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Couscous or Millet Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Smoked Turkey

This is a salad with autumn and winter written all over it. As the days grow shorter and the weather turns colder this salad has the heft to fill you up as a main dish and it doesn’t require lettuce unless you want it to. You can make it ahead of time and serve it chilled or room temperature or make and eat it when it’s slightly warm.  Add a cup of soup and dinner is solved. It travels well and doesn’t wilt — perfect for work or a potluck. You can use leftover Thanksgiving turkey, instead of smoked turkey, or use some of each as the smoked turkey flavor makes the salad pop. It keeps well in the fridge and the Honey Mustard Dressing is addictive. Couscous takes just minutes to cook, you can shell the pistachios while watching Netflix and throw the last ingredients together in 15 minutes.

However, like just about everything else in life, there’s a small catch — couscous has gluten, so for those of us who can’t have gluten, this salad doesn’t work. But, with a slight attitude (ahem), ingredient adjustment, it works perfectly. Just as I discovered years ago that millet is a terrific replacement for bulgher wheat in tabouli (tabbouleh), the same is true for couscous. Most of us think bird seed when we see millet, but half the world uses it as a grain, porridge or in beer making…and also use it as bird seed. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, is quite inexpensive and it doesn’t contain gluten! It does take a bit longer to cook than couscous, but not by much. It fluffs up similarly to rice (and couscous) when it’s cooked and it absorbs the flavor of gravy, dressings and more. Both couscous and millet are low in calories though millet wins when it comes to nutrients as couscous is a processed wheat pasta. Use whichever you prefer as they both work! 

Couscous or Millet Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pistachios
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  1. 10 ounce package of couscous or 1 cup millet, lightly toasted in a heavy skillet
  2. Generous 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  3. 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
  4. 12 - 14 ounces of smoked or roasted turkey cut into bite-size chunks (or use a blend of both)
  5. 1 sweet, crisp apple
  6. 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  7. 3/4 cup shelled pistachios whole or coarsely chopped
  8. Mustard Dressing
  9. 1/4 cup olive oil
  10. 2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
  11. 1 teaspoon honey
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
  14. Spanish smoked paprika to taste or for garnish
  1. If using couscous: In a medium saucepan with tight-fitting lid, bring stock or water to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous and cranberries. Cover and allow to stand 5-to-10 minutes.
  2. If using millet: in a medium saucepan with tight-fitting lid, place millet and stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in cranberries and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. While the couscous or millet cooks, core and chop the apple into bite size pieces, slice the onions and chop pistachios (or serve whole if preferred)
  4. When couscous or millet is cooked, scoop into a large bowl, and toss the mixture with a fork to separate and fluff up the grains. Add turkey, apple, onions and pistachios and mix well.
  5. Prepare the dressing by placing it in a jar with a tight cap. Shake well and pour over salad, mixing well. Serve or cover and chill until 20 minutes before serving.

Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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