This Retro Waldorf Salad is an ode to one of my favorite series, Mad Men. This month’s Progressive Eats theme is “Recipes Inspired by a Movie or TV Show.” I had so much fun thinking about my favorite movies and TV shows.
I even considered using food from The Simpsons. (My kids used to recite entire Simpsons’ episodes, which they had committed to memory, as an alternative to conversing with me at dinner. Ah, adolescents! Luckily, we’re way past that stage now.) There are so many Simpsons food “moments.”
But in the end, I had to go with Don Draper and my longstanding fascination with Mad Men. After my son Liam introduced me to it, I watched every episode in all seven seasons. Plus I have The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, so I had a headstart in finding an appropriate recipe.
I would definitely have made date nut bread, an old favorite of mine with a deep connection to the ambitious women in the series. However, I’d already done that.
Turning to Betty and Don Draper for inspiration, I decided on Waldorf Salad. It’s not only tied to Mad Men, Waldorf salad is a true American standard.
The New York Times called Waldorf Salad “a dish that was made for New York City’s elite but that became, through the 20th century, a staple of Americana.” Invented at the Waldorf Astoria in the late 19th Century, it continues to be a staple at the restaurant in that hotel and elsewhere.
Betty made Waldorf Salad for the adults at daughter Sally’s birthday party in Mad Men‘s earliest days. (Season 1, Episode 3.) Two seasons later, it appears again when Don meets with Conrad Hilton. At that point, the hotelier refers to Waldorf Salad, named after his famed Waldorf Astoria hotel. (Season 3, Episode 3.)
There are as many variations to this salad as there are chefs and cooks who serve it.
I checked out many versions before settling on my own Retro Waldorf Salad. I began with two recipes in the Mad Men cookbook. Then I moved onto one by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes and another by a writer simply called HeartofGlass on Serious Eats.
My Retro Waldorf Salad uses elements of the original and classic versions, but with one difference. I decided that a mayonnaise-based dressing was just not my style. So I went with one that uses yogurt and sour cream. It’s much lighter and I think it lets the flavor of the fruit, celery, and nuts shine through much better than mayonnaise, which tends to overwhelm other ingredients.
Dishes Inspired by Movies or TV
- Masala Omelette from “The Hundred Foot Journey” from Spice Roots
- Mexican Chicken Chile Soup (Gluten-Free) from “Tortilla Soup” from The Heritage Cook
- Double Polar Burgers with Everything from “Grease” from Pastry Chef Online
- Mrs. Patmore’s Calvados-Glazed Chicken from The Redhead Baker
- Retro Waldorf Salad for Mad Men Fans from “Mad Men” from Mother Would Know
- Chocolate Frangelico Truffles from Chocolat from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Minny’s Chocolate Chess Pie from “The Help” from Creative Culinary
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Our menu this month features dishes inspired by our favorite TV shows and movies! We’ve got a great mix from appetizers to desserts! Hosting this month is Coleen from The Redhead Baker.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
Retro Waldorf Salad
This classic American salad mixes fruit, vegetables, and nuts in a light dressing.
- 2-3 apples, preferably Granny Smith, Fuji and similar
- 1 cup chopped celery or celery hearts
- 1/2 cup grapes Use red, green or a combination and halve or quarter if large.
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted or candied
- 1 lemon, divided (half for dressing)
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste
- white pepper to taste
Core and chop the apples into bite-sized pieces. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze half of it over the chopped apple, mixing them together. This will prevent the apple pieces from browning.
Add the chopped celery, grapes, and walnuts.
Mix the dressing ingredients together (yogurt, sour cream, mustard, juice from the remaining half lemon, salt and pepper), then fold it into the salad.
I prefer to use at least two types of apples. Mixing varieties provides more flavor complexity than if you use just one type of apple.
To toast the walnuts, bake them in an oven or toaster oven at 325 degrees F for 5-10 minutes, turning them a few times. For instructions on how to make candied walnuts, check out my post Stovetop Candied Walnuts.