Growing up, my brothers and I were turkey vultures. We would be circling the bird as soon as it was out of the oven, elbowing each other for space to pick at the stuffing that had swollen out of the cavity, burning our mouths with pieces of breast ripped straight off the bird. I have to hand it to my ever-patient mom for never so much as giving us a dirty look for this opportunistic act. Needless to say, we never had a lot of leftovers.
I don't know if the turkeys have gotten larger or my stomach has become smaller but these days there tends to be more turkey than I can eat. And so the quest to use up the leftovers begins…
There are lots of interesting and appealing ways to reinvent your turkey, stepping out of the turkey sandwich trap. Here are some ways to infuse life into that leftover carcass:
Put it in a pot: Ok, I know, everyone makes turkey soup but it is the go-to option for a reason. Make a stock out of the carcass and then add vegetables, diced turkey meat, and lentils, noodles or barley. Freeze it in individual containers and bring it out when you're under the weather or just need a quick dose of homemade soup.
Wrap it up: Warm yourself up by stuffing some turkey in your enchiladas, tacos or burritos and eating them with hot salsa.
Make a pie: Instead of the usual turkey pot pie, try a pizza. You can even use a whole wheat pita for the crust if you're looking for a fast lunch option. Throw the chopped up turkey meat on with a bunch of veggies and tomato sauce or try a taste of the tropics with this approach. Mix ½ bbq sauce and ½ tomato sauce as the base, top with coloured peppers and onions (caramelize them first to bring out their natural sweetness), canned pineapple, chopped up turkey meat and a bit of mozza. Hey mon, that's good pizza!
Toss into pasta: Substitute turkey into any recipe that calls for chicken, or add it to any of Joanna's ideas for a supper that the kids will love.
Go green: Top off a green salad with chopped cooked turkey for a satisfying lunch option. You could sprinkle some dried cranberries or chopped grapes and a few toasted walnuts for an added punch.
Do something eggceptional: There is more to breakfast than bacon or sausage. Add cooked chopped turkey meat to an omelette or frittata. This also makes a great quick supper with a green salad on the side. Try it with sundried tomatoes, green (or any other) onion and parsley or zucchini, garlic and a pinch of curry powder.
New take on the old sandwich: Not all sandwiches are created equal - here are some options:
- Turkey, pesto (mix with a bit of mayo), spinach (or arugula) and tomato on toasted rye
- Spread a bit of mango chutney on a whole wheat english muffin, top with spinach leaves, turkey and sprinkle a bit of cheese. Put it under the broiler or in the toaster oven to make it all melty and toasty
- Turkey, dijon mustard, squashed avocado, shredded lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun
- Low fat cream cheese, cranberry sauce, turkey, spinach and a bit of grated swiss cheese grilled on whole grain bread
- Hummus, turkey, chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion in a whole wheat pita
I could keep going and mention turkey chilli, turkey curries, turkey tortilla soup or pretty much any recipe where the meat gets benched and turkey is put in play, but I'll stop there. If you haven't gobbled through your leftovers in 2-3 days, freeze the meat and try some of these ideas in the new year…when the thought of turkey is sounding tasty again!
What do you do with your holiday leftovers?