Crisp and colourful Waldorf pasta salad

A hearty and nutritious meal that’s simple to prepare!

I love Waldorf salad. Crunchy, creamy and delicious, it offers such a pleasing combination of contrasting flavours and textures. It’s long been one of my go-to lunches because it’s super packable. Unfortunately, however, my husband doesn’t find traditional Waldorfs quite satisfying enough, but I have long wondered if that’s because he’s innately suspicious of meatless food. Enter the Waldorf pasta salad – problem solved. He loved both the Southwestern flavours and how filling this salad was; he even managed to sneak the leftovers out of the fridge – possibly for his breakfast – before I could get to them.  Next time, I’m making a double batch.


  • 1 cup (250 g) uncooked orzo (small, rice-shaped pasta)*
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise (use vegan mayo if preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.6 mL) chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) black pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) milk (or water)
  • 1 apple
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup seedless grapes
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pecan pieces, toasted
  • chopped fresh herbs (chives and/or parsley)

*Use your favourite small gluten-free pasta if you prefer.


  • Put 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) of the salt into a medium pot and fill 2/3 with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add orzo and stir; as soon as the pot returns to the boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until orzo is just tender. Drain in a colander and transfer to a broad, shallow serving bowl; put in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  • While pasta cooks, make dressing by combining mayonnaise, cumin, remaining salt, chili powder, pepper, lime juice and milk; whisk to blend.
  • Also while pasta cooks, cut apple (unpeeled) and celery into 1/4 inch (.4 cm) dice. Quarter grapes.
  • Once pasta is lukewarm, add chopped apple, celery and grapes to the bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle dressing over top and stir again. At this point, the salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to serve, stir salad again (gently), then sprinkle pecans and chopped herbs over top.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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