For those who just can't get enough of that luscious bird

Entertaining

Salad with tomatoes and avocados is easy as well as versatile

Sunday Gourmet

November 23, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

Leftover Thanksgiving turkey is never a problem at our house. My family looks forward just as much to the dishes assembled with leftover turkey as they do to the stately fowl that takes center stage on our holiday table. In fact, after more than three decades of cooking and entertaining during this long holiday weekend, I've learned to buy a bird several pounds larger than needed just to ensure that there will be plenty of roasted turkey for leftovers.

For my family, Dagwood-style club sandwiches are a perennial hit, as are warm, open-faced creations served on toasted bread and drizzled with hot gravy. Creamed turkey and vegetables ladled into purchased puff pastry shells or spooned over wild rice are always popular, while turkey pot pies prove equally satisfying. I've actually lost count of how many variations I've done on post-Thanksgiving turkey salad, which brings me to a new recipe I've created for 2003.

This year, I plan to toss cubes of moist turkey with diced avocados and quartered cherry tomatoes in a simple dressing made with store-bought mayonnaise, lime juice, toasted cumin and chopped cilantro. Minced celery and crumbled bacon will add crunch to the melange. This turkey salad is versatile. You can serve it mounded on lettuce greens or layer it between toasted slices of whole wheat or white bread. It's also delicious wrapped in flour tortillas or stuffed into taco shells.

Turkey Salad With Cherry Tomatoes and Avocados

Makes about 6 cups

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup regular or reduced-fat (not nonfat) mayonnaise

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice, divided

3 ripe (but not mushy) medium avocados, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice

kosher salt

3 cups diced ( 1/2 -inch or less) cooked turkey meat

1 1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

4 to 5 strips bacon, fried until crisp, then drained and crumbled, optional

red leaf or other lettuce and tortilla chips, optional

flour tortillas or taco shells, optional

whole wheat or white bread, along with lettuce, optional

Place a small skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add the ground cumin and stir and cook 1 minute to toast lightly. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

In nonreactive bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cilantro, 1 tablespoon lime juice and toasted cumin.

In another bowl toss avocados with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Salt them lightly. Add avocados, turkey, cherry tomatoes, celery and 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes to bowl with mayonnaise and toss gently to combine. If desired, stir in crumbled bacon. Taste salad and season with more salt if desired and with up to 1/4 teaspoon additional hot red pepper flakes for a slightly spicier taste. (Turkey salad can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before using.)

Serve salad on red leaf or other lettuce greens garnished with tortilla chips or use as a filling for 6- to 7-inch flour tortillas or 6- to 7-inch taco shells. Or use the salad for making sandwiches with whole wheat or good quality white bread and add some crisp lettuce leaves for crunch.

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