I’ve never “visited” the Waldorf salad here on Macheesmo so it might sound weird to revisit it, but that’s what I’m doing darnit. You see, the Waldorf Salad is old. It’s been adapted quite a few times so even though I’ve never written about here before, many other people have so I feel like I can skip the traditional version and go straight to the good stuff.
You see, revisiting things usually makes them awesome.
The salad is pretty simple really but there are a few things that I think are really important. For starters, the dressing is awesome. Rather than an intense mayonnaise dressing that the traditional version has, this version has a light buttermilk dressing (with just a touch of mayo). Second, the chicken needs to be spiced up nicely. It gives some great texture and protein to the dish. If I was doing a veg version I think I’d grill some mushrooms?
The Waldorf Revisited
Yield: Serves 4.
1 large head of bibb lettuce or butter lettuce
1 red pepper, diced
2 apples, peeled cored and diced
1 Cup of almonds, chopped
4 large ribs of celery, chopped
2 chicken breasts, I like the skin on
Salt and Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
3/4 Cup buttermilk
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 Tablespoons chives, minced
2 Tablespoons parsley, minced
Salt and pepper
1) For dressing, mince chives and parsley very finely. Then whisk together all ingredients to make dressing.
2) Let chicken marinate in olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for about 30 minutes before cooking.
3) Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes per side or until the breasts are cooked through. If you don't have a grill, cook the chicken in a cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes per side and then finish it in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
4) Let chicken rest for a few minutes and then slice it up.
5) Slice up other salad ingredients and top over lettuce. Then drizzle on dressing and top with the sliced chicken.
6) Serve with extra dressing and crusty bread.
Adapted from May 2010 Body and Soul.
Making The Dressing
Betsy and I really liked this dressing and I think I might start rotating into my normal salad dressing rotation. It’s not too heavy but very flavorful. You’ll need these things.
The only things that you really need to chop is the chives and the parsley. Make sure to mince both pretty finely though. You don’t want a huge piece of parsley in the dressing.
Then just whisk all the ingredients together. If you want it a bit thicker, add another Tablespoon or so of mayo. Also feel free to add more of the herbs and taste for salt and pepper obviously. It’s a kind of runny dressing, but it’s very flavorful actually. It even gets better on day two.
Cooking the Chicken
This salad was flavorful enough that I didn’t feel the need to have a full chicken breast on mine. Betsy and I split a chicken breast and it was more than enough which is why the recipe says two breasts for four people. If you have big meat eaters though, then you could do a breast a person I guess.
I marinated mine in a few Tablespoons of olive oil and big pinches of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I only let it marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking it.
If you happen to have a grill, by all means throw this on the grill. I don’t have one unfortunately so I cooked mine on high heat in my cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes per side to get it nice and brown and then I finished it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Turned out perfect.
Putting the Salad together
While your chicken is cooking, you can prep all your other stuff which is pretty straightforward. If you can get your hands on some nice fresh butter lettuce or bibb lettuce, it’ll kick this salad up a notch. Otherwise you can use whatever you normally use for salads.
But seriously, if you’ve never tried butter lettuce, it’s kind of amazing.
Wash your lettuce and dice it up. The same goes for all the other veggies. You could definitely sub in your favorite nut for almonds if you wanted, but they worked great if you have some on hand. Just give them a rough chop and you’ll be all set. Then pile the veggies high and deep.
Add your apple right before serving so it doesn’t turn brown and dress the salad immediately. Feel free to go pretty heavy on the dressing. You don’t want pools of dressing or anything, but using a heavy drizzle is just fine.
Back to the chicken
If you aren’t used to grilling or cooking chicken, it’s very important to let the chicken rest for five minutes at least before slicing it up. That gives the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the meat. Then you can slice up your breast into nice strips.
Pile the chicken right on top of the salad and you have yourself a very healthy and delicious salad-based meal. If you were so inclined, you could also serve it with some hearty bread.
Betsy and I liked this salad so much that we happily ate it two days in a row. It was very flavorful and just left me feeling healthy but still full.
Honestly, it was one of the best salads I’ve had in awhile. I mean just look at those colors!
I highly recommend you visit this revisited salad.