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FRESH and Festive: Five Ideas For Leftover Turkey

Does your family lose interest in the leftover Thanksgiving turkey once you run out of gravy – or the minute it goes in the fridge? Don’t let it go to waste. Try one of these ideas to go beyond the turkey sandwich and use up those holiday leftovers.

  1. Turkey Salad – Shred turkey and add dijon, mayonnaise, green onions, celery and a splash of cider vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper. Or, make a curried version – make a dressing of mayonnaise and curry powder, and combine with shredded turkey, halved grapes, finely diced onions, and toasted walnuts or pecans.
  2. Turkey Quesadillas – Top a FRESH flour tortilla with shredded turkey, leftover cranberry sauce, shredded white cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of parsley.  Fold in half and brown in a skillet until the cheese is melted and turkey is heated through.
  3. Turkey Mulligatawny Soup – A FRESH take on chicken soup flavored with curry and coconut milk.  Delicious served with Basmati rice.
  4. Turkey Strata – A crust-free quiche that’s great for brunch.  Mix the shredded turkey with bread cubes, asparagus or broccoli, cheddar and chopped onion.  Add a mixture of eggs, milk and dry mustard. The dish can then be left in the fridge overnight, and baked in the morning.
  5. Turkey Tetrazzini – A popular casserole in the ‘60s and ‘70s, tetrazzini is actually even older than that – thought to be invented by a San Francisco chef in honor of a 1900s-era opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini. Today, most recipes called “tetrazzini” seem to involve lots of canned soups and other shortcuts. But our recipe, simplified from a version by the great Emeril Lagasse in his book New New Orleans Cooking, uses fresh veggies and dried herbs and, yes, some butter and cream (but, no, not as much as Emeril’s).

Turkey Tetrazzini
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 Tbs butter, divided
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3- 4 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups milk (we used 2 percent)
12 oz egg noodles
About 3/4 lb to 1 lb, leftover turkey
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Pepper, to taste
3/4 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano or other hard cheese, grated, divided
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Sauté onions in a large skillet or saucepan over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes in 2 tablespoons butter. Add bell peppers and sauté slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes, allowing vegetables to slightly caramelize. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft. Finally, turn up heat to medium and add mushrooms, and cook until soft. Sprinkle vegetable mixture with oregano, garlic salt, crushed red pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and combine with flour to make a paste; thin with a bit of milk if too thick. Add flour-butter mixture and chicken stock to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce starts to thicken. Add cream and milk and allow mixture to cook for up to 30 minutes, but do not allow to boil. Sauce should become thicker as it cooks.

Meanwhile, prepare egg noodles as directed on package. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Add noodles, turkey, salt, and 1/2 cup grated cheese to thickened sauce mixture and combine well. Add pepper and additional salt to taste. Place this mixture in casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheese. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.