Joni Woolf: Eating light(er) until Christmas

Published 1:10 pm Saturday, November 24, 2018

The great Thanksgiving feast is now a memory, and we hope it is a good one. Many of us feasted on turkey and dressing, and many side dishes and desserts and beverages. Some of us may have overdone it a bit, so perhaps it is time to rein in our appetites and eat lighter for a few weeks. Christmas is coming, and for many families that is a major feast day, beginning with morning coffees or brunches and ending with a traditional family dinner. In the meantime, perhaps we can eat healthier and spend less time in the kitchen preparing meals. Here are a few suggestions one using turkey that was left from Thanksgiving, another that requires some cooking but is not stressful. This would be a good meal for lunch or supper; it takes very little time and some of the ingredients are already on hand. So, lighten up — both the calories and the effort it takes to prepare. This is easy.

Turkey Sandwiches
4 (3 ½ x 3 ½ inch) rectangles Focaccia Bread (see note below)
1 cup Cranberry-Apple Chutney (recipe follows)
12 slices high-quality turkey or smoked turkey breast
3 tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
½ pound blue cheese
3 cups loosely packed watercress leaves and tender stems, washed and dried
Split the focaccia rectangles horizontally. Lay the bottom four slices on the work surface and spread each with an equal amount of the chutney. Fold the turkey slices loosely in half and overlap three of them on top of the chutney. Top the turkey with some of the tomato slices, then crumble about 2 tablespoons of blue cheese on each sandwich. Top each one with ¾ cup of watercress leaves and close with the remaining slices of focaccia, pressing down gently.
Note: You could make your own Focaccia Bread, but why bother when you can go to Café Campesino and buy it fresh — Lee Harris makes it almost every day and it is always good.

Cranberry-Apple Chutney
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
4 cups peeled, cored and diced Granny Smith apples (about 6)
1 ½ cups sugar (or the equivalent in sugar substitute)
Heat a large saucepan over medium low heat. Place the cranberries and apples in the pan and cook, stirring frequently to prevent them from scorching, until the cranberries burst, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Simmer until the apples are completely tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool to room temperature, cover tightly and refrigerate. It keeps in refrigerator up to 5 days.

A nice accompaniment to the sandwich above — or any sandwich, is the Wild Rice Salad that follows. This one has more fruit than one we printed a couple of years ago. Both are good, but this one seems especially appropriate with the turkey sandwich.

Wild Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Orange-Sherry Vinaigrette
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup fresh orange juice (3 oranges)
¾ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 large shallot, minced (1/3 cup)
1 celery rib, diced (1/3 cup)
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 16-oz. package wild rice, cooked and cooled to room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan; bake, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside. Bring orange juice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add apricots and raisins, remove from heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Whisk together the vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, gradually whisk in olive oil. Stir in orange zest, shallot, celery, parsley, fruits with their soaking liquid, and prepared rice. Stir to combine. Stir in toasted pecans just before serving. Salad can be made a day in advance, but store pecans separately and stir in just before serving salad so they retain their crunch. A good white wine, perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, would be a fine accompaniment.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at