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A fresh take on Waldorf Salad

| Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Arizona Biltmore Hotel
Wright’s Waldorf Salad Tribune Media Services

Waldorf Salad is a timeless dish. The story goes that maitre d'hotel Oscar Tschirky created the salad at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896. Tschirky invented it on the spot in response to a customer request, tossing apples and celery with mayonnaise. Within a few years, his simple recipe had evolved with the addition of walnuts, grapes and a honey-sour cream dressing into what became the Classic Waldorf Salad.

Over the more than 100 years since, chefs have experimented with the ingredients, adding an array of flavors and textures. I like to think of the salad as a culinary canvas that invites creative adaptations.

While teaching a weekend of cooking classes, I was introduced to two versions of the acclaimed crunchy treat. Here are some tips to make these salads a hit:

•Sample the apples in advance to make sure they are crisp and delicious and not mealy.

• Don't cut up the apples until just before you're ready to serve, because they oxidize quickly and will turn dark.

Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 20 cookbooks and a James Beard award-winning radio show host.

Classic Waldorf Salad

This is a bite of the past but not without contemporary updates such as using creme fraiche instead of sour cream and serving it inside a hollowed-out apple.

1½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon creme fraiche

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced small

1 Gala apple, peeled and diced small

¼ cup sliced grapes

2 Gala apples, tops removed and insides hollowed out

Put the mustard, honey and creme fraiche in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the apples and grapes. Toss well. Spoon into apples and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Wright's Waldorf Salad

This is a semi-classic edition from Wright's at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, which serves classic favorites updated for today's tastes. Ingredients such as honey, sugar and walnut oil, and slicing the apples into matchstick size, reset the flavor and texture profile.

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks

1 Gala apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks

½ cup peeled and diced celery root

6 candied walnut halves

¼ cup grapes, cut in half

¼ cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream

3 celery leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons walnut oil

Put the apples, celery root, walnuts and grapes in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, add the yogurt, honey, sugar, creme fraiche, celery leaves and walnut oil. Mix the dressing until well blended. Add to the apple mixture and toss well. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

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