Need an easy way to use up your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? This sweet and tangy salad is the ultimate solution! It’s a medley of delicious flavors, and it’s so simple to throw together that you’ll find yourself making it over and over again!
Tips for preparing this Sweet and Tangy Turkey Leftover Salad
Using up your turkey leftovers couldn’t get any easier! Just crush the cranberries, add a few other ingredients, and mix well. That’s it!
Let’s take a look.
Have the ingredients ready.
Place the cranberries into a small bowl.
Crush well with a fork so that every cranberry is crushed…
Transfer the crushed cranberries into a larger bowl (sure, you can crush them right in that larger bowl, but personally I found crushing them in a separate small bowl easier. In the recipe box at the end of the post I’ve made things even simpler and used just one bowl, so it’s up to you to decide where you want to crush your cranberries…)
Then add the rest of the ingredients: that is, the mayo…
…Sukrin Gold syrup (read about other sweetener options at the end of the post)…
…maple flavoring (I was about to write maple syrup! Definitely don’t use that.)…
…and finally, the shredded or finely cubed turkey.
Enjoy with low-carb bread, if you like. Choose your favorite from these easy bread recipes.
My turkey leftover salad experiments
It might disappoint you to learn that here in Finland we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. So how did I come up with a recipe using turkey leftovers, then? Well, it all started a couple of years ago in late summer when I was emptying the last bits and pieces from the freezer before starting to fill it with the year’s harvest. I found some leftovers from the Christmas ham. Yep, there was a nice piece of cooked ham that had spent half a year in the freezer.
In Finland, people usually get a huge ham for Christmas and they eat it for several days in a row. (Just like Thanksgiving turkey!) By the New Year, everybody is full to bursting after gorging on huge amounts of ham. In fact, you are so fed up with ham that you don’t want to even hear the word “ham.” And if you have any ham left, you shove it into the freezer, where you’ll forget about it and then find it in late summer when you start filling your freezer with the harvest—just like I did.
So there I was holding the piece of Christmas ham. I wondered what to do with it, and first of all, whether it was still edible. I let the ham defrost in the fridge, and it was still in perfect condition. Hmm. I could make an omelet with the ham. Or I could bake some savory, cheesy muffins with ham. But then I realized that Thanksgiving was approaching, and I thought I could use the ham like leftover turkey. That was I could create a recipe that would help my US-based readers find ways to use up their leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
After some careful thinking, I decided to make a salad out of the ham. Because of the season, I also wanted to use fresh cranberries in my salad. Cranberries are such a flavorful, fruity way to jazz up mild ham or turkey meat. Besides, cranberries are low in carbs (in fact, they have the lowest carb count of all berries and fruit).
Since they’re very tart, I wanted to add some sweetener to balance things out. A sweetener with a caramelish note sounded like the perfect way to do that, so I was hovering between granular Sukrin Gold and Sukrin Gold syrup. Since I wasn’t sure if Sukrin Gold would dissolve that easily in the salad, I chose Sukrin Gold syrup.
I now had ham (to mimic turkey), cranberries, and sweetener. I needed something to bind the ingredients together into a rich and creamy salad. Either sour cream or mayonnaise would do the job. I opted for mayonnaise, since sour cream is — like the name suggests — sour, and since the cranberries were really sour and tart, there was definitely no need for extra tang. Mayo would complement that tartness nicely. Plus, it’s extra rich, thanks to all that delicious fat. I wanted to use a homemade mayo that uses light olive oil (like the recipe in my Low Sugar So Simple book that was published exactly one year ago). This type of mayo has a neutral taste, which lets other flavors shine.
Next, I was wondering what to do about seasonings. Maybe something spicy and piquant? Maybe cayenne pepper for a sharp kick? Then I had a brilliant idea: maple flavoring! That would be absolutely glorious with these festive, autumnal flavors. Maple and ham or turkey is a great combo, and so is maple and cranberries. Definitely worth trying!
For my first experiment, I took 2 tablespoons of homemade mayo. I’d planned to use 1/4 cup (60 ml) of mayo at first, but I thought better of it. I’ve learned not to use too much mayo when making a salad. If you do, you’ll end up with the other ingredients swimming in a mayonnaisey fluid, which isn’t very appealing.
Then I took two teaspoons of Sukrin Gold syrup and added it to the cup with the mayo. Hmm. When to add the cranberries? In any case, I should crush them first. But should I crush them separately or with the other ingredients? I decided to crush them separately: it would be easier. 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh cranberries looked like a good amount. Anyway, they’d lose some of their volume during crushing.
After adding the crushed cranberries to the mayo and Sukrin Gold syrup, I grabbed the maple flavoring. First, I thought I’d add one full teaspoon, but since I was making just one serving of salad, that might have been too much. I decided to start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if needed.
I had now mixed all four ingredients together: mayo, sweetener, cranberries and maple flavoring. Finally, I naturally needed to add the turkey (or in this case ham). I took 1/4 cup (60 ml) shredded ham and threw it in. The salad looked pathetic with such a small amount of meat, so I threw in another 1/4 cup (60 ml). Now the consistency (and meatiness) looked just perfect.
It was time for a taste test. The salad was super-delicious, but I thought it could have used more sweetener. After adding more Sukrin Gold syrup (some two tablespoons in total), the sweetness tasted just right to me. The flavor was really multidimensional: the cranberries gave it tartness, the Sukrin Gold syrup lent it sweetness, and the mayo added that lovely rich taste and texture. And the maple flavoring provided a hint of caramel, which was the perfect complement to all the other flavors. And thanks to the ham, the salad was meaty and satisfying. Score!
To make sure that the recipe would work with turkey as well, I bought some turkey meat (like the meat I’ve used in the photos for this recipe) and baked it in the oven. I chopped part of the turkey into tiny cubes and prepared the salad in the same way, using turkey instead of ham. No disappointments there, just pure pleasure! The salad was just as I had expected: rich, tart, sweet and very satisfying! And it wasn’t just me: my husband gobbled it up with relish and asked for more. (Actually, I posted this recipe on my Facebook page a year ago but it seems to have disappeared, so I thought I’d make a full blog post out of it. It’s so good that it definitely deserves it!)
When I started taking the photos and video for this blog post, I realized I didn’t have any low-carb bread. I didn’t want to heat up the oven without good reason, so I baked two small bread “loaves” in the microwave oven with an impromptu recipe. My husband told me to call the bread “Emergency Bread” because it was really a lifesaver: how else would I be able to get good-looking, great-tasting low-carb bread in a couple of minutes? I have to admit it turned out surprisingly well. Maybe I’ll even post it here on my blog.
But you must have been waiting for the recipe for the salad, so here it is:
|Nutrition Information||In Total (recipe makes 1 serving)|
|Net carbs||1.6 g|
Tips for variation
If you can’t find Sukrin Gold syrup or if you are one of the few people whose blood sugar levels rise when you consume it, you can certainly use other sweeteners instead. Safest is stevia — for example, liquid English Toffee stevia or just plain unflavored liquid stevia. You can also use Sukrin Gold (which is granular), or powdered erythritol. Erythritol crystals might work as well: you just have to wait until they have dissolved properly.
To make the recipe even simpler, you can replace both the Sukrin Gold syrup and maple flavor with sugar-free maple syrup, if you can find it. (If not, in my Low Sugar, So Simple book there’s a recipe for a Homemade Sugar-Free Maple Syrup containing only four ingredients!)
There’s nothing preventing you from omitting the sweetener altogether, either; a completely sweetener-free version still tastes amazing.
Don’t stick to just turkey leftovers — this salad is great made with any leftover meat you happen to have lurking in your fridge. Try it with Christmas or Easter ham (like in my experiments), or grilled meat after a huge grill party. All of those will work, and I bet salmon or other fatty fish would work well, too!
Feel free to add some [cayenne pepper|http://amzn.to/2xILiW7] or [crushed red pepper|http://amzn.to/2B4Mcfu] for an extra kick — it goes really well with this mild, sweet, and tangy salad.
For extra texture and crunch, sprinkle crushed walnuts or other nuts or seeds—like toasted sunflower seeds—on top of the finished salad.