Revisiting a classic – it still tastes great!
½ cup fresh walnuts 3 Tbsp premium brand mayonnaise 1 Tbsp lemon juice ½ tsp salt Freshly ground black or white pepper 1 red-skinned apple, cored and finely chopped ½ cup chopped celery ½ cup small red grapes, halved Iceberg lettuce leaves Chopped parsley, optional
1 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Put walnuts in a shallow ovenproof dish and bake for 7-10 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool, then gently crumble in the hands, shake off skins, and use a clean toothpick or bamboo skewer to pick off the rest of the skins (as much as you can!). Chop walnuts roughly.
2 Mix mayonnaise and lemon juice in a bowl and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix in apple and celery and most of the grapes and walnuts. Serve in lettuce cups and garnish with extra grapes and walnuts. Dust with a little parsley and serve.
This salad was invented in the late 1890s by Oscar Tschirky maître d’hotel of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. It was a sleeker salad then, made with red skinned apples, celery and mayonnaise. Toasted walnuts were added later, and in my mind, are an inspired addition. Red grapes appear in more recent recipes. A few tips then:
Organically-grown celery simply requires a quick wash and a shake dry. If using conventionally-grown celery – that means with loads of chemicals – scrub it well to rid it of bitter flavour, then pat dry. The pale inner stalks are milder in flavour.
Toasting the walnuts adds a delicious sweet nuttiness and makes it easier to flick off the tannic bitter skins.
Try a version with sour cream or yoghurt, just once, so that you can be sure that it really is best with mayonnaise. No need to make your own mayo though – it’s too rich I think for this salad. Use a good brand such as Best.
If using grapes, halve them and flick out any seeds. If you have to turn it into a fruit salad, add some mandarin segments scrupulously picked over to remove bitter white bumph.
To turn it into a main-course salad, add grilled chicken breasts, or cubed ham off the bone.