Waldorf Salad with a Midwest Twist

Salad - Marvin House finishedMy summer base in western New York puts me closer to Cleveland than to the east coast, so I have a new radius for recipes to try. Since Empire apples are already being sold at the farm stand down the road, I decided to give the Missouri Waldorf Salad from the Marvin House Cookbook a try.

The Old Foodie gives a well-researched summary of the history of Waldorf salad, which has been around since the Waldorf Hotel opened in New York in 1893. The original recipe (dreamed up by the maître d’, not the chef) didn’t include walnuts; these became standard ingredients later on.

The Missouri variation calls for apples, celery, and walnuts – no surprise there – but the cooked egg and vinegar dressing veers far from the usual mayonnaise. It’s the approximate texture and color of honey mustard. The result? A chunky salad with a refreshingly tangy dressing to pull it together. In my adaptation, I doubled the quantity of fruit in the original and still had dressing left over. I couldn’t find out why the variation is called Missouri, but I imagine it’s a regional favorite. If someone has the answer to that, let me know!

The one-time owner of the Marvin House in Jamestown, New York, Elizabeth Warner Marvin, moved there as a young bride in the 1890s and eventually donated the home as a community center for women’s groups. The Marvin House Cookbook (1989) comes from members who have used the house since the 1950s. Their ladies’ lunches come with a proud, venerable history.

Elizabeth Marvin, 1896. Source: Marvin House Cookbook.

Elizabeth Marvin, 1896. Source: Marvin House Cookbook.

Missouri Waldorf Salad [1989]
Serves 6

1 egg
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon (or less) salt
1/4 cup vinegar
Approximately 2/3 cup sugar
2 cups diced apple
2 cups diced celery
2 cups white grapes
1 cup walnuts or other nuts [I used cashews]

  1. Beat the egg well. Pour it into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the vinegar.
  2. Blend the spices into a little of the sugar. Add that and enough sugar to fill 3/4 cup.
  3. Pour the sugar mixture into a small saucepan and boil gently to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent the egg white from turning lumpy. Remove from the heat, let cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Place the apples, celery, grapes and nuts in a bowl. Toss gently to mix. Add about 1/2 cup dressing and toss gently again. Save leftover dressing, covered, in the refrigerator.
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About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
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