When I was a child, my grandmother used to roast up two enormous turkeys at the holidays. And of course that was on top of all the usual gravies and sauces, sides and pies. For days after, the entire family would eat Grandma’s famous “blue plate special,” which was our euphemism for leftovers.
Fast forward to today, and I think turkey actually has a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand it is associated with a day reserved for feasting with abandon. On the other, turkey is a lean protein whose versatility should be celebrated. Just one serving of skinless turkey meat has over half the protein you need for an entire day (and less than one gram of fat!). Plus, turkey is a good source of vitamin B and selenium.
Not only is turkey a healthy choice, but it’s a versatile one, too. And its versatility is the key to avoiding leftover fatigue. So instead of ladling out leftover gravy on yet another open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing, trick your palate into thinking it’s getting something altogether different.
In this turkey and napa cabbage salad with lime-ginger vinaigrette, I take the taste buds someplace decidedly un-Thanksgiving-y in a couple of ways.
I lean toward the anti-feast by making a fresh dinner salad with crunchy veggies and a bright citrusy dressing. Also, I completely change the flavor profile by bringing in ginger and lime, which feel more Asian than Pilgrim. Also consider using leftover turkey to go Mexican (try tacos and a chunky salsa), or Vietnamese (how about a bahn mi?) or Thai (add turkey cubes to a pad Thai or a coconut curry).
However you decide to give new life to your protein-packed leftovers, here is a tip: It’s always easier to remove the meat from the turkey bones the same day it’s roasted. The meat comes away more easily, it won’t dry out (because it’s easier to wrap than a whole bird), and it’s fast and simple to grab just what you need.
TURKEY AND NAPA CABBAGE SALAD WITH LIME-GINGER VINAIGRETTE
Start to finish: 20 minutes
For the salad:
1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 medium carrot, grated (about 3/4 cup)
2 cups cubed cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ounce low-fat baked tortilla chips, lightly crushed
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Sriracha)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
In a large serving bowl, layer the cabbage, scallions, carrot, turkey, cilantro, tortilla chips and peanuts. Set aside.
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and hot sauce until smooth. Add a tablespoon or 2 of water if too thick. Slowly whisk in the oil until well-blended and the dressing is uniform. Add the ginger and whisk until incorporated. When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad, then toss well.
Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories; 160 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 18 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 15 g protein; 970 mg sodium.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the upcoming cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net