The Bonus of a Holiday Meal
I've never been a fan of the idea of taking the carcass of a leftover turkey and making soup. The times I've tried to do this I've ended up with a watery stock that's as much effort to make as starting from scratch but with half the flavor.
Instead I prefer to do three things with Thanksgiving leftovers:
- Send doggy bags home with dinner guests (but save any leftover pie for your breakfast).
- Pack into serving portions and take them to work for lunch.
- Re-purpose the leftovers into new dishes that keep the ingredients appealing.
The easiest leftover to put into a new dish is leftover turkey. While it's not my favorite and I easily get tired of eating it, turkey's bland flavor makes it an ideal partner to other foods that have more personality. Here are some suggestions for getting more meals out of holiday leftovers -- both turkey and vegetables.
- Sandwiches with Cranberry Sauce. Buy a rustic bread such as a pugliese, ciabatta or sourdough and broil or pan grill the bread so that it's crusty on the outside but still tender inside. Use good mayonnaise, homemade cranberry sauce, a few leaves of arugula. This sandwich is so good it's almost worth roasting a turkey.
- Turkey Chili. Most chili recipes start with raw ground turkey so to make a version with cooked turkey, make a meatless chili and then add chunks of cooked turkey and heat until the pieces are warmed through.
- Turkey Tikka Masala. If you're not a home cook who is practiced in making Indian cuisine but you love its robust flavors and complex sauces, you can purchase one of Maya Kaimal's superb prepared Indian sauces. Combine it with your turkey leftovers and you'll do better than many of New York's Indian restaurants.
- Turkey Salad. Make it special by making your own mayonnaise. Mix with small diced celery and generous chunks of turkey and use either in sandwiches or else alongside sliced tomatoes and dressed greens.
- Turkey Burritos. Cook sliced onions and peppers in a little olive oil until they're tender, add chunks of turkey and heat through. Fill a flour tortilla and top with your favorite salsa and either shredded jack cheese or a spoonful of reduced fat sour cream.
- Cobb Salad. A restaurant favorite chopped salad that combines equal portions of cooked turkey, blue cheese, avocado, bacon and romaine lettuce.
- Turkey Hash. In a skillet sauté cubed potato with minced onion and garlic in a little olive oil. When the potatoes are tender and crispy, add an equal amount of cubed cooked turkey. When the turkey is warmed through serve with a fried egg and whole wheat toast. It's a perfect lunch or brunch on the holiday weekend.
Leftover Vegetables and Sides
- Egg White Omelets with puréed vegetables such as squash or sweet potatoes or other leftover vegetables.
- Mashed Potato Patties. Combine leftover mashed potatoes with a lightly beaten egg and a generous spoonful of grated parmesan cheese. Using your hands shape into serving-sized patties and cook over a medium heat in a little olive oil until cooked through and crispy on the surface.
- Potato Gnocchi. Half the effort of making these little pasta pillows is the mashed potatoes so if you have leftovers, perhaps this is the time to try making gnocchi.
- Butternut Squash Soup. Leftover squash puree can be turned into a hearty soup with a quick sauté of a finely diced onion, some boxed chicken stock and a few drops of Tabasco or lemon juice.
- Whole Wheat Pasta With Roasted Vegetables. If you roasted your vegetables and there are some left over, these combine beautifully with a whole wheat or farro pasta. See our recipe.
- Potato and Salmon Patties. Leftover mashed potatoes combine beautifully with canned salmon. Add a lightly beaten egg, perhaps some snips of chives or a little dill and pan cook about 3 to 5 minutes a side.
- Sweet Potato Soufflé. Leftover puréed sweet potato or butternut squash can become the base for a soufflé. Follow the directions for any savory soufflé by beginning with a roux (melted butter and flour), add milk to create a thick sauce, season with salt and pepper, and whisk in puréed vegetable and egg yolks. Fold in whipped egg whites and bake. We've added a link below to a recipe on Epicurious that will help guide you. Just substitute your own leftover purée for the recipe's frozen one