14 recipe ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers

From soup to salad to pot pie and more, 14 recipe ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and you have all those leftovers from Thursday's big dinner. And while it's true that sometimes nothing tastes better than a cold plate of leftovers in the calm quiet the day after the big holiday, even the best leftovers can get a little boring after a while. Here are 14 ideas to help you repurpose all that great food in new -- and decidedly different -- ways, from sandwiches to pot pies, turkey gumbo and a quick cassoulet, even a "pain perdu" from stuffing.

Turkey casserole: Chef Thomas Keller can sympathize when it comes to rethinking Thanksgiving leftovers. This casserole makes use of more than just leftover turkey, calling for yams and Brussels sprouts and baked under a crust of grated Gruyere, saltine crackers, pecans and butter. Best of all? You can have this ready in about 1½ hours, start to finish.

Turkey salad sandwich with tarragon and red grapes: Turkey salad is a classic way to make use of the leftover bird, and both the salad and this sandwich come together quickly and easily, with fesh tarragon, red grapes and bright hints of flavor and crunch.

Griddled Thanksgiving stuffing 'pain perdu' with Gouda sauce and poached eggs: This is how Thomas Keller makes use of leftover stuffing, and you might find yourself whipping up an extra batch of stuffing next holiday simply for the leftovers. Stuffing is transformed into "pain perdu" for this breakfast dish. 

Roast turkey and winter vegetable chowder: There's very little active work time that goes into this hearty chowder, and the recipe, start to finish, is ready in an hour. It's the perfect answer to a chilly evening.

Friday night salad with toasted cumin, honey and lime dressing: Did all those heavy holiday dishes weigh you down? Lighten up with this simple salad which comes together in minutes.

Turkey pot pie: It doesn't get much better than pot pie when it comes to rethinking leftovers, and this version, baked under a rich puff pastry crust, is a perfect way to use up leftover turkey.

Pilgrims pie: Another take on the pot pie, this fun version uses leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes as the crust topping.

Carved turkey with kabocha spread and ancho-bell-pepper-cranberry chutney: Chef Judy Han of Mendocino Farms elevates the sandwich with this creation. It combines hand-carved turkey with a puree of kabocha squash, ancho-bell-pepper-cranberry chutney, applewood smoked bacon and romaine lettuce on buckwheat bread.

Turkey pot pie with biscuit crust: Use a medley of leftover vegetables along with the turkey in this pot pie, topped with a rich biscuit topping, ready in only an hour.

Turkey gumbo: Wondering what to do with the leftover turkey carcass? Use it to make a flavorful stock, then use the stock as a base for this rich and hearty gumbo.

Turkey with melted Camembert and mostarda: From chef Michael Voltaggio of Ink, this sandwich pairs turkey breast with thick slices of Camembert, arugula, a little mayonnaise and a generous dollop of mostarda.  

Turkey (or chicken) pot pie: "Just about perfect" is how our own S. Irene Virbila describes a Bradley Ogden pot pie recipe, which she adapted to use after Thanksgiving. "I like the way he cuts the meat into 1- to 1½-inch chunks so you get a real bite of chicken, the way he poaches the vegetables in the chicken stock so the broth picks up even more flavor. Even more important, he manages to arrive at a gravy just thick enough to cloak the vegetables and poultry without being either watery or thick as wallpaper paste. His is a real pie crust too, buttery and flaky and flecked with fresh herbs. For someone who'd grown up on Swanson's, this was nirvana."

Mixed greens with chicken or turkey, goat cheese and pecans: This is a salad I frequently make on busy weeknights using rotisserie chicken from the store. But it adapts well to Thanksgiving leftovers, particularly turkey. Simply substitute turkey for the chicken, throw in some vegetables, and it's a nice, light way to make use of those leftover dishes.

Quick cassoulet: From deputy Food editor Amy Scattergood, cassoulet is a great way to use up the last of that leftover turkey over the course of a lazy afternoon, as the dish slowly cooks away largely unattended. You can find the recipe below.


Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes, largely unattended | Serves 8
Note: From Amy Scattergood.

    1 pound dried white beans (such as cannellini, Great Northern or Tarbais)
    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 pound uncooked sausage, in individual links (use garlic, Toulouse sausage or mild Italian)
    1 large onion, diced (2 1/2 cups)
    1 carrot, diced ( 1/2 cup)
    7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
    1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 stem parsley, 2 whole sprigs fresh sage)
    1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, including juice
    3 cups chicken stock
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups stale white bread, cut into cubes
    1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
    2 cups roast turkey, preferably dark meat or whole legs, skin removed

1. Place the beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil, take them off the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and set aside. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large braising pot with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and then add the sausage, browning it on all sides over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside. Into the same pot with the fat remaining from the sausages, add the onions and carrots. Cook them until soft, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add 6 cloves minced garlic, the bouquet garni, tomatoes with juice, drained beans, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Lay the sausages on the top, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

4. In a food processor, pulse the stale bread until you have fine crumbs; add the remaining minced garlic, the parsley and 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse until combined. Set aside.

5. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and arrange the turkey alongside the sausages, pressing in slightly with a spoon. Add a little stock to cover the beans, if needed. Spread the bread crumb mixture on top. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes; the crust should be golden and bubbly.
Each serving: 461 calories; 32 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 17 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 45 mg. cholesterol; 687 mg. sodium.

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