Make-Ahead Turkey Waldorf Salad With Fennel, Roasted Grapes, and Spicy Walnuts


[Photograph: Suzanne Lehrer]

If you think Waldorf salad connotes American culinary relic, a dish best forgotten alongside jellied salads, then this fresh take will forever change your mind. In lieu of sliced raw celery, I added fennel and chopped fronds for crunch and flavor, and toasted the walnuts with a quick homemade spice mix of cumin, paprika and cayenne for some kick. My favorite part of this dish is the roasted red grapes—alongside fresh green ones.

Roasting grapes with butter, olive oil, salt and rosemary gives them a complex, incredibly concentrated flavor. The juices from the roasting process are then mixed into the dressing, a trick I recommend trying with just about any salad. I kept the dressing mayonnaise-based, but lighter and tangier with just apple cider vinegar and the grape-roasting juices. I wanted to keep the consistency closer to a light chicken salad than a 10-pound egg salad. The goal is also not to overdress; the dressing should look and taste like a light swipe on the fresh vegetables and turkey rather than a thick blanket.

This recipe was borne out of a re-imagined post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. Even turkey-and-mayo-on-white-bread purists will appreciate the crunch of Honeycrisp apples and fennel, the light spice of the walnuts, and the delightful squish of roasted grapes on top of fresh roasted turkey. The salad can also be served on its own, or on lettuce, but I liked it best open-face on lightly toasted bread. Just set aside a couple apples from your pie mise en place, wrestle away grapes and walnuts from a cheese tray, and you're just about to ready to roll the next day for Friday lunch.