Saturday, October 1, 2016


I have a fondness for old-fashioned Waldorf salad—chopped apples, celery, walnuts and grapes or raisins dressed with mayonnaise. (Created in 1896 at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.) Sweet fruit, something crunchy, pops of color, toasty nuts. It’s just right for fall holidays and holy days.

With that in mind, I expanded on the theme, using fruits in season in my own backyard—persimmons, pomegranates, pears and almonds from a neighbor’s garden. A butternut squash from mine.

Salads for fall that pop with color: clockwise from the top, persimmon Waldorf salad, cole slaw with pomegranates, spicy squash with raisins and almonds, and pear with fennel, walnuts and grapes.

My version of Waldorf salad swaps persimmons for the apples and hazelnuts for the walnuts. There’s also pear-fennel salad with walnuts, spicy butternut squash with raisins and cole slaw with pomegranates. Any of them could be served, on individual salad plates, as a starter or in a serving bowl as a side dish with roast chicken, perhaps.

Ringing changes on classic Waldorf salad: persimmons instead of apples, hazelnuts instead of walnuts.

Pair pears with fennel.

Moroccan spices, raisins and toasted almonds for butternut squash salad.

Add pomegranates to a favorite cole slaw.

Persimmon “Waldorf” Salad
Ensalada de Caquis

Using quite small persimmons, I sliced them for this salad. Larger fruit could be diced.

Serves 4

2 cups peeled and sliced or diced firm-ripe persimmons
½ cup very thinly sliced celery
½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Salad greens

Place persimmons in a bowl. Add celery and hazelnuts. Combine the mayonnaise and vinegar. Stir into the persimmons. 

Arrange greens on four salad plates. Spoon persimmon salad on top.

Pear and Fennel Salad with Walnuts
Ensalada con Peras, Hinojo y Nueces

Raw fennel has a crisp crunch, much like celery. It’s sweet, anise flavor goes nicely with fruit. Pair it with pears for this easy salad. If the salad is to be served in a bowl, dice the pears. If it is to be served as individual salads, cut pears in half, remove cores and slice thinly. Arrange the sliced pears on top of a bed of fennel on individual salad plates and scatter the diced cheese and walnuts on top.

To prepare the fennel: Remove outer layers and discard. Cut off ferny green tops and reserve some for garnish. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out the core, then place it cut-side down and slice crosswise very thinly.

Serves 4.

Thinly slice fennel bulb.
2 small pears, diced or sliced
Lemon juice
2 cups thinly sliced fennel (1-2 fennel bulbs)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced fresh goat cheese (queso fresco de cabra)
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup red grapes, halved and seeded

Place the pears in a small bowl and squeeze lemon juice over them.

Place the sliced fennel in another bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and toss well. Add diced cheese, walnuts and grapes and combine.

To serve in a salad bowl, add the diced pears to the fennel and combine gently. To serve on individual plates, divide the fennel with cheese and walnuts between salad plates and place sliced pears on top. Garnish the salad with a snippet of the green fennel leaves.

Spicy Moroccan Squash Salad
Ensalada de Calabaza a la Marroquí

This makes a nice side dish with a holiday meal. Serve it room temperature. Take care to not overcook the squash.

Serves 4-6.

3 cups butternut squash cut in ¾-inch dice (about 1 ½ pounds)
1/3 cup seedless raisins
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Salad greens
3 tablespoons slivered toasted almonds
Chopped fresh mint or cilantro

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the diced squash. Bring the water back to a boil and cook the squash 1 ½ minutes. Add raisins to the pan for 30 seconds and drain. Place the squash and raisins in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again.

In a bowl combine the garlic, lemon juice, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt and honey, if using. Stir to combine. Add the butternut squash and raisins. (Squash can be prepared in advance and refrigerated, covered, with dressing. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

To serve, spread the squash on top of salad greens on a platter or shallow bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and chopped mint or cilantro.

Cole Slaw with Pomegranate
Ensaladilla de Coles con Granos de Granadas

On a fall trip through Extremadura, (western Spain), I found salads everywhere--of lettuce, mixed greens or cabbage--garnished with the ruby-red seeds of the pomegranate. Not only beautiful to look at, they add a sweet-tart crunch.

The Spanish version of cole slaw is made with a dressing of fried slivered garlic and pimentón (paprika) and topped with pomegranate seeds. However, you could add pomegranate seeds to any favorite version of cole slaw. Or, try the following recipe, with pomegranate molasses, a sweet and sour syrup to be found in Middle Eastern shops (or use honey plus lemon juice).

4 cups shredded cabbage (about 12 ounces)
1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Combine the shredded cabbage and grated carrot in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, mix well and let stand for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses and celery seed. Add to the cabbage and combine well. Add half of the pomegranate seeds.

Serve the slaw in a bowl with remaining pomegranate on top.

More recipes with pomegranates:
And with persimmons:
And, with pears:
With grapes:


  1. WOW! What a unique twist on the Waldorf salad! And the Moroccan Squash salad sounds wonderful too. I love trying new things. Thanks,

    1. Patty: I think I'll serve the persimmon salad as a starter for Thanksgiving. Hope you enjoy them.