North Country Kitchen: Salads with turkey
Thanksgiving is over. We have feasted on New World culinary delights like turkey, squash, cranberries, potatoes. The guests have gone home — and hopefully, you froze some turkey to use later.
Wild turkeys are native to North America. The colonists were not familiar with these birds, though they had chickens and ducks back home in the Old World.
Turkey is rich in protein, many B vitamins, and minerals like zinc, selenium and phosphorus. One serving (3.5 ounces or 100 grams) of skinless turkey has just 139 calories and 2 grams of fat. (With the skin, that’s 5.5 grams of fat and 169 calories.)
From soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and salads, turkey adds nutrition and flavor to many dishes. Almost any salad — grain, pasta, fruit, fresh greens — can benefit from turkey.
Exactly what is a salad? To many, it’s a mixture of different greens drizzled with salad dressing. In fact, that’s the first definition in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: “raw greens (such as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing.” But a salad can also be a mixture of various ingredients, as Merriam-Webster’s second definition states: “small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (such as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin.” So, a salad can be any mixture of things — not just veggies, but meat, grains, and pasta, usually served cold. Though modern transportation and storage allow us to have greens and other vegetables all year long, we can also use root vegetables stored in the root cellar, brined or pickled veggies, and things from the freezer in our salads.
Turkey can be a welcome, flavorful and nutritious addition to many salads. Use it with Romaine lettuce in a Caesar salad in place of chicken. Chop it in a food processor and mix with mayonnaise, relish, celery and onions to use in a salad to spread on crackers or sandwiches, like a tuna or chicken salad. Add it to German potato salad. Mix it with pasta or grains in a variety of salads.
Salads are versatile and easily customizable. Use whatever vegetables, grains or other ingredients you have available. Experiment with different combinations and seasonings.
Many are best made ahead, which allows the flavors to blend. So you can make them early in the day, and eat them later. If guests are coming, the work can be done ahead.
Here are some recipes.
Turkey, Leek and Apple Salad
2 leeks (about 4 cups, chopped)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chopped or shredded turkey
1 apple (1 or 2 cups, diced)
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tablespoon prepared whole-grain mustard
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 cup minced fresh arugula or parsley
Wash leeks. Discard root end and tough top leaves.
Cut leeks in half or quarters lengthwise. Then slice across. Rinse to remove any clinging sand. Sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
Dice turkey. Core and dice apples. Mince parsley.
Rinse the leek to remove most of the salt. In salad bowl, combine with turkey and apples. Fold in yogurt and parsley.
Makes about 4 1-cup servings.
Turkey Barley Salad
1 cup barley (also try with couscous, brown rice or millet)
2 cups broth
3/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
2 cups diced cooked turkey
1/2 sweet onion or 2 – 3 scallions
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs like parsley or arugula
1/4 cup chopped carrot (1 small)
1/4 cup chopped celery root or celery
1 small apple, cored and chopped
2 Tablespoons maple mustard
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For garnish: 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts, 1 or 2 Tablespoons craisins
Place grain, cranberries and broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook until liquid is absorbed (follow package directions).
While grain is cooking, chop turkey.
Place turkey and cooked grain in salad bowl.
In a small bowl or jar, mix dressing ingredients. Pour over hot, cooked grain and turkey. Stir in remaining veggies, herbs and fruit.
Garnish with chopped walnuts and additional craisins.
Serves 3 to 4.
Turkey Salad with mixed greens
Fruity vinaigrette dressing:
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or balsamic)
1 Tablespoon apple cider (or another juice, like grape or orange)
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup arugula greens
1 carrot, shredded
1 apple, cored, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 – 2 cups shredded turkey
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
First, make the dressing. Crush garlic with salt. Combine in bottom of salad bowl with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and apple cider.
Wash greens and set aside.
Chop carrot, apple, and onion; set aside.
Toss spinach and arugula into the dressing. Chop carrot, onion, and apple and stir in, along with shredded turkey. Garnish with walnuts and cranberries.
Serves 2 – 3.
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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Words Are My World.