whipped cream rather than mayo.

This looks like an awesome, and healthy update on the classic.

P.S. I'm totally a geek too ;)

First of all, I love the new design - it's very sophisticated and simple, but lovely! Just my style. Also, this is a beautiful salad with nice summery-fall flavors. Perfect for the end of the season. Thanks for sharing, Nicole! It's always a treat to stop by and see what you're up to.

I love your twist on this classic salad!  You've recreated it so well, the addition of the quinoa is perfect.  I can't wait to try this out!!

Thank you, Linda! I just love quinoa, so it probably wasn't much of a stretch to include it. :)

Whoa, I can only imagine how good that Bloomingdale Waldof salad would taste. It sounds like something I would definitely crave.

I'm so glad you're a total geek, too. We have to stick together, you know. :)

Thanks, Georgia! We must have similar taste because I love the design of your site, too. Thanks for stopping by!

Waldorf salad reminds me of my mom!  She loves it and makes it all the time.  I absolutely love that yours has golden raisins because although I don't like raisins... I've been known to eat fistfuls of golden raisins when no one's looking. :)

That is my idea of a waldorf salad. Looks amazing.

I made a Waldorf salad a few weeks ago, and forgot to take pictures! :(  Oh well, I'll blog it next time.
My husband is a big history buff and knows a ton about NYC buildings and architecture (he's also in the construction business, so he knows what he's talking about)...when we were dating he took me on his "Broadway Tour"...we walked from the Southernmost point of Manhattan (downtown) all the way up to Times Square, right  up Broadway.  The differences in architecture and other things really is amazing, all on one street.  We keep saying we need to take the rest of the tour...soon!

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