Top | An Apple Harvest

Aunt Mae's Waldorf Salad

(recipe, Frank Browning & Sharon Silva)

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Aunt Mae, twice divorced, drifted back and forth between the farm and the city. She wanted to be an artist but became a stenographer. She wanted to go dancing in nightclubs but found herself in chicken coops wrestling eggs from beneath different hens. She wanted to eat in restaurants but spent hours in front of my grandmother's stove. She turned our apple harvest into cinnamon applesauce, dark brown apple cakes, and this version of the Waldorf-Astoria classic. The original, created by Oscar Tschirky, a chef known for his distaste for gourmandizing, reportedly used only apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Aunt Mae dressed it up with what was at hand: walnuts, grapes, and pomegranate seeds from just beyond the front porch.


    1. 1 egg yolk
    2. ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
    3. 2½ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
    4. Salt
    5. White pepper
    6. 6 Tbsp. safflower oil
    7. 6 Tbsp. olive oil
    1. 4 Fuji, Gala, or other sweet apples, peeled, halved, cored, and diced
    2. Juice of 1 lemon
    3. 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
    4. ½ cup finely chopped celery
    5. 1½ cups green or red seedless grapes, halved lengthwise
    6. Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)


    1. Make the mayonnaise: Combine the egg yolk, mustard, 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice, and a pinch each of the salt and white pepper in a bowl and whisk until blended. In a small pitcher, mix together the safflower and olive oils. Whisk the oils into the egg yolk mixture a drop at a time. Once the mixture begins to thicken nicely, add the oils in a very slow, thin stream while continuing to whisk constantly. When the mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise, whisk in the remaining ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
    2. Make the salad: Toss the apples with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the walnuts, celery, and grapes, and toss to mix. Add about ⅔ cup of the mayonnaise and turn to coat evenly. Add as much of the remaining mayonnaise as needed to dress the mixture lightly. (Any leftover mayonnaise slides nicely onto bread for a lettuce-and-tomato sandwich.) Cover and chill before serving.
    3. Just before serving, scatter some pomegranate seeds over the top.