This reimagined take on the classic Waldorf Salad includes pecans and blue cheese. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

One of the best things to make with new apples is Waldorf Salad, a century-old recipe, usually attributed to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s restaurant where it attained its fame. Sure, it is a bit old fashioned, and originally made only with apples, celery and mayonnaise. If you are a more restless soul seeking new wrinkles, good old Waldorf Salad is susceptible to variations suitable to modern tastes.

For instance, one of the first adjustments to the salad was adding walnuts, which happened in the 20th century. If you are not fond of them and the slight bitterness they add, switch to sweet and buttery pecans. Try sprinkling in some chopped red onion, shallots, scallions or chives.

I want mayo in this recipe, but you might prefer yogurt. If so, use the Greek style with a bit of olive oil to mellow it. A sprinkle of lemon juice brightens the salad, or you can substitute in a bit of vinaigrette dressing. Actually, even though I think Waldorf Salad ought to have a creamy dressing, you can use merely oil and vinegar.

When I have some on hand, I sprinkle in crumbled blue cheese, which goes beautifully with apples. If you need speed and simplicity, consider using prepared blue cheese dressing.

Raisins or dried cranberries? Maybe.

I don’t peel the apples because I like the red color in the salad. And we all need the fiber, right?

In the recipe below, understand that I didn’t measure the mayonnaise: I eyeballed it. There is just no way that I am going to goop up a measuring spoon with a couple tablespoons of something and try to scrape it out. Besides, it ought to be to taste. Same thing with the pecans. I ended up with about 10 halves to chop. Again, you can do it to taste. Because I grow onions, I end up with them in every size imaginable and I used half of a small red one. I suspect a lot of us who have to buy them end up with bits and pieces of red onion in the fridge waiting for some of it to be whacked off for a recipe. It takes all our kitchen skills and awareness not to lose track of those bits so we don’t waste food.

Lots of people, including me, serve the salad alone, no lettuce, though a bed of lettuce laid on its own plate with the salad on top looks pretty dressy — good for dinner parties. I’ve been known to shred a dry leafy lettuce like romaine and toss that in. I wouldn’t do that with iceberg, but you could.

I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I was pulling beets the other day, and thought about how to use them — a sweet vegetable, not universally popular, I find — and dreamed up the possibility of a “beetdorf” salad. I’ll let you know how it works.

Waldorf Salad

Serves 4

2 large apples

1 rib of celery

Red onion, or shallot, scallions, chives, chopped, optional, to taste

Pecans, chopped, optional, to taste

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Blue cheese, crumbled, to taste

Salt and pepper

Core the apples, peel them if you wish, and cut them up small.

Dice the celery, and finely chop up your choice of onion, shallot, scallions or chives. Chop the pecans.

Toss the apples, celery, and any optional onions or pecans in a bowl, and add the mayonnaise.

Mix to cover the apples.

Fold in the blue cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...