[Note from Serene: Carin makes this salad most holidays, partly because it's her mom's traditional salad, and partly because I'm not too proud to beg, plead, or cajole in order to get her to make it. I love this stuff.]
Wikipedia says of Waldorf salad that it “traditionally consists of raw Knob celery (celeriac) ‘julienne’, apple ‘julienne’, grape or pineapple if desired and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise. It is usually served as an appetizer or a light meal.” My mom, not being given to airs, never julienned her apples or celery ribs and preferred halved grapes over pineapple (though I think the grapes were only halved as necessary to removing the seeds.) Her addition of miniature marshmallows just might have made Oscar of the Waldorf roll in his grave. But my family loved it, and they still do when I make it now, for family holiday dinners. Below is Mom’s recipe, with a couple very minor alterations of my own.
I think Mom used all sweet red apples, but I like the little spark of flavor that the occasional bite of tart apple gives.
2 large sweet red apples
1 large tart green apple
3 Celery ribs
Seedless grapes, any color
1/2 cup or more Walnut pieces
2 ounces (more or less to taste) Miniature marshmallows
Mayonnaise to moisten
Before I start cutting the apples, I try to prepare as many of the rest of the ingredients as I can. I don’t want to leave the apples cut and exposed to the air any longer than necessary, to avoid browning. The sooner they get coated in the mayonnaise dressing, the better.
Wash the apples, celery, and grapes, and trim the celery as needed.
Cut in half lengthwise any celery ribs or parts of ribs that are more than an inch wide before slicing them. Slice the celery into quarter-inch slices.
If the grapes are bigger than about a half inch, go ahead and slice them in half, even though they’re seedless. It makes it easier to eat them with a fork.
Roughly chop the walnuts. Try not to have any pieces bigger than a half inch, or about one quarter of a walnut half
Core the apples, cut them into eighths, then slice the eighths crosswise into quarter-inch slices.
Toss all the solid ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and mix well. Chill and serve next to the candied yams at Thanksgiving dinner.
Be aware that the marshmallows in any leftover salad will slowly disintegrate over the next day or two. This doesn’t bother me, but it is a distinctive texture that you may or may not appreciate.