Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving countdown - A Gobble Gobble Waldorf Salad

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite meal of the year. Every year, around Halloween, I start to get really excited about that third Thursday in November when I will get to immerse myself completely into cooking for a whole day, if not two or three!

I start brainstorming far ahead about what I'm going to make this year, because though I have some favorites that I make absolutely every year, I always like to challenge myself a bit with something new and am forever in search of the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

This year's salad: Thanksgiving Waldorf

This year, since it's the first year of the blog, I am going to spend the next few weeks going over my favorite recipes and, if you're looking for something new to try on your Turkey (or Tofurky) table, hopefully you'll try some of these and tell me what you think.

This week I'm going to start with salad. Green salad is always easy to throw together, but I find them a bit bland and usually a last choice for the coveted slots on my plate. However, I do like having an uncooked veggie dish to introduce a little freshness to the meal. So, I opt for a Waldorf Salad, with a Thanksgiving twist.

Waldorf salads get their name from the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City and traditionally consist of apples, celery, raisins and walnuts.

I like to replace the raisins with dried cranberries (dried cherries work very nicely too) and add shredded lettuce to beef up the salad a bit. I also like to use rosemary-scented walnuts (see recipe below), but you can also add the rosemary, very finely chopped to the dressing instead, which makes it quite a bit quicker. However, the flavored walnuts are super easy to make and make a great snack for later.

The dressing is mayonnaise-based, which might freak out some mayo haters, but it really results in a creamy, tangy dressing that isn't too far off from a light ranch dressing.

The Waldorf's tangy, creamy dressing - So easy to make!

Not only is this salad extremely easy to make, but it tastes fantastic. This Waldorf salad will surely be one of the many dishes that will grace my Thanksgiving table this year.


Thanksgiving Waldorf Salad
4 cups Romaine Lettuce, finely shredded
4 Granny Smith apple, coarsely chopped (or you can shred if you prefer the slaw style)
6 Celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 cup rosemary-scented walnuts, coarsely chopped (can use plain walnuts, toasted)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp heavy cream (can use half & half)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I like it tangy, so I use 3 Tbsp)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp rosemary (if not using the rosemary walnuts)

In a medium bowl, combine the first five ingredients.
In a small bowl, blend together the mayonnaise, cream, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing on the salad and toss thoroughly.
Refrigerate until serving.

Rosemary-Scented Walnuts
4 cups walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 tsp salt (kosher is good because it's larger grain)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack to the middle setting.
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss together until the nuts are well-coated.
Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet, trying to get just a single layer of nuts.
Bake until the nuts are brown and begin to be fragrant, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occaisonally.
Let cool and serve.

*These nuts are great in so many things including breads, on cheese boards, in salads or just to snack on.


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