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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
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Make it Low Carb by Joan Hedman

Spectacular Summer Salad

Here in Arizona, 100-degree days arrive in May and stick around well past Labor Day. When it's this hot, nobody feels like cooking, and old favorites lose their appeal. Summer meals tend to be simple for me: grill some meat, put together a salad. Fast, easy, and delicious for every day.

For the times you crave something different or exotic, consider this curried turkey salad. There's no cooking involved if you buy a pre-cooked turkey breast; it's basically chopping and stirring. While the ingredient list looks a little long, it goes together surprisingly fast, and I guarantee you, dinner guests will be impressed.

I created this recipe years ago, based on a favorite dish from a long-defunct restaurant in Cambridge, MA. I never really thought of it as low carb because the original version used cashews and two kinds of raisins. Cashews contain almost three times the carbs of pecans or walnuts, 45 g versus 16 g per cup. And raisins are like tiny sugar bombs, with 115 carb grams per cup.

But I knew I could tinker with the ingredients while retaining the essential flavors and textures. It was easy to substitute diced apricots and prunes for the raisins, and pecans or walnuts for the cashews. But the real surprise came when I added up the numbers. Using the original ingredients, I came up with a respectable 10 net carb grams (total carbs minus fiber) per serving.

With the lower-carb substitutes, we did save a couple of grams, down to 8 grams carb per serving. But cashews and raisins are so much higher in carbs, why wasn't the difference bigger? Two reasons: first, these are not the main ingredients in the recipe. The amount of both nuts and fruits is pretty small. So even though cashews have three times the carbs of pecans, say, the total going into the recipe was only about 11 grams. And although apricots and prunes are lower in carbs than raisins, the incremental difference is not that large when you're only talking about a quarter-cup. So we have an overall small increase, and then — the second reason for the only-2-gram increase — that small difference is divided over eight servings.

So while I won't recommend sitting down and munching handfuls of cashews the way you can with pecans, I will say, go ahead and give them a try in this recipe if you like them. And if you'd rather not have to dice the apricots and prunes, the raisins in this recipe shouldn't sabotage your diet, either.

Seven Jewel Turkey Salad
8 Servings

  • 1/2 turkey breast, cooked and cubed (about 2 pounds)
Dressing: Jewels:
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 3 to 4 green onions
  • 6 dried apricots [or 1/4 C golden raisins]
  • 6 prunes (dried plums) [or 1/4 C dark raisins]
  • 1/4 C pecans or walnuts; [or 1/4 C cashews]

Line a small strainer with a coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth, and set it over a bowl. Put the yogurt into the strainer and let stand about an hour; this will remove some of the liquid. You don't have to do this step but it does give the dressing a nicer texture.

Combine the strained yogurt, curry powder, ginger, vanilla syrup, and lime juice in a small bowl and stir well. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then stir and taste; adjust the seasonings if necessary. It's important to let this stand before adding additional ingredients, because it takes a while for the flavors to blend. The curry powder in particular can really sneak up on you! Ideally you'll have a balance of sweet, tart, and spicy-hot flavors in the dressing.

Add the dressing to the cubed turkey, and gently stir to coat all of the pieces. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you are making this to serve immediately, you can toss all the jewels into a single bowl. If you will be serving this dish more than an hour or two from preparation, I recommend you keep the jewels in separate bowls as follows:

  1. Dice the peppers into 1/8 inch pieces; combine in a small bowl.
  2. Wash the green onions and trim off the ends. Slice, including the white bottoms, into 1/8 inch pieces.
  3. Dice the apricots and prunes into 1/8 inch pieces.
  4. Measure out the pecans or walnuts and set aside.

Just before serving, combine all the jewels together and stir well.

To serve: arrange a bed of lettuce onto each plate or shallow bowl, and scoop some of the dressed turkey onto it. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of jewels over the turkey. Mix, and eat!

Extra jewels can be passed at the table. It pays to keep leftover jewels in separate bowls, as the green onions will overpower all the other flavors quickly, and the nuts get soggy.

290 calories; 15g fat; 10g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 33g protein.
With Raisins and Cashews: 295 calories; 14g fat; 12g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 33g protein.

I love exploring flavors and textures from other cultures, and adapting them for my American family. What inspires you in the kitchen? Drop me a line and help me keep my creative juices flowing!

Copyright © July 2006  Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury



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