Gorgeous right? Well apparently not nice enough for the Philistines at California Walnuts. This photo and the recipe below were my submission to a recipe contest run by these nuts. No, I didn’t win and yes, I’m a sore loser. The prize was $5,000 and a coveted spot on the Waldorf Astoria menu. The challenge was to update the classic Waldorf Salad (you know: apples, raisins, walnuts, grapes and mayo) all in the name of promoting this specific walnut brand.
So I’m angry that I’m out $5,000 but I genuinely think my salad was good. REALLY good. Like, stick it on your menu at the Waldorf good.
I mean…look at the winners…YIKES.
A flatbread? Are you kidding me? What is this…the Olive Garden circa 2004?
Fennel…on a flatbread…groundbreaking.
I thought I’d share my losing recipe with you in the hopes that you will make it and experience just how wonderful a Waldorf can be.
This version highlights the rich flavor of the walnuts by quickly soaking them in vinegar and toasting them to perfection with sea salt. And the big twist? The sweet and juicy lychee fruit replaces traditional red grapes as a compliment to the apples. Lychees have a fragrant botanical sweetness that pairs perfectly with a light yogurt dressing and delicate radish slices replace the traditional bed of lettuce.
Elegant Waldorf Salad with Radishes and Lychee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup whole California walnuts
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 Fuji apple
1/2 peeled cucumber
10 fresh lychee
12 large round radishes
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the radishes (reserve 2 for slicing raw) for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water and store in the refrigerator until ready for use.
2.Toss the walnuts and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt, marinate for ten minutes. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for about three minutes on each side so they get a nice char. Set aside to cool. Reserve a few pieces for garnish and roughly chop the rest.
3.Use a mandolin slicer to slice the 2 raw radishes, celery (hold it straight up with your hand) and apple (sliced) into small paper-thin half inch pieces. Slice the cumber on the mandolin as well, discarding the seeds.
4.Peel and chop the lychee into small pieces, discarding the pits.
5.Use a fork to whisk the greek yogurt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil together in a large bowl. Add the sliced cucumber, lychee, raw radish, chopped walnuts and apple to the dressing and toss to combine.
6.Carefully slice the blanched radishes on the mandolin and arrange on each plate in a circle. Arrange the mixed salad on top and garnish with whole walnuts.