Really, the resembelence to classic Waldorf salad is just the combo of apples, celery, and grapes — but I just love that one of my favorite salads heralded from New York City, where I live. I’m paying a little homage to its history! With shaved apple, flavorful radicchio, and a light, savory buttermilk dressing, this updated version of Waldorf salad is elegant and welcoming. I made a tangy buttermilk herb dressing and opted for delicious candied pecans instead of walnuts.
I absolutely loved Waldorf salad when I was little, and here’s why: instead of the classic mayo dressing, my mom covered the entire salad in sweetened whipped cream. I could eat the entire bowl, and who wouldn’t with that kind of dressing?
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¾ cups (3 oz) pecans
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus for garnish
1 small head or half a large head of radicchio (10 oz)
1 apple, cored and cut in half
3 ribs celery, sliced on the bias
1 ½ cups red grapes, sliced in half
For the pecans: Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a small skillet over medium heat, bring maple syrup and cayenne to a boil. Boil 1 minute, and then add pecans. Stir to coat and cook another 30 seconds. Turn onto lined baking sheet and separate nuts. Set aside and let cool completely. When cool, coarsely chop.
For the dressing: Whisk together all ingredients and set aside in the refrigerator.
For the salad: Break or chop radicchio into pieces. Use a mandoline or slicer to thinly slice apple. Arrange radicchio, apple, celery, and grapes in a bowl, then top with chopped pecans. You can toss with the dressing and extra parsley at this point, or you can serve the salad with the dressing and parsley on the side so guests can dress their own salad.
Tara’s Tip: Radicchio is a very strong, sometimes bitter leafy vegetable. I think it’s fantastic with tangy buttermilk and yogurt. But if you want a milder salad, opt for butter lettuce leaves.
For Filling: 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (canned or homemade see below)
1/4 sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
For crust: 10 whole graham crackers, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp. melted butter
For Topping: 1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup candied or regular pecans, chopped
Crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare crust in a food processor. Pulse graham crackers until crumbled evenly, then add nuts, sugar and salt and pulse a few times. Pour in melted butter slowly while pulsing. Transfer to a 9-inch spring form pan and evenly smooth crumb mixture, leaving about a one-inch space between the crumb mixture and top of pan. Bake for 10 minutes in center of oven on a rimmed baking tray. Remove from oven.
Filling: Cream the room temperature cream cheese together with the sugar in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment on high speed for about 1-3 minutes until smooth scraping down the sides frequently. Next add pumpkin and mix until combined. Add sour cream, spices and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in eggs one at a time and do not over mix, just until combined. Pour into crust.
Bake for 10 minutes on a rimmed baking tray at 350 and then reduce oven temperature to 325 F and bake for another 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the oven door. At this point the center should jiggle but not be soupy. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open or ajar for 15 minutes, remove and let cool at room temperature until cool. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving. Pour sweetened sour cream and pecans over the top just before serving.
Homemade pumpkin puree: Use a 3-4 pound sugar pie or baking pumpkin. Cut off stem and cut in half carefully using a rocking motion. Remove seeds and keep to toast or discard. Sprinkle with some salt and place cut side down on a parchment covered baking tray. Bake in oven at 350 F for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let sit for an hour or two. When cool, scrape flesh from the skin and mash with a fork until smooth or place in a food processor.