Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkey, apple and fennel bread salad

For this easy, healthy post-holiday meal salad, just toss your leftover turkey (or chicken) in a lemony vinaigrette with whole grain bread, crunchy fennel and sweet apples.

turkey, apple and fennel bread salad -- make with Thanksgiving leftovers or chicken

So yeah, I'm going there. There's still a week to go until Thanksgiving, but I'm going to start talking about the leftovers.

You're going to thank me, really. Because, when you think about it, planning for leftovers in advance in really quite smart. It means that you can be sure that
  1. Your turkey will be large enough to accommodate the awesome turkey sandwiches and dishes you'll be making over the long weekend
  2. You will have all the ingredients you need on hand without having to risk a trip to the grocery store on Black Friday (shudder).
See? It's just smart and strategic to talk leftovers the week before the holiday. Yeah, you're welcome.

And if there's any doubt that Thanksgiving is just as much about the leftovers as it is about the cozy family together time spent cramming in lots of yummy food on a Thursday, let me tell you a true story. Years ago, a former co-worker friend of mine attended Thanksgiving dinner at her cousin's house. Bizarrely (because, remember, this is THANKSGIVING, The Official Day of Over Eating), there was not enough food to feed everyone at the table! (I know, right?) According to my friend, if she hadn't been a thoughtful guest and brought a large tossed salad to the dinner, she would have had nothing to eat, as she gave her son her "portion" of turkey so that at least he would have enough to eat.

Oh, but wait, the story gets better.

After dinner, my again-thoughtful friend is helping the hosts (her cousin, remember) clean up in the kitchen when, opening the refrigerator door, she spies neatly stacked Tupperware containers full of ... wait for it ... THANKSGIVING DINNER. The hosts had pre-leftovered, leaving an insufficient amount of the actual meal for their guests! When my friend, mouth agape, pointed to the containers, her host replied, "Well, you know, Thanksgiving is all about the leftovers!"

So, The Ninj is simply prepping you for the leftover extravaganza in advance, starting with this gorgeous turkey and fennel bread salad. Seriously, peeps, I am addicted to this salad. Using leftover chicken, I've been eating it once or twice a week for over a month now. It. Is. So. Freakin'. Good.

turkey, apple and fennel bread salad -- make with Thanksgiving leftovers or chicken

And good for you: It's a complete meal, with loads of crunchy fresh fruits, veggies, leafy greens and whole-grain bread, lightly dressed with a lemony vinaigrette, and tossed with leftover turkey (or chicken, of course). I particularly love how the mild anise flavor of the fennel complements the sweetness of the apple (I used Honey Crisp).

Let's face it: We could all stand to eat a nice healthy salad after the Thanksgiving bacchanal. Well, unless you had Thanksgiving at my friend's cousin's house -- then you'll need to whip up this salad as soon as you get home from "dinner."

What's your favorite Thanksgiving leftover dish? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

turkey, apple and fennel bread salad -- make with Thanksgiving leftovers or chicken

Turkey, Apple and Fennel Bread Salad

(inspired by a recipe published in Food and Wine)
For an extra-crunchy salad, toast the bread cubes before adding them to the salad.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 apple, cored and diced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3/4 cup sliced celery (about 2-3 ribs)
1 1/2 cups shredded leftover turkey or chicken
2 cups cubed whole-grain bread (about half of a rustic baguette)
2-3 big handfuls of your favorite greens (baby kale, arugula, spinach, etc.)

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and olive oil into a vinaigrette. Add all the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2-3.
-- print recipe --


  1. Just sayin'... someone really seriously needs to buy two turkeys, right? ;-) And... I know, looking at the photo, that you weren't really going to give us a recipe for "fennel bread," but that is how I kept reading the name. Do you happen to have a fennel bread recipe? Cuz now I'm craving it... I think it would be so good in your salad recipe, which looks pretty tasty! c@

    1. Sorry, no fennel bread recipe. :-( But you're right, I should probably just do 2 turkeys Cat!

  2. Favorite After Thanksgiving Meal? Hands down, it's Javanese with cinnamon rolls. The mother of a college friend of mine made this when I visited her after Christmas one year. Simply layer the following on individual plates: rice, turkey, cheddar cheese, chopped sweet pepper (color is your choice..... just keep in mind if you blew your budget for Thanksgiving, then you might want to skip the pricey red ones..... *sigh*), turkey gravy, toasted coconut, mini diced pineapple, green onions....... serve with soft-n-sweet cinnamon rolls (with this meal, I often blow it and serve it with Braum's cinnamon rolls since we live in the heart of the Braum's Ice Cream region of the world.....). Yum! Nothin' better! -- Second best meal is what we usually make though, cuz it's not as fussy: 1) boil the bones overnight in as large of a slow cooker as you have... include salt and vinegar and anything else that sounds good...... and onion peelings, etc. 2) in the morning, strain the broth and add as many diced onions and cloves of garlic as you care to fuss with: then put in about 2-3 tsp of brown rice per cup of broth - - - put the lid back on, and come back later, toss in some diced turkey, and possibly some frozen veggies, ...... then simply sit down to some of the best comfort food ever!