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Home on the Range: Warm Turkey Salad Inspired by Lidia


Published November 27, 2020 at 11:37 a.m.

Warm turkey salad with sweet and sour dressing - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Warm turkey salad with sweet and sour dressing
Yes, Thanksgiving was different this year. But, at least in my house — where I cooked for just three rather than the standard dozen-plus — I still had leftovers.

As my husband has often said, the Thanksgiving meal is meant to be eaten twice. Leftovers are a critical part of the tradition. It would be "devastating," he said with a laugh, if there were none.

But once we've eaten our second round of  turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peas and onions, stuffing and wild rice drenched with gravy and cranberry sauce, then comes the challenge to use up all the good food remaining.

Over the years, I've made the usual turkey pot pie, turkey chili, turkey tacos, and turkey-sweet potato hash.

Turkey and wild rice have been redeployed with mushrooms and cheese in casseroles.  Sausage stuffing and roasted Brussels sprouts have filled harvest-roasted squash.
Excess mashed potatoes have been combined with an egg and a can of boneless salmon to make salmon cakes — which go great with cranberry sauce, by the way. Broth and curry powder have turned mashed squash or sweet potatoes into soup.

This year, seeking new ideas that are simple and lighter for just the two of us, I turned to my favorite cookbook by Lidia Bastianich, Lidia's Family Table. I had pulled it from the shelf to prepare to host the author, restaurateur and TV personality in a live Vermont PBS event on Wednesday, December 9.

In the poultry section of the book, right before a multi-page recipe for a balsamic-glazed holiday roast turkey, I found a sidebar describing a simple warm chicken salad with a sweet and sour dressing.

It worked beautifully with some leftover turkey served over crisp greens with a couple squash rolls on the side.  My husband had pumpkin pie for breakfast; I made short work of the bowl pictured above and will happily eat more for lunch.

Warm Turkey Salad with Sweet & Sour Dressing

Serves 3
Note: Take care to store and use leftovers, especially meats, safely.

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 cups shredded, cooked turkey meat
  • 3 tablespoons chicken or turkey stock, or water (I used gravy thinned with water)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Greens for serving
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, white vinegar and honey.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the golden raisins to the pan, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently for 4 minutes. Remove the raisins with a slotted spoon and set aside in a heatproof mixing bowl.
  3. Return the liquid to a boil and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until it is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Pour the dressing into the heatproof mixing bowl.
  4. In a medium sauté pan or skillet, combine the shredded turkey with stock or water. Set over low heat. Rewarm and moisten turkey, tossing occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the warm turkey to the bowl with the dressing and raisins. Add the olive oil, salt and pine nuts. Toss together. Add more salt as desired.
  6. Serve warm turkey salad over greens immediately.
Source: Adapted from Lidia's Family Table by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich (Knopf, 2004)

Got cooking questions? Email pasanen@sevendaysvt.com.