If your family is anything like mine, then you somehow always end up with at least a week’s worth of leftover Thanksgiving delicacies. I don’t know about you, but the novelty of microwaving an exact replica of my Thanksgiving plate gets old after a few days. Here are some ways that you can repurpose your mountains of leftovers into new and exciting meals.
The Thanksgiving leftover sandwich is almost as much of a cultural institution as the original Thanksgiving meal. But turkey is really a blank canvas you can take in any number of directions. Combine leftover cranberry sauce with some mayo to create the perfect holiday condiment. Combine your turkey with pesto, tomato and some good melted cheese for the perfect turkey pesto melt. Mix your turkey with a little mayo and some chopped celery and you’ve got the Thanksgiving leftover version of chicken salad.
By far the leftover with the most potential for transformation is mashed potatoes. They are the perfect blank canvas for any interpretation. The first and most obvious way to make these more exciting is just adding some seasoning into the equation. Roasted garlic and white cheddar, pesto, or the Trader Joe’s Ranch seasoning are some of my personal favorite flavor profiles. If you add some flour and an egg to a small bowl of mashed potatoes you can turn them into patties and pan-fry them to crispy potato perfection. This option becomes extra wonderful with the addition of some cheese stuffed in the middle.
Not to mention, having mashed potatoes means half the work of making gnocchi is already done for you. All you have to do is add flour until your potatoes can form a firm dough. Then roll them into strips, cut them into some cute little nuggets and boil them in salted water until they float. From there, just let your creativity take the wheel. The simplest option is just to dump your favorite jar of pasta sauce over the top and boom, meal completed. You can mix your gnocchi with tomato sauce, ricotta and any melty Italian cheese of your liking and then dump that into a baking dish for the perfect pasta bake.
Another wonderful possibility is turkey soup. The simplest version of this is to saute carrots, celery and onion in a little butter, add your turkey, cover with the stock of your choice, season to taste and then throw in any pasta shape you desire. Any leftover vegetables you’ve still got lying around from the big day, now they are soup. Everything is “soup-able” if you only believe in yourself. If you’re feeling a little extra adventurous you can even make your own turkey stock by boiling the carcass of your turkey into absolute oblivion (a few hours).
Now, this is the bare minimum needed for deliciousness. There is plenty of potential to spice it up. A bell pepper, a can of tomatoes, some beans, and a little extra seasoning to this base recipe can quickly become the perfect turkey chili. This would go perfectly with some leftover cornbread or biscuits if you have any. Some cream, a little spinach and the previously suggested mashed potato gnocchi turn it into a little copycat of the Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi soup.
It may seem like eating your way through Thanksgiving leftovers just means duplicating your holiday plate over and over again until you slowly descend into madness, but it doesn’t have to be that way! There is plenty of room for creativity when it comes to working through the remains of your holiday dishes. Get out there and try something new!