Chef Andy: Pesto turkey salad helps switch gears after Thanksgiving meal
By Chef Andy Mueller
Owner, Galley 57
After the feast has lulled to a dull roar, we look at the piles of pots and pans that have seemingly multiplied throughout the day. Then, we look at the massive amounts of leftover turkey, cranberries, dressing, potatoes, etc., and think: How can I have more food than I started with?
Then we start looking for ways to send it out the door with guests. Easy answer: As long as your guests are willing to travel with green bean casserole on the dashboard, turkey and trimmings on the console and pumpkin pie on the laps of the travelers. One sharp turn and It’s Thanksgiving dinner revisited – all over your car.
It’s always great to have a second turkey dinner later that night, the next morning, and maybe a “Thanksgiving Sandwich” the following snack, but after a while, it’s lost its appeal. Part of that has to do with your body screaming “No more carbs,” as you’re basically telling your body to store as opposed to burn them up.
Switching gears might be the answer after a few hearty carb-filled meals. This can be done by introducing greens, fruits and vegetables with your leftover turkey, which allows you to get back on track before the track gets too far away.
The most important thing to do after dinner, and before your turkey gets dried out in the fridge, is to break it down and pull the meat from the bones as soon as possible. I’m sure you’ll keep the premium meat from the breast for your second meal or sandwich, but leave a little for the recipe that follows and break up the tryptophan monotony with a bright and palate pleasing flavor.
This recipe can be made as a great sandwich on a croissant with lettuce and tomato, but I’m trying to take this to a healthier level and making it into a crisp, refreshing salad that also satisfies the soul. By simply adding pesto mayo, dried cranberries, toasted nuts and a bit of celery and onion, you get a hearty yet bright topping for mixed greens. Toss the greens with a bit of cranberry balsamic vinaigrette and the flavors explode in different directions, yet work in harmony with each other.
This is a good recipe to let your creative juices flow and add things you think would enhance the final product. Different types of dried fruits will work, as will almost any variety of toasted nuts. I choose a combination of toasted pine nuts for a deeper, earthy profile, and toasted walnuts for a creamy texture that helps the overall mouth feel. I use fresh basil pesto, but you can get creative with sundried tomato pesto, cilantro pesto or anything you feel will take it to the level you desire. Enjoy this take on pesto turkey salad and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Pesto turkey salad
In a mixing bowl, add:
- 1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s, but Hellmann’s is a close second)
- 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
In a separate mixing bowl, add:
- 1 pound cooked turkey breast, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast in oven for 7 minutes at 350 degrees)
Add mayo to the turkey a little at a time until you get the consistency you are looking for. If you want it really creamy, add a bit more mayo to taste. Stir to combine ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, add:
- 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
While whisking, drizzle in:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Dress greens with a little vinaigrette, toss, then place on a plate. Place a large scoop of pesto turkey salad on top of greens and garnish with tomatoes, carrot ribbons, onions or any vegetables you wish. Enjoy!