For many of us, the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, or encores…foods so delicious you want to bring them back for another show. In our house, we particularly enjoy feasting on the remains of the bird; hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potato and gravy, spicy turkey enchiladas and black beans, comforting turkey potpies, and savory turkey stew.
This year, I’m expanding our eating adventures and preparing a turkey salad made with couscous. A staple of North African cuisine, couscous is made from semolina that has been precooked and dried. These tiny beads or granules are a form of pasta. Unlike other pastas that are cooked in large volumes of water, couscous (like rice) is cooked in a small amount of water so that all of it is absorbed.
When preparing the couscous, be sure to read and follow the directions carefully, and do not overcook. My first experience with this rapid-cooking grain was a total disaster; too much cooking water for too long produced a big bowl of mush.
The dressing for Couscous Turkey Salad is a tangy combination of fresh orange juice and yogurt and spiced with garlic and cumin. Adventurous folks may like to add other fragrant seasonings like turmeric, ginger or cinnamon. You can also vary the heat with chili pepper flakes or hot pepper sauce. Toasted nuts, dried fruit, chopped scallions and fresh oranges add texture, depth and flavor.
Turkey Couscous Salad is a delicious opportunity to enjoy a combination of traditional and exotic cuisines. This Thanksgiving, for our local farm-raised, Maine turkey and its many encore meals, we are indeed most grateful.
Turkey Couscous Salad
- 1 cup couscous, uncooked
- 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound cook turkey cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- 3 large oranges
- 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Slowly stir in couscous and cover. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff couscous with a fork and place in large bowl.
- Toast walnuts in 350 oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add to couscous along with dried cranberries or raisins and scallions.
- Remove skin and white pith from 2 oranges. Cut into segments and add to couscous.
To prepare the dressing
- Cut the remaining orange in half and squeeze the juice into small bowl. Whisk in the yogurt, olive oil, garlic and cumin. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and stir gently. Chill. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley before serving.