Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey...Leftovers

The Thanksgiving celebration has come and gone. If yours was anything like mine you ate way too much incredibly delicious food, lounged around the house in sweatpants for several hours and then got your game face on for black Friday shopping. If yours was nothing like mine, it probably still involved copious amounts of turkey, gravy, dressing, potatoes, vegetable casseroles, roles, pies and the like. With a Thanksgiving feast comes the inevitable refrigerator full of leftovers.

Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving leftovers. For about 36 hours. After that, I'm really, really tired of turkey that's now losing its moisture, gravy that looks like Jell-o, and casseroles that are more chewy than crisp. It's one of the many reasons I'm thankful I don't host actually Thanksgiving; it's not my refrigerator that gets packed full of tupperware!

What to do with all that turkey...
Here are three different ways you can use the leftovers to give you a break from mundane reheating:

The Traditional: Open-Faced Turkey Manhattan
This is a great way to use up lots of Thanksgiving day leftovers at once. Start with a slice of bread and layer mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy on top. The turkey and gravy should reheat in the microwave with no problem. You may need to add a bit of milk to the potatoes to get them back to their fluffy consistency. Warm the potatoes first, then stir in additional milk one teaspoon at a time until you've got the right consistency. 

Healthy Comfort Food: Moroccan Lentils with Turkey
This lentil recipe is one of my go-tos for warm, comforting food that doesn't pack too many calories or fat (an especially nice post-Thanksgiving break).  I usually serve it over spaghetti squash, but have swapped out the squash for turkey in this variety.

Dice a medium onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Saute in 1-2 tbsp. olve oil over medium heat for five minutes. Add one can of diced tomatoes, 2 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. cumin, 2/3 cup dried lentils and 1 cup diced turkey. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water 1/2 cup at a time if the lentils absorb all the liquid before they're done cooking.

Fusion-Inspired: Turkey Dumplings
This will take your turkey out of the Thanksgiving realm entirely. For each serving of dumplings you want to make, take 1/2 cup of shredded cabbage, 1/4 cup shredded carrots and 1/2 tsp. minced ginger and saute in 2 tsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat. Allow the mixture to cool briefly, then spoon equal amounts into 4-6 wonton wrappers, brush water along the edge and press to seal the edges together. Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with vegetable oil and cook the dumplings over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover skillet with a lid and steam dumplings for 3 minutes. Serve with soy sauce mixed with minced ginger to taste.

If you have any recipes you like that call for diced or shredded chicken, substitute your leftover turkey for the chicken. Try turkey in these chipotle tostadas for a decidedly different leftover flavor.

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