• Waldorf Kale Salad

by Buffy Ellen 0 Comments

I have a confession to make... I’ve never been a big fan of kale. I know it’s all the rage right now, but I’ve always found it rather bitter and tough. So until recently it had been relegated to the ‘eating-this-because-its-healthy’ camp, as opposed to ‘eating-this-because-it-tastes-good’. That was until this salad. With only 10 ingredients and 10 minutes to throw together, this uniquely fresh and creamy Waldorf Kale Salad has well and truly revitalised my relationship with kale, and is now a regular feature in our little family kitchen.

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

The inspiration for this recipe came whilst I was rustling through a bunch of old cookbooks one night. Out of the blue came a tartan durasealed 1B5 entitled “Home Economics”, neatly decked out in cursive writing. Yes, my first ever cook book, from way back in 1992 at the ripe old age of 9 years old. Thanks mum for keeping this gem, it has some stellar recipes of all sorts, from macaroni cheese (which inspired this number a few weeks back), to how to make the perfect salad, to today’s recipe – a modern kale-embracing, entirely egg-less, yet completely delicious take on the classic Waldorf Salad. You may never look at Waldorf the same way again!

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

My 9 year old self’s recipe contained just four ingredients - celery, apple, walnuts and mayonnaise. Fate would have it that our fruit and vege box the past few weeks keeps presenting a dozen crisp and juicy braeburn apples along with a generous bunch of deep green kale leaves. We also recently added these deliciously crunchy NZ-grown walnuts to our online store. So here I’m thinking, why not mix them together and recreate that 80’s Waldorf salad of old?!

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

Legend would have it that the Waldorf was first created in the 1890’s at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, by the maître d’ at the time. It was apparently a runaway success, and you can just imagine the ladies decked out in arm length gloves, dining on dainty fine china plates of “The Waldorf”. The original recipe consisted simply of apple, celery and mayonnaise, with walnuts being a later addition. It then experienced a revival in the 80’s, where it was slathered in way too much store-bought mayo. Which subsequently resulted in it being banished to the no go zone in the 90’s, in part because most of us were avoiding fat like the plague, and because anything from the 80’s wasn’t cool until at least a decade later.

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

The Holy Kale?
So back to our kale. Whilst it can be tricky to work with, it does have a lot of nutritional benefits, as well as being in season right now and fairly easy to grow in your own garden. Kale is a member of the brassica or cruciferous family, alongside cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. It’s relatively high in protein for a vege at 4.3%, contains good levels of fibre (over 40% of its carbohydrate content, which means they’re not turned into sugar in the body but simply flushed through), and includes a number of phytonutrients (plant-nutrients) such as lutein and zeaxanthin which protect against eye degeneration.

It also contains excellent levels of vitamins K, A, C and folate with two cups of the leaves (that’s one serving of this salad) providing you (assuming you’re female) with over 370%, 130%, 85% and 11% respectively of your recommended daily intake. Vitamins A and K are fat soluble, so pairing the kale with our delicious egg-free Tahini Mayo and the walnuts means we’re ensuring these valuable vitamins are absorbed. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and bone mineralisation; A is needed for growth, reproduction, cellular differentiation and immune function; C is one of the strongest antioxidants available, which reduces free radicals preventing them from causing damage to our cells; while folate is needed for DNA synthesis and cell division (especially important if you’re pregnant).

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

The key with kale I’ve found is to prepare it well before adding your dressings and other ingredients. Massaging it with a mixture of oil, vinegar and salt helps to break down the rough texture of the leaves, making them soft, supple and ready for being laced with dressing. The hardy leaves also do best with a dense dressing, like this Tahini Mayonnaise, as opposed to a simple balsamic. Once you’ve made this Mayo you’ll be wanting to drizzle it on everything– it’s a wonderful egg and nut free version of regular mayonnaise, which is often highly processed, has preservatives and fillers added, is high in cholesterol, and can have a lot of added sugar.

If you don’t like tahini, the mayo recipe works just as well with cashews, giving a more creamy rather than nutty result. Try both and see what you prefer – I couldn’t decide as love them both!

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

So take a trip back to the 80’s (or 1890’s as the case may be), and reincarnate a classic with this Waldorf Kale Salad and egg-free Tahini Mayo. This salad is THE perfect dish to take to a potluck, it pairs brilliantly with everything, AND it won’t wilt on the way in the car. In fact, I think this salad tastes even better on day two, once the dressing has had a chance to soak into the apple and kale. Alternatively, if you want to make this dish into a complete meal, simply toss through some cooked chickpeas and serve with toasted wholemeal pita breads on the side – voila. Autumnal salad goodness.

If you give this Waldorf Kale Salad a go, share your creation on Instagram with the tags @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics. Or leave me a comment below or over on Facebook. I’d love to see your version and hear what you think!

Til then, enjoy the rest of your Saturday. It’s looking to be a stunner here in Auckland, so we’re taking the last opportunity to pretend its summer and hitting the sand for some beach walks.

x Buffy-Ellen

PS If you like this recipe, I'd love you to pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or post it to Instagram. And if you're not already subscribed to my weekly recipe emails, make sure you do that here! 

Waldorf Kale Salad

Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

RawVeganVegetarianPaleoDairy FreeGluten FreeWheat FreeSugar FreeSoy FreeContains Organic IngredientsCruelty Free

Takes 10 minutes
Serves 4

Make with

Remember all of the blue linked items below can be ordered directly from our online store, simply click each link then add that item to your cart

Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible

1 bunch kale (~230g)
2 apples
1 c celery (finely chopped)

3/4 c walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch sea salt

Tahini Mayonnaise
1/3 c hulled tahini*
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar**
1/2 c hot water
4 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp coconut nectar
1 tsp sea salt

* You can also use 1/2 c cashews, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water (or an hour in cold)

**If you prefer a less tangy dressing, you can reduce this to 2 tablespoons

c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon

How to
  • Pull the kale leaves off their stems by grabbing the stem with one hand and pushing your thumb and forefinger from the top of the stem down to the tip, removing the leaf. Wash and spin dry the leaves (put the stems in the compost), thinly slice and place in a bowl with the olive oil, vinegar and salt, and massage with your hands for a minute until the leaves become bright green and soft. Add remaining ingredients.
  • Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until super creamy and smooth, then pour over salad and mix everythign together well to combine. I find mixing this with your hands is best to really get the dressing into every nook and kale cranny.
  • Sprinkle with a few extra chopped walnuts if desired.
  • Notes
    • This salad will keep in the fridge pretty well for up to four days (kale's good like that!). The apple won't even brown due to being preserved by the vinegar - which means brilliant for lunch leftovers.
    • Turn this into a complete meal by adding some cooked chickpeas to the salad and serving with hot toasted wholemeal pita breads, rye bread or sourdough.
    • As mentioned, make a sesame-free mayo by swapping the 1/3 cup tahini with 1/2 cashews, soaked.
    • When soaking cashews, either soak in cold water for 1-2 hours, or in hot water for 10 minutes (great for the mid-week rush!).
    • You can also add a small handful of raisins or fresh grapes to this salad for some extra sweetness and chew/crunch - both are beautiful.

    Waldorf Kale Salad - a fresh take on an 80's classic, with a delicious creamy tahini mayonnaise #vegan #dairyfree #salad #healthy #begoodorganics

    Buffy Ellen
    Buffy Ellen


    Buffy is the founder of Be Good Organics, and loves creating delicious yet simple plant-based whole foods recipes. Buffy also oversees our Be Good Organics online store, full of plant based goodies that she personally uses and loves. Sign up for our newsletter below to be the first to receive her weekly recipes.

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