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~ Waldorf-Style Apple, Raisin, Walnut & Rice Salad ~

IMG_9392Like many of you foodie friends, now that the "holidays have left the building", I need a few days of kitchen relaxation.  I don't mean entirely no cooking, I mean:  over the next few days, I just want to cook a couple of easy, full-of-flavor "no brainer" meals.  If they happen to be a little lighter on fat and calories, that would be good too... as long as they are full of flavor.  This versatile side-dish salad is not only light, fresh and flavorful, it's easy to make and will be great to serve alongside one or two meals this week.  What's more, if I stir in some cooked and cubed chicken in a day or two, it'll transform into a great lunch too.  What's not to like about that!  

WaldorfA bit about Waldorf salad:  The Waldorf salad is an American classic.  It was first created in the late 1800's (sometime between 1893 and 1896) at the Waldorf hotel in New York (later to become the legendary Waldorf-Astoria when the Waldorf merged with the adjacent Astoria Hotel, which opened in 1897).  All sources credit Oscar Tschirky, the maitre d'hotel of the Waldorf for creating this recipe, along with several other of their signature dishes.  To this day it remains their most requested menu item. The original salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise served atop a bed of lettuce.  Walnuts were added soon after, and, walnuts are now considered a part of the traditional recipe, with grapes or raisins being a common addition.  Waldorf salad is served as an appetizer, unless cooked chicken is added to it, then, it is served as a light meal!

IMG_9369Nowadays, even at the Waldorf-Astoria, they serve elaborately presented variations of this salad, some of which contain heirloom apples, celery root, yogurt, candied walnuts and microgreens. I'm sticking to the traditional ingredients today, but, I did relax and have fun placing the finished salad in a ring mold to make it look fancy.  Who wouldn't enjoy sitting down to this!

I took the liberty of choosing low-fat, Greek-style vanilla yogurt as my muse (in place of a lot of the mayonnaise).  And, by adding nutty basmati rice to it, it's ready-to-serve as a side-dish, or, a light vegetarian meal.  This fun-to-eat salad is wide-open to interpretation and creativity!

















For the salad:

6 cups cooked, fluffed and cooled basmai rice (3 cups uncooked rice) 

1  cup diced walnuts, lightly-toasted and cooled

3-4  cups unpeeled and diced red-delicious apples, about 2-3 large apples 

1/4  cup apple juice

1  cup diced celery

1/2  cup golden raisins

1 cup Greek-style vanilla-flavored yogurt

1  teaspoon sugar

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper 

1- 1 1/2  cups chilled mayonnaise, more or less, to taste

For the optional accompaniments and garnishes: 

additional toasted walnuts, for garnish 

apple slices and whole grapes, for accompaniment 

6a0120a8551282970b0176168db7d9970c-320wi~ Step 1.  In an electric rice steamer, using the cup/measure from the rice steamer, place 3 cups of uncooked basmati rice in the steamer.  Using the same cup/measure, add an equal amount of water, or a 1-to-1 ratio of rice-to-water, or, 3 cupfuls of water.  

Briefly stir the rice, close the lid and turn the steamer on.  Do not uncover or stir during the steaming process.

IMG_9312When the steamer signals that the rice is done, open the lid.  Using a fork, rake through the rice, to loosen/fluff the grains. Transfer rice to a bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap (do not form an airtight seal).  Set the rice aside to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, and, up to 6 hours in advance of using in the salad.

Note:  Do not be inclined to steam your rice the night before and refrigerate it, or, use rice that has been previously refrigerated.  Why? Only freshly-steamed, fluffy, soft, room temperature rice can and will absorb all of the flavors, from all of the ingredients, in this salad.  

IMG_9309~ Step 2.  Place 1-cup of diced walnuts in a small, shallow baking dish.  Roast on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven (or toaster oven), until lightly-toasted and fragrant, about 12-15 minutes, stopping to toss with a spoon about every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

IMG_9326Step 3.  Dice apples as directed, placing them in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work.  Add the apple juice.  Close the bag and toss to evenly coat the apples.  Set aside for about 15-30 minutes, retossing the apples about every 5 minutes. This will prevent discolorization.

IMG_9338 IMG_9332~ Step 4. Place the rice in a large mixing bowl.  Add the apples and any apple juice left in the food storage bag.  Using a large rubber spatula, toss to combine.  Add the celery, walnuts and raisins.

Using the spatula, toss to thoroughly combine.

IMG_9345 IMG_9342~ Step 5.  In a 2-cup measuring container, stir together the yogurt, sugar, cinnaman, salt and white pepper. Fold the yogurt mixture into the salad mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside 1-2 hours. Do not add any of the mayonnaise just yet.

IMG_9356~ Step 6.  After the salad has rested for a an hour or two, uncover it, briefly restir and taste. Now it is time to stir in the mayonnaise, until the desired flavor and creamy texture is reached.  I add about 1 cup.

Note:  If the tangy mayonnaise had been added earlier in the recipe (before the flavors had time to marry), it would be too hard to determine how much is just enough, or, too much, which could overwhelm the salad.

Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours, or until chilled, prior to serving.  Portion, garnish, serve and eat:

IMG_9406Waldorf-Style Apple, Raisin, Walnut & Rice Salad:  Recipe yields 12 cups or 8, 1 1/2 cup servings.

Special Equipment List:  electric rice steamer; fork; large spoon; plastic wrap; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; large rubber spatula; 

6a0120a8551282970b0168e94ef875970c-800wiCook's Note:  When Joe and I sit down tonight to watch the last college football game of the season, we'll be eating this salad next to ~ My E-Z "Real" Roasted Chicken Breasts ~.  That recipe is in Categories 3, 19 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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