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Brown Rice Salad with Leftover Turkey (or chicken), Red Cabbage, and Pecans

Brown Rice Salad with Leftover TurkeyOh, the interesting life of a food blogger. It’s not even quite Thanksgiving, but all too soon the big day will be here, and immediately after that everyone will start searching for recipes to use leftover turkey. My local store had turkeys on sale, so I bought one and cooked it over the weekend to guarantee early “leftovers” so I could try some new recipes. Of course, there’s always many kinds of turkey soup at Thanksgiving time, but I thought a salad that used leftover turkey might be nice for a change.

I originally thought of making this salad with dried cranberries, inspired by a brown rice salad I saw in Bon Appetit Magazine. But considering how much sugar the dried cranberries would add, I decided to use something lower on the glycemic index. That’s how I came upon the idea of using red cabbage in the salad, and it really did work. I loved the crunch of the cabbage and pecans with the brown rice and turkey. Of course, if you’re not a South Beach Dieter and want to make your version with cranberries instead of cabbage, go for it. If you aren’t cooking for many people, you might want to cut the recipe in half, since the cabbage will lose some of it’s crunch after it’s been in the fridge for more than a day. Definitely, this salad could be made with diced chicken any time of the year.

Brown Rice Salad with Leftover Turkey, Red Cabbage, and Pecans
(Makes about 8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with a little inspiration from a salad in Bon Appetit Magazine.)

4 cups cooked long grain brown rice (see recipe notes, do not use instant rice)
3 cups diced leftover turkey
1 cup sliced green onions
1 1/2 cups finely diced celery
3 cup finely chopped red cabbage (about 1/2 head of cabbage)
1 cup chopped pecans (or more, use any nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (cilantro would be good in this, but I didn’t have any)

Dressing Ingredients:
5 T olive oil
3 T rice vinegar (not seasoned)
3 T soy sauce
2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 T agave nectar or honey (use agave nectar for South Beach Diet)
1 T ginger puree (from a jar) or 3/4 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. Spike seasoning (optional, but recommended)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
pinch cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce


At least 2 hours before you want to serve salad, cook brown rice and cool in refrigerator. (I cooked 1 cup Uncle Ben’s whole grain brown rice in a rice cooker, which made 4 cups cooked rice. You could use brown basmati rice, but do not use short grain or instant brown rice.)

Put dressing ingredients in small glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to combine ingredients and let flavors blend while you prep other salad ingredients.

Chop turkey, green onion, celery, red cabbage, pecans, and parsley or cilantro and put in large mixing bowl. Add cooled brown rice and gently stir to combine ingredients. Pour over about 3/4 of the dressing and mix until salad is well coated with dressing. (You probably won’t need all the dressing, but save it to refresh the flavor of any leftover salad which has been in the fridge.) Serve immediately. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, but after that the cabbage will lose it’s crunch.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:

This salad is a good choice for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. It could be a main dish salad, served with something like Wake Up Your Mouth Thai Cucumber Salad or would be a nice addition to a holiday buffet.

More Ideas for Leftover Turkey
(Recipes from other blogs may or may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Turkey Soup Recipes Collection (from other blogs)
Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate
Turkey Barley Soup
Leftover Turkey, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Soup
Leftover Turkey Soup with Double Mushrooms

Kalyn and Mimi’s Chicken Salad with Mustard and Cashews
Chicken Salad with Tarragon and Peas
Curried Turkey Salad with Dried Apricots and Cashews from French Kitchen in America
Curry Turkey Salad from Culinary in the Country
Chicken Salad from Simply Recipes

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11 comments on “Brown Rice Salad with Leftover Turkey (or chicken), Red Cabbage, and Pecans”

  1. What an inspired way to use leftovers. This dish seems to have it all – texture colour and taste! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I should have come here first before wasting my leftover turkey on a bland salad.

    There is always Xmas.

    or I could beg for some leftover turkey from my neighbor.

  3. what a neat idea to use red cabbage, the salad looks wonderful!

    although with all the rice this still has an awful lot of carbs for non-SD-lowcarbers 😉 but I guess I can always up the amount of turkey or add some chopped egg and more nuts.

  4. I won’t have turkey leftovers, so I am thinking I could use small cubes of grilled tofu instead.

  5. Excellent use of that inevitable leftover turkey. No turkey this time of the year for me in Canada…so, will have to wait till Christmas!

  6. Oh, I was so busy salivating, I forgot to thank you for the links!

    I’ve got to try your salad AND come up with a new turkey dish.


  7. This looks very yummy! I am eager to try this salad. I love that summer is almost here and these are the types of meals I will begin to enjoy every day!

  8. Wow – you are so organized and so very brave and energetic to tackle a turkey twice!!! This looks very wonderful – if there are leftovers that don’t get immediately devoured in sandwiches I will give this a try. This year, Thanksgiving is not at my house, but I am coming armed with disposable food storage containers for everyone!

  9. Sounds like me. I made turkey on November first and on November 20th. I already have several leftover turkey recipes in the works.

    But Thanksgiving dinner will be Anything but turkey!

    The salad is something I’m going to have to try though. Maybe I’ll buy a few turkey thighs just to test it with

  10. I may buy a turkey just to try that! Or, use one of my rotisserie chickens. We are having Chateaubriand on TG again, so I will have to come up with some way to use those leftovers,

  11. Just lovely Kalyn. We are not having turkey now in OZ, but I am saving this recipe to try out. Brown rice is the ingredient I am trying to incorporate more in my diet!

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