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Cranberry Waldorf Salad

Posted Nov 15 2011 12:00am
Nov 15, 2011 Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 in Blog, Recipes, Salads, Treats | 7 comments

This is the second of a handful of Thanksgiving recipes I’m posting this week. If you missed the others, check out Paleo Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Maple-Vanilla Frosting and Velvety Butternut Squash.

My mom has been making Cranberry Waldorf Salad on Thanksgiving day for as long as I can remember. We think the recipe was a hand-me-down from her much-adored sister (and my favorite aunt) – my glamorous, eccentric Aunt Polly. We always ate this “salad” along with our dinner even thought it sorta kinda resembles dessert. It’s sweet (apples, grapes) and tangy (cranberries), with the tender crunch of pecans and luscious cream holding it all together.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup white sugar, a bag of miniature marshmallows, and a whole container of Cool-Whip! Since it includes so many sugary, forbidden things, I thought this favorite recipe was off the menu. But then I put on my Whole30 hat. I replaced the Cool-Whip with coconut milk, let dried apricots stand in for the white sugar, and eliminated the marshmallows all-together. (I never liked them much anyway.)

With all the fresh fruit and dried apricots, this is definitely a once-a-year treat, and I’m thrilled that this taste of tradition can be on our Thanksgiving table this year, without worrying that I’ll hurt myself by indulging.

[Sorry for the less-than-awesome photos. I took them last year before I learned all about food photography. I'll take new ones on Thanksgiving; promise!]

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 bag fresh cranberries
16 dried apricots
1 lb. seedless grapes, cut in half
2 apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*This salad works best if you do the prep, let it sit overnight, then assemble shortly before eating. Trust me; it will be worth it!

1. Preaheat the oven to 350 F. Put your mixing bowl and beater in the freezer, and place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator.

2. Wash the cranberries and set a few aside for garnish. Place them in the bowl of a food processor with the dried apricots and grind them until the mixture has the consistency of relish. (It’s OK! Go ahead… sneak a little bite. It’s tangy and delicious!)

3. In a large bowl, toss the cranberry-apricot relish with the cut apples and grapes. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator so they can get to know each other. Forget about them until the next day.

4. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 5-7 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on them; they can burn quickly. This step is optional, but it makes the flavors all that much tastier. When they’re cool, chop the pecans and set aside – be sure to save a few unchopped for garnish. Resist the urge to eat them immediately. If you’re feeling lazy, you can use untoasted pecans; it will be fine.

1. When you’re ready to assemble the salad, take your can of coconut milk out of the fridge and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes, then…

2. It’s time to make the whipped cream! Remove the mixing bowl and beater from the freezer, pour the chilled coconut milk into the cold bowl, add the vanilla extract, and beat the mixture on the highest speed of your mixer until it looks like whipped cream. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Marvel at the creaminess!

3. When the cream is done, place the chopped pecans and fruit relish in a large bowl. Gently fold in the whipped cream and garnish with whole cranberries and nuts.

The cranberry + apricot relish.

How exciting is it that this is coconut milk?!

  1. resonnant says:


  2. Funke says:

    Wow Mel!!! This looks soooo scrupmtious! My tummy rumbled when I saw the pictures. Will give this a try.

    When is your book coming out?

  3. Cate says:

    A mildly less fruity waldorf salad, but in my opinion still delicious, is apples, pecans, and celery. it has a good crunch and sweetness, but the celery brings it down a notch. excited to use the coconut whipped cream this year!

    • Mel says:

      Cate, that’s a great idea! I leave the celery out of mine because… shhhhh… I hate celery. For real. BUT for people who like celery, it’s a great substitution for the grapes.

  4. So…is an acceptable variation of this recipe to make the coconut cream and eat it with a spoon? Just that part?

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melissa joulwan

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan •

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