Who doesn’t love a Waldorf salad? Celery, apple and walnuts tossed and slathered with a creamy mayonnaise – there’s something just right about this classic combination. Crisp and crunch, sweet and tart, nutty and creamy, all going off in your mouth, all at the same time. But when we’re wanting to be gentle on our immune systems, we might want to avoid the walnuts and the egg-based mayonnaise. And when we’re wanting to be lazy, we want that salad to be a meal in itself, not just a dish on the side. So substitute the nuts for bacon, the mayo with avocado, add cauliflower florets for substance and chicken breast for protein – the resulting meal is mighty. Whoever Waldorf was, he’ll be smiling down on our healthy variations.
Waldorf Salad with Avocado, Chicken and Cauliflower Florets
It’s sweltering here. After a springtime of rain and cloudy days, it seems summer rocked up right on it’s official day of arrival, unpacked it’s suitcase, and is here to stay. Down in the Veneto valley, it’s the humidity that’s hard to bear. Sticky. We sweat it out during the day. Fiorenzo, determined to absorb as much Vitamin D as he can, takes off his t-shirt whenever he can. His back is browning like an Aboriginal’s, in stark contast to his lily white bum. Roxy finds the coolest patches of floor and lolls around, wishing she was a sea-lion. I drink big glassfuls of iced water with lemon, and dunk myself under the shower a few times a day.
Last night, for the first time, we caved. Out of some financial or environmental conviction, we start each summer trying to sleep with the shutters and the windows wide open. It’s a recipe for day-long narkiness and frustration. The days are short and the light streams in, piercing your eyeballs at some un-Godly hour of the morning, and the birds! They clamour right into the bedroom for their wake-up symphony, doing their best, all seven hundred of them, to get right into your eardrums. “Enough!”, last night, we said, and turned on the air-con. Dark room. Quiet. We slept so well we didn’t even hear the storm.
Despite the heat, we’re hungry. Paleo bread, muffins or a smoothie are okay on the weekends when we sleep in late, but during the week our day starts at 6.30am. That’s a long stretch before lunchtime, and our standard breakfast – a big serving of vegetables, protein and fat – takes us the distance (with a mid-morning snack).
For the other meals, we want salad, and lots of it. We want easy – one bowl – but we don’t want to skimp on flavour or nutrition. So Main Dish Salads are the go. I’ve always loved a Waldorf Salad, but we don’t go overboard with nuts and raw eggs. Apart from a couple of brasil nuts each day for the selenium, I try to keep our Omega 6’s low and thus save other nuts and seeds for our baked treats. We eat eggs a couple of times a week, but I only make mayonnaise about once a month. It’s not a daily addition to our plates. I find that eating mostly AIP is the best way to keep my inflammation levels down, whilst allowing me those moments of indulgent flexibility.
So, to the traditional Waldorf Salad, I’ve made some changes, but I hope, for the purists, I’ve managed to remain loyal to the theme. To the irreplaceable excitement of celery and apple I’ve subbed crispy-fried bacon for the walnuts. As well as contributing more healthy fat, the avocado provides creaminess in place of the mayo. The cauliflower florets, quickly blanched to retain crispness, add bulk and nutritional density. And the diced chicken breast, sautèd ’til golden, is the protein best suited for it’s delicate flavour.
This quantity might be too much for you. For us it was just right for lunch.
Extra’s On the Side
- Balsamic Beef with Roasted Rosemary Pumpkin and Pomegranate,
- Carrot and Zucchini Fettucine with your favorite pasta sauce
- Moroccan Inspired ‘Cous Cous’ Salad with Carrot, Dates and Mint , served with yesterday’s lamb or sliced beef.
What’s your favorite Main Meal Salad? Always looking for inspiration here – do share!
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- 1 cup cauliflour florets
- 100 grams bacon diced into 1cm / ½ inch squares
- 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 200 grams chicken breast diced into 1cm / ½ inch cubes
- 1 apple, cut into 1cm / ½ inch cubes (1½ cups)
- 2 - 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced (1½ cups)
- 1 large perfectly ripe avocado, cut into 1cm / 1½ inch cubes
- 1 / 2 lemon, juiced + extra wedges for serving
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground iodised coarse sea salt
- Bring half a litre of lightly salted water to the boil. Blanch the cauliflower florets: add them to the water and when it returns to the boil, set the timer for 2 minutes. When the timer sounds, drain the florets and rinse them under cold water until they've cooled completely.
- Heat a frypan over a low heat and fry the bacon. When crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen towel. Drain the excess oil from the pan and wipe clean with another sheet of absorbent kitchen towel.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil to the pan and warm over a low heat. Add the cubes of chicken breast and cook through, stirring every half minute until the edges are golden. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely.
- Place the apple, celery, avocado, cauliflower florets, bacon and chicken into a large bowl. Pour over the lemon juice, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a few grindings of sea salt, and toss lightly to combine all ingredients.
- Serve generous portions in large salad bowls. Have the bottles of olive oil and vinegar, the salt grinder and extra lemon wedges in the centre of the table for further seasoning.