It's the time of year when a lot of fresh fruit isn't yet available. But that doesn't mean you can't satisfy your craving for a little crunchy sweetness after months of strictly veggie salads.

The last of the winter apples, pears and citrus fruit can be added to salad with nuts and dried fruits. This week's updated Waldorf Salad scales back the fat without sacrificing flavor. This slimmed-down combination will tide you over until warm weather fruits get to the market.

Waldorf Salad was created by "Oscar of the Waldorf" - maitre d' Oscar Tschirky - for the 1896 opening of New York's glamorous Waldorf Astoria Hotel. A man of many talents, the famous impresario also introduced Thousand Island Dressing and Eggs Benedict.

The original salad was made only with apples, celery and mayonnaise. It's popularity increased with the addition of chopped walnuts that eventually became integral to the dish. News reports tout the health benefits of eating nuts - too long avoided because of their high fat content. But research has found that nuts are an important part of a healthful diet. In one study, four weeks on a low-fat diet supplemented with three ounces of walnuts a day resulted in a drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Some studies have shown that certain phytochemicals and antioxidants present in nuts and seeds have anti-cancer properties.

Low-fat mayonnaise and non-fat yogurt are a healthful way of updating this classic dish. The addition of grapefruit, pear, grapes and dates enhances both the flavor and the nutritional value of the salad.

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If you add a few strips of grilled chicken or turkey breast, this salad becomes a refreshingly light entree. Waldorf Salad is traditionally served on a bed of lettuce.

Modern Waldorf Salad

Makes 6 servings.

  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1 fresh ruby-red grapefruit, in small pieces
  • 1 ripe but firm Bosc pear, peeled, cored, diced small
  • 1 tart green apple (e.g. Pippin), peeled, cored, diced small
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts slightly chopped
  1. In a bowl, make the dressing by whisking together mayonnaise, yogurt, orange juice and orange peel. In a separate bowl, mix together grapefruit, pear, apple, grapes and dates. Mix dressing into fruit mixture and set aside. (Mixture may be prepared ahead if covered and refrigerated.)
  2. When ready to serve, line a large bowl with the outer leaves of the lettuce. Chop enough of the remaining lettuce into bite-size pieces to measure 6 cups and place in a large bowl. Mix in fruit/dressing mixture, tossing lightly. Transfer to the leaf-lined bowl.
  3. Sprinkle salad with nuts and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
182 calories,
8 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
29 g. carbohydrate,
4 g. protein,
4 g. dietary fiber,
105 mg. sodium