Turkey leftovers transformed

Turkey leftovers salad

Thanksgiving is just days away, yet my thoughts already are turning to leftovers.

The menu for the big day is pretty standard:  Simple roast turkey a la Russ Parson’s Judy bird, decadent mashed potatoes, those sweet potato-stuffed mini pumpkins I wrote about last week, green beans, persimmon salad, fresh cranberry relish, homemade rolls and pumpkin pie from an old “Joy of Cooking” recipe.  It’s a lot of work to pull together, but the basic elements don’t change much from year to year.

When it comes to leftovers, though, innovations are definitely welcome.  Even after the obligatory soup–I’m thinking chili this year–and overstuffed sandwiches on Friday, we usually still have a lot of turkey left in the refrigerator.  And I’d rather be hiking or walking on the beach than spending more time in the kitchen.

By Saturday, I’m looking for an easy, fresh-tasting dish that puts turkey squarely in the background.  This pasta salad fits the bill.

With the gentle texture of orzo pasta and the vivid flavors of curry, chutney and raspberry vinegar, this dish gives turkey a whole new personality.  In fact, you might not even notice it’s part of the mix–which is fine by me. Celery, red bell pepper, scallions and butter lettuce play supporting roles.

This is a refreshing dish that can serve as either a light lunch or the centerpiece of a family supper.  It’s just what I need after the gluttony of the holiday.

If you have Thanksgiving leftover secrets, please share.   We all could use a few new ideas for dealing with the remains of one of our best holidays.

Serves 6

1 cup orzo pasta
2 cups diced cooked turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Major Grey’s chutney
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar
4 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.  Combine pasta with turkey, scallions, celery, red bell pepper and parsley in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, blend mayonnaise, yogurt, chutney, lemon juice and honey.  Heat raspberry vinegar in a small pan or microwave oven until it begins to steam (about 10 seconds in microwave).  Stir curry powder into heated vinegar until dissolved, then stir into mayonnaise mixture to make dressing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta salad with dressing, mixing well.  Let salad chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to develop.

Aleta Watson