Turkey, Sour Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad

Tuesday 12 June 2018

I was reading on line today that here in the UK we are expected to have the longest, hottest summer that we have had in over ten years.  Sun worshippers rejoice!  All your dreams are about to come true!  Myself, I prefer more moderate temperatures, and if the warm weather and lack of rain keeps up, I predict that it won't be long before they are calling for hose pipe bans, which spells doom to gardeners.  We are a green and verdant country, and much of that is because of all the rain that we get.  I am hoping that we have a happy combination of the three . . .  warmth and sunshine, mixed with just enough rain to keep things green.

One thing I really love about the warmer months is the way our appetites seem to turn to the eating of salads and grilled food.  We crave light and fresh, and are only to happy to indulge ourselves in this type of food for as long as we can.  And small wonder this, as we are fortunate enough in this country to have some of the nicest local fresh ingredients available to us in the world. 

Nothing in our garden, with the exception of soft herbs, is quite read to eat yet, but that doesn't stop me from creating lovely fresh salads.  Today's offering is one of my favourites.  Turkey, Sour Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad.

I use farfalle pasta for this, whole wheat if I can get it . . .  its the perfect shape to use in a pasta salad. Nice and open, but with a few little pleats to hold in the dressing.  And that dressing is delicious.  A homemade poppy seed dressing that is lovely and tangy from fresh lemon juice, with a bit of punch from Dijon mustard and sweetness from creamy honey.  

Turkey, Sour Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad

 The salad itself boasts the inclusion of cubed cooked turkey breast.  You could also use chicken if you don't have any turkey.  Also in the mix are dried sour cherries for a bit of sweet tartness, sharp red onions, crunchy celery and salted almonds . . .  and creamy tangy Gorgonzola cheese.

I have also added some chopped fresh basil for a Herby touch, but not a lot because basil can be somewhat overpowering when you use too much.  You just want a hint of basil, a mere hint  . . .

There are some very strong flavours here when you consider Gorgonzola cheese.  I know that many people might find it too strong.  I, personally, quite like it, but if you are not fond, use something milder like a Danish blue . . .  or if blue cheese is not your cup of tea at all, a good Swiss would also work very well with all of the other ingredients.  I think I would leave out the basil in that case however  . . .  with perhaps a few fresh young thyme leaves in it's place, or even celery leaves or fresh parsley.

Turkey, Sour Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad

I have used sour cherries.  Again, because its sweet tartness goes so very well with the other flavours, but dried cranberries would also work in their place.  I like to plump them up for about five minutes in some boiling water.  Make sure you drain them well before using.

I have left the almonds whole, but by all means if you want to, you can chop them.  I find myself today wondering how smoked almonds would be.  Perhaps too strong?  Food for thought there. 

In any case this is a beautiful salad filled to overflowing with colour, taste and texture!  I am sure everyone will love it.  It makes a lovely light supper or a fabulous luncheon dish when entertaining the ladies.

I like to serve it on a bed of torn iceberg lettuce myself, but you can serve it however you wish.  Iceberg has such a benign flavour, that it doesn't clash with anything else and it adds a bit of extra colour and crunch. Enjoy!

*Turkey, Sour Cherry & Almond Pasta Salad*
Serves 4 
This is a lovely salad with beautiful flavours, colours and textures. I like to serve on a bed of shredded lettuce. 

170g dry farfalle pasta (1 1/3 cups)
170g cooked turkey (or chicken) cubed (6 ounces)
1/2 small red onion, peeled and minced
1 large stalk celery, trimmed and diced
50g salted roasted whole almonds (1/3 cup)
45g dried sour cherries (1/3 cup)
75g crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 1/2 ounces)
2 large leaves of basil, chopped
seasoned salt and black pepper to taste 

For the dressing:
180ml extra virgin olive oil (3/4 cup)
60ml fresh lemon juice (1/4 cup)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 heaped TBS creamed honey
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 TBS poppy seeds

Make the dressing first.  Using an immersion blender combine the oil, lemon juice, mustard and honey in a deep cup.  Blitz until thick and creamy.  Stir in the poppy seeds and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place into a bowl.  (Alternately you can blitz in a regular blender or food processor.)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain well, rinse with cold water and drain again.  Pour into the bowl with the dressing.  Toss to coat.  Add the onion, celery, cubed turkey, almonds, dried cherries, cheese and chopped basil.  Toss all together to coat well.  (I like to keep a bit of each of the onion, cheese, celery and basil out to sprinkle on top of the salad for serving.)  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with seasoned salt and black pepper. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve.  Sprinkle with the reserved ingredients just prior to serving. 

Note - if you are planning on making this any more than an hour ahead of time, reserve a portion of the dressing separately and add  only when you are ready to serve. If you are not fond of the strong flavour of Gorgonzola cheese you can use Danish blue, or even Swiss Emmenthaler cheese, cubed.

I am looking forward to having the leftovers today for lunch.  Yum!!  Bon Appetit! 


  1. Oh I bet it's fantastic! J loves Gorgonzola..I bet feta could be used too..I have made a few salads this week..so good..it's been warm enough..

    1. I am sure you could use feta also. I love salad weather Monique! xo

  2. I hope the heat stays into October when we visit! This salad looks to die for. I love every single ingredient. I do love salad cooking in the summer. Heat up the pasta in the morning and the rest of the day, cool! Yum!

    1. Yum is right Jeanie! This is fabulous! How exciting you are coming over to the UK in October! Any chance you will be near Chester? Would be fun to meet up! xo


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