We’ve all been there: staring down a refrigerator full of leftovers the day after Thanksgiving, wondering where to begin. Sure, you want to use them up wisely so as not to be wasteful with food — but do you really want to eat the same boring turkey over and over again for the next week? Fear not, we’ve got the solution.
When it comes to making the most of your leftover turkey, it’s all about strategy. This month’s recipes will help you transform your turkey day extras into new meals you actually want to eat. By infusing leftover turkey with new flavors and textures, we’ll give it new life and repetition with variety. Whether you’re a true leftover-lover or someone who eats them because you think you should, we’ve got you covered this Thanksgiving with a game plan to liberate your leftovers.
There’s always the classic Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, of course, which we wholeheartedly endorse: layers of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce piled high on toast slathered in mayonnaise. Some might argue this day-after sandwich is even better than the full spread on Thursday. We can usually enjoy one or two of these sandwiches in the days following the big meal, and then we’re ready to switch things up. We’ve put a twist on the leftover sandwich with our Turkey, Apple and Brie Panini with Cranberry Chutney. Layered high with sliced sweet apples, bitter arugula and creamy brie, this is a sandwich that truly has it all.
A person can eat only so many sandwiches, though, no matter how delicious they are. Enter your new leftover lifesaver: Turkey Tetrazzini. Made by tossing leftover turkey and peas with spaghetti and creamy mushrooms in a flavorful sauce, this day-after-Thanksgiving baked pasta casserole is a classic. The dish is believed to have originated in the early 20th century, created especially for the Italian coloratura soprano Luisa Tetrazzini, who enjoyed a long and successful international opera career and reportedly had a robust appetite.
Like many casserole-style recipes, it surged in popularity in the 1950s, and its appeal still holds strong today. The best part is that you can do most of the prep, then freeze it and pull it out in mid-December to pop into the oven when the holidays have you too busy to cook. A ready-to-heat-and-eat homemade meal is like money in the bank this time of year.
Finally, because everyone loves a cozy bowl of soup, we’ve got a big pot of Curried Turkey Soup to use up whatever turkey remnants remain. Fashioned after a classic Anglo-Indian soup called mulligatawny, this simple one-pot recipe couldn’t be easier to make.
You start by cooking some onions, carrots, celery and yellow curry powder; then add stock, apples and rice and cook a bit more; and then stir in the chopped cooked turkey. It’s the kind of soup you can throw together while you’re hanging out in the kitchen listening to good music and enjoying a leisurely glass of wine. It’s loaded with flavor and it’s healthy to boot, so we recommend you make a double batch and share it with friends.
Cheers to a joyful and delicious holiday season!
Turkey, Apple and Brie Panini With Cranberry Chutney
Servings: 4 sandwiches
The key to this sandwich is cooking it over medium-low heat. If your pan is too hot, the bread will turn to a golden crisp in minutes, but the inside of the sandwich will still be cold. Go low and slow so that the sandwich fillings will be warmed through just as the bread gets perfectly crispy.
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup cranberry chutney
- 8 ounces brie cheese,
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 12 slices leftover turkey
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
On each slice of bread, spread mayonnaise on one side and cranberry chutney on the other side; the mayonnaise side is the outside of the sandwich.
Lay out 4 slices of bread with the cranberry chutney facing up, then layer on the brie, arugula, apple slices and turkey slices. Top each with remaining slices of bread, chutney facing down.
In a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, gently melt the butter. Add sandwiches, 2 at a time, to the skillet and cook until bread is golden brown and brie has completely melted, about 6 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining 2 sandwiches and serve immediately.
This recipe calls for spaghetti, but feel free to experiment with your noodle of choice.
- 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 10 ounces spaghetti
- 3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey
- 1 cup cooked peas
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy saucepan, cook the mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat, stirring, until most of the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated.
Stir in the flour and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes.
Gradually pour in the milk, broth and wine, stirring as you go.
Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and then lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is al dente, then drain well.
In a large bowl, combine the spaghetti, mushroom sauce, turkey and peas; toss until well combined, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in 1/3 cup of Parmesan, then transfer the mixture to a buttered shallow 3-quart oven-safe casserole dish.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, the bread crumbs and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the Tetrazzini and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits. The Tetrazzini may be prepared up to this point 1 month in advance and kept frozen, covered.
Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle of a preheated 375 F oven for 30–40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden. Serve warm.
Curried Turkey Soup
This soup saves well in the freezer; if you make a big double batch the weekend after Thanksgiving, transfer to small lidded mason jars in individual portions to store in the freezer for an easy weeknight dinner throughout the busy holiday season.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups chopped white onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 1/4 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (for garnish)
- Chopped chives and parsley (for garnish)
Melt the butter in a large (6–8-quart) thick-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots, then lower the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 8–10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1–2 more minutes.
Add the bay leaves, stock and rice, then increase heat to high and bring the stock to a low boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the chopped apples, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
Add the chopped cooked turkey to the soup. Return to a simmer and stir in the cream. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Serve in soup bowls, garnished with a drizzle of yogurt or sour cream that has been thinned with a little water. Sprinkle on some chopped fresh chives and parsley and enjoy.