While eagerly awaiting the first baby leaves of lettuce, I am still loving winter’s bounty and have discovered a new way to enjoy greens as we transition into spring. Meet the Waldorf Kale Salad!
The Joy of Cooking tells us that the Waldorf salad was created by Chef Oscar Tschirky of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the late 1890s. Originally, this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise. It has since evolved to include walnuts, grapes and occasionally even little marshmallows. It always, though, has a creamy dressing, typically made with mayo. While I’ve eaten many Waldorf salads, I hadn’t made one myself until recently, when I stumbled upon a marvelous riff on the Waldorf salad using kale. I have already made variations of it three times!
Right away I loved this salad when I read that the thick dressing is made by pureeing apples and walnuts together with Dijon and red wine vinegar. No mayo! For my salad, I added a few grapes to the mix and swapped in some lemon juice for the vinegar. The result is a bright, zippy dressing that clings to the kale and wakes up your taste buds.
Even if you’re looking forward to leaving kale behind with the winter, I think this bright, punchy salad will please. It’s packed with flavor and crunch from apples, celery, currants and walnuts and is loaded with the goodness of kale. An added bonus is it will hold up well once dressed and can be made ahead. As we ease into spring, we begin to lighten our eating and this refreshing new twist is a terrific option and already a staple in my repertoire.
Waldorf Kale Salad
Adapted from Whole Foods Market Cooking
2 large apples (I use Honeycrisp)
8 ounces grapes, red, green or a mix
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch of kale (roughly 7-8 ounces), preferably Lacinato/dinosaur, thick stems removed and roughly chopped
1 heaping cup celery, diced
To make the dressing:
Slice one of the apples in half and core it (no need to peel). Roughly chop one half and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add 6 grapes to the food processor bowl, 1/4 cup walnuts, 2 tablespoons currants, the Dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt to the food processor and puree until it forms a thick dressing. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
To assemble the salad:
Core and dice the other half of the apple plus the remaining apple and place in a serving bowl. Slice the remaining grapes in half and add to the bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup currants, all of the kale and the celery. Gently toss to mix.
Pour the dressing over the salad. Since it is thick, I found it easiest to dress the salad with my hands. Gently toss the salad with your fingers until the kale is well coated. Taste for additional salt and lemon juice and add more if needed.
The salad can be made an hour before serving and kept in the fridge. Gently re-toss before serving.