Our Vegan Waldorf recipe is BETTER than the original! Why do you ask? Well, because of that heavenly creamy nutty dressing that we have tossed those classic ingredients in 😉. Try it and you won’t be sorry!
Let’s face it Waldorf Salad is just not a pretty salad, it’s creamy, crunchy and delicious but it is certainly not attractive. That’s why I thought I would slice the apples into wafer-thin slices instead of a boring dice \and hey don’t they look pretty this way?
Vegan Waldorf Salad is a timeless classic recipe that has been given a plant-based facelift without losing its decadent creaminess. This is a simple, versatile salad that can be served either as a starter or a side for dinner.
Want to make it a bit fancier? Then you could try serving it on some elegant soft lettuce leaves such as butter or Bibb lettuce.
Table of contents
How did we Veganise it?
We didn’t go the vegan Mayo, yoghurt and tahini route here.
Instead, we added the creaminess by blitzing roasted walnuts in a high-speed blender with some apple cider vinegar and maple syrup for some sweetness.
Guys, it is UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS!! I just couldn’t stop licking the blender bowl, I was dipping apple slices into the dressing and munching away, just lucky I had made extra.
Origins of Classic Waldorf
According to salad lore, Waldorf salad was created at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York (hence the name). If you presumed that it was the chef who thought of it then you would be wrong, surprise, surprise it was the maître d hotel Oscar Tschirky's, brainchild.
Originally it was made just with apples, celery and mayo, later it evolved to include walnuts which are now a staple of the salad. More modern versions include grapes and sultanas.
Feeling cautious about making this salad because of brown apples? Don't panic, I have the perfect solution for you.
The best way of stopping your apples from going brown is to soak them in a solution of saltwater for 10 minutes.
They stay white and crisp for hours and for a salad the salty taste works well OR you can rinse it off if you prefer. Just use 1 teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of water.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Take a look at the ingredients in the classic Waldorf salad, you will notice that it is a crunchy blend of savouriness, sweetness and creaminess.
- In our version of the salad, we have used traditional celery for crunch.
- We have included both a green and a red apple for the variety of colour and sweetness. A savoury tart Granny Smith and a sweet Fuji apple.
- As an alternative try making it with some pears, look for the firm varieties as the soft ones tend to go mushy in this recipe, try William (Bartlett), Anjou or Asian Pear.
- For some added sweetness and a pop colour we have added black grapes and cranberries. But, any grapes are good in this salad so feel free to swap them for whatever is at hand. Try some sultanas, cranberries or dried cherries.
- For vegan creaminess, we have blitzed roasted walnuts into a creamy nut butter. We then added some apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of maple syrup - ahhh heaven!
- We have also added toasted walnuts for an added nutty crunch, but you could use some hazelnuts, or pecans if you prefer.
- Consider adding some chopped parsley for a pop of bright green colour or some finely diced red onion for some sharpness.
- Bulk it up with some leafy greens such as baby spinach, arugula/rocket or chopped romaine/cos lettuce and it will feed a crowd.
To Make it a Meal
To make it more substantial as a main meal you try adding -
- a cooked grain such as pearl barley, freekeh or quinoa; OR
- try a legume such as chickpeas or edamame soybeans; OR
- even some hulled hemp seeds for a nutty protein boost.
You Will Need
Wash your apples and remove the core with an apple corer, slice thinly into half-moons using a v-slicer (watch your fingers) or sharp knife.
For white, crisp apples soak them in salted water using one teaspoon of salt for every two cups of water.
When you are ready to assemble the salad strain your apples well and pat them dry.
2CUT CELERY & GRAPES
Wash your celery stalks carefully to remove any dirt that may be lodged there. Cut off the white part of the celery, trim the top part of the leaves and discard the offcuts or you could freeze them to add to a stock.
Then, using a vegetable peeler, de-thread your celery (no need to do this if you don’t have the time). Then chop finely into small dice or thinly slice in a food processor if you are in a hurry.
Wash your grapes under cold running water, pat them dry then remove them from the stems and cut them in half.
Chop your toasted walnuts (it is important to chop them so your dressing is smooth and not lumpy). Place the walnuts in a blender with the oil and blitz until it comes together.
Add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and season. Blitz again until it is creamy, taste and adjust seasonings according to your preferences.
Strain your apples and dry them, then place in a large mixing bowl, add the celery, grapes, roasted walnuts and cranberries. Season your salad with sea salt and cracked black pepper, pour over the dressing and mix well until everything is well coated with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your personal preferences.
Arrange in a salad bowl and keep chilled until ready to serve.
Tips & Questions
In one word oxidisation, you see once the flesh of cut apples is introduced to oxygen, it produces a reaction called “enzymatic browning.”
The apple cells also contain an enzyme that when coming into contact with the oxygen in the air, turns compounds in the apple tissues brown - food rust!
You are looking for crunch and a mix of sweet and tart so definitely a Granny Smith as your green apple, for the red try pink lady, Kanzi, Fuji, Gala, or a Honeycrisp, are all great options. Give the red delicious varieties are miss as they tend to go mealy if they are not fresh.
YES, plain and roasted walnuts are completely different! Roasting them gets rid of their tart bitterness and truly sweetens them and adds a lovely mellow nutty flavour. Pretty please don’t skip this vital step.
This salad can easily be prepared the day before you need it and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
If you are like me and prefer to make your salad on the day you could -
* Cut your celery a day or two in advance, keep it covered in water in the fridge, then on the day drain it well and pat it dry before adding to your salad, it will be super crisp.
* Roast the walnuts and make the dressing in advance, store it covered in the fridge, take it out and allow it to come to room temperature. You may need to loosen it with some water as it may thicken.
* Make half an hour in advance and allow the flavours to meld together for a tastier salad.
* It is at its best when you serve it cold from the fridge, it is nice and crisp that way.
* If you want to make it even creamier add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt to your dressing.
* To speed things up you may use a premade nut butter to make the dressing and just mix in the vinegar and maple syrup. Depending on your nut butter you may need to add a tablespoon or two of oil if you find it is too stiff.
You can store your Vegan Waldorf Salad in an airtight container in the fridge and it should be good for about a week.
While Vegan Waldorf is still good for up to a week in the fridge you could also use it as added flavour to a Budha bowl (add some brown, rice, spinach and roasted pumpkin) or as a filling for wraps with some roasted sweet potato.
Looking for more vegan or apple salads?
- Mandoline / V-Slicer
- Bullet or High Speed Blender or Small Food Processor
- 4 stalks celery with leaves (small stalks approximately 300 grams, 10.6 ounces or 2½ cups diced)
- 1 medium red apple (approximately 160 grams or 6.42 ounces)
- 1 medium green apple (approximately 160 grams or 6.42 ounces)
- 1 cup black grapes, sliced (approximately 160 grams or 6.42 ounces)
- ¾ cup walnut halves, roasted
- ¾ cup cranberries, dried
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Wash, trim and remove the cores from your apples then slice thinly into half-moons using a v-slicer or sharp knife.
- To prevent your apples from browning place them in salted water using one teaspoon of salt for every two cups of water.
- Wash your celery stalks, trim the white ends and the top of leaves. Use a vegetable peeler, to de-thread if you have time.
- Then finely chop the celery into small dice or thinly slice it in a food processor.
- Wash your grapes then cut in half.
- Chop your toasted walnuts (it is important to chop them so your dressing is smooth and not lumpy). Place the walnuts in a blender with the oil and blitz until it comes together.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and season. Blitz until creamy, taste and adjust seasoning. Add some water to loosen it if it is still a bit thick.
- Strain your apples well and pat dry,
- Add everything to a large mixing bowl, pour over the dressing and season.
- Mix well until everything is well coated with the dressing. Arrange in a salad bowl and keep chilled until ready to serve.