Turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa recipe

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa | pamela salzman

I know you are all in major Thanksgiving prep mode.  But I wanted to post this recipe for the day after if you are planning that far ahead.  And if that is the case, you and I are probably good friends, or should be.  One of the reasons I absolutely love the day after Thanksgiving is because I sit in my pajamas until noon like a lady of leisure and make everyone bring me things like tea and slippers, and fetch me the remote control because I slaved over that meal for days and days and I deserve to sit on that couch for as long as I feel like it.  Ha!  Once a year, it’s nice to be queen for the day.

salsa prep

I also love the day after Thanksgiving for the leftovers.  Leftovers mean I don’t really have to cook, but I do need to figure out how to repurpose turkey and potatoes and such in a tasty way.  I used to just literally reheat everything and we would have another Thanksgiving dinner the next night with some fresh turkey vegetable soup from simmering the turkey bones all day.  But personally, I have tired of that sameness two days in a row and have begun to look for ways to redo leftovers that don’t seem like leftovers.  I have made turkey shepherd’s pie and turkey pot pie (use turkey instead of chicken in this recipe), as well as Southwestern turkey and black bean chili and turkey, butternut squash and wild rice soup and so on.

cooking green onions

cooking the quesadillas

But this year, I am really going off in a different direction with these Turkey and Spinach Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa. Has this New Yorker been in Los Angeles too long?  By the sound of today’s post, you might think so.  Or maybe it’s because as I write this, it’s 75 degrees and my mind isn’t going toward something heavy like turkey stew.  I like this recipe for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that it’s tasty.  Another reason is that it’s so easy and I don’t need multiple pots and pans and cutting boards.  I am kind of not into cooking this Friday.  Lastly, I like the twist of a different, fresh flavor.

or try with avocado instead of cheese

My family all had different opinions about this recipe which is why my life stays interesting.  Mr. Picky still will not eat cheese because he thinks it’s the devil and I won’t eat it often because it’s not great for me, so the two of us tried the turkey quesadilla without cheese and with avocado instead.  Delicious!  The creamy from the avocado was a perfect replacement for the melted cheese, in our opinion.  As for the salsa, my husband likes cilantro 50% of the time and in the cranberry sauce was not one of those times.  One of my daughters put plain cranberry sauce on her quesadilla and liked that just fine and thought that would be a better way to present this recipe since there was no extra work involved there.  True.I also loved the cooked green onions, but there’s a good chance you might not have those lying around, so if you could easily sub cooked regular onions if you’re motivated.  No judgment from me if you’re not, though.

Hope you have an amazing holiday!  We all have so much for which to be grateful!

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa | pamela salzman

turkey and spinach quesadillas with cranberry salsa

Turkey and Spinach Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa
Serves: 4-8
  • Salsa:
  • 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped green onion or finely diced shallot
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Quesadillas
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup 2-inch pieces of green onion
  • a few teaspoons unsalted butter or more olive oil
  • 8 (8-inch) whole grain tortillas (I like Rudi’s whole spelt and Food For Life sprouted grain)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  1. Prepare the salsa: combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare quesadillas:  heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Warm olive oil and sauté the green onions for a couple of minutes until tender.  Remove the onions and lower the heat to medium.
  3. Add a little butter or oil to the pan, place a tortilla on the pan and sprinkle cheese over the tortilla, Top the cheese with ¼ of the onions, ½ cup turkey and a handful of spinach leaves.  Cover with a tortilla.  Cook until the underside is lightly golden and flip over.  Cook until cheese is melted.
  4. Make remaining three quesadillas in the same way, adding a little extra butter to the pan if necessary to prevent sticking.
  5. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges and serve with prepared cranberry salsa or plain cranberry salsa.

Cranberry-orange almond flour muffin recipe

cranberry-orange almond flour muffins | pamela salzman

Even though Thanksgiving is passed, I am not letting go of cranberries just yet.  I’m not letting go of winter squashes, pears or apples either for that matter.  And I might just make some pumpkin pancakes tomorrow morning if I feel like it.  I am not yet tired of all those fall flavors, nevermind that winter is knocking at the door.

almond flour and coconut flour


this is a thick batter

I made these cranberry-orange muffins on a whim the other day and just had to share.  Even though my family and I are not technically gluten-intolerant, gluten is something I mindful about limiting because it is quite pro-inflammatory and hard to digest and something that can be overeaten very easily.  So every now and again when I want to bake something, I play around with gluten-free flours based on grains like rice or millet (if you haven’t tried these Millet Blondies, you must!), or to go grain-free I love using almond flour and coconut flour.  There’s not one flour that mimics wheat perfectly, but there are ways to achieve a similar result.  One of my kids’ favorite muffins is this recipe for Chocolate-Banana-Almond Muffins with Chia Seeds.  That recipe uses all almond flour and has a very nice light, moist interior and such a yummy flavor.  I otherwise don’t love using all almond flour in baking since things can get a little heavy.  And you have to be sure to use almond flour and not almond meal.  Almond flour is very fine and almost powdery.  Almond meal is a little coarser which isn’t as desirable when you’re baking a muffin.

sprinkle the tops with almond flour for a nice finish

One of my new favorite combinations is using almond flour with a little coconut flour mixed in.  The result is just a little lighter and chewier than with all almond flour.  It’s still not exactly like wheat or spelt flour, but it’s close enough and my kids love muffins I make this way, including these cranberry-orange beauties.  These muffins are just sweet enough, in my opinion, with a hint of orange.  My family doesn’t love an overwhelming orange flavor, so the zest of 1 orange was perfect for us.  But my favorite part is biting into a tart cranberry.  I love contrasts in textures and flavors, so the tart and sweet always gets me!  I remember making cranberry-orange quick bread when I was little girl.  One of the reasons I’ll never forget it is because I completely screwed up the recipe the first time by mistaking baking powder for baking soda and things didn’t rise the way they were supposed to.  Live and learn.  Even though it was as dense as a brick, the flavors were still so good and we ate the whole thing anyway!

cranberry-orange almond flour muffins

You can still find fresh cranberries in the markets and they also freeze beautifully if you would like to stock up and make cranberry-based recipes in the future.  I think these are great for lunch boxes or for a chilly afternoon with a cup of tea, but I also would love them on Christmas morning, which is two and a half weeks away!!  Loved being with you today, but it’s time for me to make like an elf and get back to business.  Until next time!

cranberry-almond orange flour muffins | pamela salzman


cranberry-orange almond flour muffins | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Cranberry-Orange Almond Flour Muffins
Serves: makes 9
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 6 large eggs (or 4 eggs and 2 “flax eggs”*)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • a heaping cup of fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with 9 unbleached parchment liners.
  2. Place the 2 cups of almond flour in a large mixing bowl. Remove 2 Tablespoons and transfer it to a small bowl and set aside. Add the coconut flour, baking soda, salt and orange zest to the large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a blender, add the eggs, honey, vanilla and vinegar. Blend until well combined.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl and combine well. Fold in the cranberries.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup to the top. I use an ice cream scooper to do this. Lightly brush the tops of each muffin with butter and sprinkle with the reserved almond flour and (optional) sliced almonds.
  6. Bake until lightly golden and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
*1 flax egg = 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal + 3 Tablespoons warm water. Stir together and allow to gel, about 15 minutes.

You don't have to do the almond flour and sliced almonds on top, but it makes a pretty finish!


Gluten-Free, Vegan Pear-Cranberry Tart Recipe

Why do so many people go on cleanses on January 2nd?  One word — SUGAR.  It starts on Halloween with an innocent bite of an Almond Joy and keeps coming until New Years Day with that “one last piece” of cake since the big diet will start tomorrow.  I’m the first to admit that although I may be pretty disciplined during the year, a few sweet indulgences here and there during the holidays throw me off for weeks.  Damn!  One of these years I’m just going to say “no, thank you” over and over in November and December because I really am much happier when sugar and I go our separate ways.  I am especially going to reject any food with the word “slutty” in front of it.  Or at least I need to stick to more natural desserts that don’t make me feel like I’m going to hell.

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s fun to give in.  It’s the holidays.  What about everything in moderation?  If you say so.  As for me, sugar is out to get me.   It makes me feel horrible afterwards, saps my energy, ruins my skin, and leaves me craving nourishment, among other things.  The worst part is I go back for that same punishment that next day!

I know it seems hypocritical that I started this post whining about sugar and now I’m encouraging you to make dessert.  HOWEVER, there are desserts out there that deserve a little more respect since they are made of higher quality ingredients that don’t leave you regretting what you’ve just eaten.  Like this Pear-Cranberry Tart!  When Jenni Kayne and The Chalkboard Mag asked me to create a vegan and gluten-free holiday menu which was also healthful, the dessert was what I figured would be the challenge.  But I have to say, this turned out great and may be one of my favorite desserts to date.  It’s seasonal, beautiful and just plain delicious.  The tart is sweet, but in a fresh and clean way that doesn’t make you feel like you just got a sugar injection.  And I love the contrast of the soft pears with the nubby crust and crumbly topping. Whereas this looks impressive, it’s really quite easy.  The press-in crust is the perfect answer for those who don’t feel comfortable making and rolling out pastry dough.  Plus it’s the perfect dessert for the holidays since you can prep much of it in advance (see my notes at the bottom of the recipe.)

Don’t let the gluten-free and vegan label throw you off.  Sometimes people, including my darling husband, rush to judgment about “alternative” desserts without giving them a chance.  But sure enough, my kids all loved it, although Mr. Picky picked out the “sour” cranberries.  No problem, send those over here.  I think you could even eat it with a dollop of whole yogurt and call it breakfast.  I did.  And I didn’t have any regrets in the morning.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Pear-Cranberry Tart
Serves: 10
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup rolled oats (look for gluten-free oats, such as Bob's Red Mill)
  • ⅔ cup oat or whole spelt flour (look for gluten-free oat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill; spelt flour is not gluten-free)
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Filling:
  • 3 firm, but ripe pears, cored and sliced into ⅛th-inch wedges
  • 1 handful fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (I use Grade A for a more subtle flavor)
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup oat or whole spelt flour (look for gluten-free oat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill; spelt flour is not gluten-free.)
  • ⅓ cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt (omit if using Miyoko's vegan butter or Earth Balance)
  • 4 Tablespoons cold Miyoko's vegan butter, organic Earth Balance, unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, cut into pieces (butter is not vegan; Miyoko's, Earth Balance and butter give a better result than coconut oil, but coconut oil works just fine.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If your tart pan tends to leak when baking, you should also line the bottom with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Place all crust ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Press crust evenly on the bottom of the pan and into the rim. Freeze crust while you assemble the filling.
  3. In a large bowl gently combine filling ingredients and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, squeeze topping ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture looks well combined, pebbly and no longer dry or dusty.
  5. Remove tart pan from freezer and layer the pears and cranberries on top of the crust. Pour any juices from the bowl on top of the fruit. Spread the crumb topping over the fruit.
  6. Place tart on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is lightly browned. Allow tart to cool slightly before serving. Best eaten the same day it’s made, but if you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator. Do ahead: you can make the crust up to a day ahead and keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator. You can also make the topping a up to 3 days ahead and keep that in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Raspberries

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Raspberries | Pamela Salzman
Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Raspberries | Pamela Salzman
Photo by Carley Rudd

I use a cranberry sauce recipe for Thanksgiving that has been in my family longer than I have.  My aunt received the recipe over 40 years ago from a colleague in New Jersey, who received it from someone who lived in her apartment building in New York City.  I have loved this cranberry sauce for as long as I can remember.  It makes no sense to me why I ever tried other recipes since this one is everything a cranberry sauce should be — uncomplicated, tart, slightly sweet, chunky and fresh.  My kids eat it in a bowl with a spoon, on top of oatmeal, pancakes, or French toast, or swirled into plain yogurt.  And of course, it’s divine on turkey or a turkey sandwich.

The original recipe shows its age a bit since it calls for 1 pound of fresh cranberries, because Ocean Spray used to make their bags in 1-pound sizes.  Now they’re 12 ounces.  The recipe also calls for frozen raspberries instead of fresh because I don’t think you could possibly get fresh raspberries in November 40 years ago.  I have made my own small changes, but it still tastes just as delicious.  I couldn’t help trying to cut back on the sugar a bit by substituting apple juice for water and reducing the quantity of sugar.  And this year I used sucanat in place of granulated sugar and no one could tell the difference.  My aunt’s recipe originally called for “chopped pecans to taste” which I have never put in simply because when I first started making the cranberry sauce, pecans were out of my budget.  So I’ve left them out all these years and I can’t say I miss them.

One thing that has never changed is that I make the cranberry sauce every year the Sunday before Thanksgiving because my aunt does, too.  We call each other on Sunday morning.  In fact, I just got off the phone with her.  “Are you chopping apples?”  “I sure am!”  I make enough for our Thanksgiving dinner with a little for leftovers (two times the recipe.)  But my aunt makes vats of it and then drives around town delivering jars of cranberry sauce to all of her lucky friends.  Our conversation cracked me up this year as she informed me she found BPA-free plastic containers for her sauce and this year she went organic with all the fruit.  I think she’s been reading my blog.  Although when I mentioned the sucanat to her, she said “don’t push it.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pamela Salzman (@pamelasalzman)

5.0 from 2 reviews
Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Raspberries
Serves: makes about 5 cups
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar, or sucanat (you can add more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and picked through for bruised ones
  • 1 10-ounce bag of unsweetened frozen raspberries or 10 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 2 apples* (any variety is fine), peeled and diced (same size as a cranberry)
  • chopped pecans to taste (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar or sucanat and apple juice and bring to a boil. Add cranberries, cover and boil until berries pop, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add raspberries and stir.
  3. Add apples and cook 1 minute.
  4. Add chopped nuts if desired.
  5. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
*This will thicken as it cools and the apples will turn red. The more tart the apples, the more pectin and the thicker the sauce will get.

Good idea to make this the Sunday before Thanksgiving!