WELCOME TO FOOD HISTORY 101: The Waldorf salad was first created at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City in the 1890s. It consisted of apple, celery, and walnut in a creamy dressing over a bed of lettuce. I can imagine this was one of the most popular dishes on their menu.
It’s been upgraded, since, (for the better – sorry, Oscar Tschirky) with the addition of raisins & grapes – the progression into adding chicken/turning it into chicken salad was only fitting. All that salad deliciousness can’t party on it’s own without some meaty protein!
I first heard of the Waldorf Salad sometime in the late 90s while watching the Today show. It really caught my attention because Matt Lauer [when he still had a good amount of hair on his cute lil pinhead] went down to the abandoned secret train station under the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. An Abandoned-Property Explorers (or what the common folk might call “nosey-hoodlum-illegal-trespassers”) dream. I’ve always been interested in exploring abandoned properties, so, the secret underground train station under the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and consequently the Waldorf salad, really stuck with me – I always thought it would be pretty cool to poke around in. (It only makes it cooler if said ‘poking around’ is illegal and the threat of arrest is dark & looming.) If it’s good enough for the homeless squatters, it’s good enough for me!
This is my favorite way to enjoy chicken salad, now. In fact, I literally cannot eat chicken salad without grapes or apples or raisins in it. The sweetness just really makes it. I used to buy an organic rotisserie chicken every week for $5 and eat chicken salad with grapes in lettuce wraps alllllll week. (I go through ruts where I’m a HUGE repeat meal offender.) This is why I stopped eating chicken salad for several months… UNTIL NOW. Now, I’ve been reintroduced with this even more delicious rendition of chicken salad, so, you can guarantee I’ll be going on a Waldorf chicken salad bender/binge. They’ll have to rehabilitate me after I haven’t slept in 2 weeks. It’ll all be very bath-salt-rage-esque.
If you can’t tell… I’m ALL ABOUT this recipe. Just make it. You won’t be sorry.
- 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 12 oz. chicken breast, shredded OR diced (I used 6 diced chicken breast tenderloins)
- 1 green apple, peeled, diced & tossed in 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup grapes (I used black seedless)
- 1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted & roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup non-dairy yogurt of choice
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I use about 1/2 tsp)
- sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Toss chicken breast tenderloins in oil and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Place in baking dish and bake at 375 for 25 mins. Once cool enough to handle, dice and set aside.
- Place walnuts on a baking tray and bake for 5-7 mins, stirring/tossing halfway through. Once cooled, roughly chop & set aside.
- Whisk mayo, yogurt & nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl. Pour remaining ingredients into bowl and gently toss until evenly coated in dressing.
- Season with salt & pepper, if necessary, and serve chilled inside lettuce wraps, with plantain chips, or just by itself!