Turkey Dried Cherry Pasta Salad

by Kelly on March 8, 2011

I’ll admit to being a sucker for grocery store deli counter salads.  Tossed with mayo or mixed with vinaigrette they tempt me ruthlessly.  (Whole Foods in particular makes a smoked mozzarella salad I’m smitten with.)  It takes all the willpower I can to wheel my cart by without stopping for a pint.  Because of this, I try to always take the opportunity to make them at home.

Homemade versions provide the perfect opportunities for healthier tweaks – swapping out white flour pasta for whole wheat, yogurt for a little mayo, or simply upping the amount of veggies.  They’re also generally less expensive since you aren’t paying the premium for someone else to make it for you.  Over the course of having this blog I’ve shared some of my favorites like Honey Mustard Cashew & Tofu Pasta Salad, Almost My Father’s Pasta Salad, and Verde Pasta Salad with Crab.  All taste best, in my opinion, when enjoyed as part of a warm summer’s day picnic, preferably with a cool glass of lemonade in hand.  However, if you’re like me and impatient for spring’s thaw to give way to a hot and hazy summer, they are still pretty tasty these days as well.

Turkey Dried Cherry Pasta Salad

One salad I’m amazed it’s taken me so long to share is Turkey Dried Cherry Pasta Salad.  Studded with almonds and dried cherries and tossed with a tangy-sweet dressing it’s a mainstay on the menu of D’Amico and Sons, a small chain of gourmet Italian cafes that I used to frequent when living in Minnesota.  I would frequently visit the restaurant  to grab the salad to go for lunch at my various college internships and first started making it at home around the same time.  I still enjoy making it to this day.  While I’ll admit my enthusiasm for different recipes comes and goes, this recipe has a kind of timelessness and understated elegance that it continually holds my attention.  It also doesn’t hurt that with a little prep work it comes together quickly.  In a pinch, I grab roast turkey from the deli and chopped celery and onion from my grocery store salad bar to make this even easier.

Turkey Dried Cherry Pasta Salad Recipe
Inspired by D’Amico & Sons
Serves 6

Ingredients:

POPPY SEED DRESSING
-½ cup light mayonnaise
-1 cup fat free yogurt
-1 tablespoons dijon mustard
-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
-1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
-1 tablespoon water
-¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground fine
-¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
-1 teaspoons kosher salt

SALAD
-½ lb. rotelle pasta
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-8 ounces turkey
-3 ounces dried cherries
-½ cup yellow onions, medium diced
-½ cup celery, medium diced
-½ cup toasted whole almonds

Method:

Using a whisk mix together all the ingredients for the dressing until smooth and well incorporated; set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain, toss in olive oil and cool completely.

Combine pasta, turkey, cherries, celery and half of the almonds in a large bowl. Mix in dressing to desired consistency. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the remaining almonds.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Jung March 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

Love this! It reminds me of how grapes in chicken salad take a classic to new heights. I bet the dried cherries here make this dish unforgettable.

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Kelly March 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

Carolyn – The dried cherries are really delicious in this dish. I love how they have that nice tart/sweet balance. Lately I’ve been very into dried strawberries as well so I’ve been considering remaking this swapping in dried strawberries for the cherries and pistachios for the almonds.

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Biz March 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

My grocery store has a broccoli, carrot, raisin salad that’s to die for – never thought to make it at home though – and probably way healthier too! 😀

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Kelly March 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Biz – I’m a huge fan of that one. My mother made a similar salad growing up that was always so good, but knowing everything that went in hers was certainly not of the healthy variety.

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Shannon March 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

love what you threw in here, and with a poppyseed dressing, fabulous! i think i’ve tried WF’s tuna salad before, that was good… but i think i’m better off just making this 🙂

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Kelly March 12, 2011 at 1:49 am

Shannon – Thank you. It was actually completely inspired by the restaurant so I cannot take much credit, but it is so fabulously good.

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Mary March 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

What a wonderful salad. That dressing sounds delicious. It is still a little early here for salad, but I’ve bookmarked this one to use later on. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

Reply

Kelly March 12, 2011 at 1:46 am

Mary – Thanks. I know it’s definitely early for pasta salad, I just couldn’t help myself. I have to admit that a lot of my recipes right now are taking a similar tone with their longing for summer.

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5 Star Foodie March 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

An excellent pasta salad, I love the addition of dried cherries!

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