Let’s Dish! Let’s Talk About Thanksgiving… Leftovers

By MaryAnn Miano

N7ALL(1)You’re making a delicious, traditional meal for Thanksgiving.  You’ve got plenty of people coming for dinner, and you’ve looked through your old cookbooks, searched the internet, and visited blogs for the perfect way to cook a turkey. You’ve got ideas for appetizers, trimmings, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Good for you!

Anyone who has hosted a large Thanksgiving gathering knows it challenges your math skills, your timing of the oven just right, and a little bit of your sanity. However, when the day is over, you’ve made it – accomplished, but somewhat exhausted.

For this reason, you will gladly welcome leftovers the next day! Everyone knows that it’s the day after Thanksgiving when the fun really begins. Thanksgiving Day may be the main event, but the days following are a welcome opportunity to reinvent the leftovers.  The criteria for leftovers need to be easy to assemble; quick, not time-consuming; tasty, yet different from the Thanksgiving meal itself; and an all-in-one approach so you can have time to catch the sales on Black Friday.

Without further ado, here are some interesting recipes to try that fit the above criteria!

STUFFED PEPPERS WITH THANKSGIVING LEFTOVER TURKEY

Four large green peppers

2 tablespoons oil

One onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded cooked turkey

4 cups marinara sauce

4 cups baby spinach

2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Gently cut the tops of the peppers and scoop out the core and ribs. Trim the inside of the top and wash out the peppers. Steam for 7 minutes or until just getting tender.

Oil a baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a skillet, heat oil to medium low and add onion and red pepper; saute for 5 minutes or until soft. Add turkey, marinara, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle simmer to heat through, add spinach, and stir until just wilted.

Remove from heat and fold in half of the cheese and the rice.  Add the mixture to the pepper bottoms and place in the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and the pepper tops. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

HOMEMADE TURKEY SOUP

Carcass from cooked 10- to 12-lb. turkey

3 quarts (12 cups) water (can use chicken or turkey broth in place of water)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning or dried sage leaves

1 dried bay leaf

½ cup uncooked pearl barley

3 medium carrots, sliced (1 ½ cups)

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)

3 cups cut-up turkey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, if desired

Break up turkey carcass to fit 6-quart Dutch oven. Add water, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and bay leaf. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 1 hour 30 minutes.

Skim off any residue that rises to the surface. Remove bones, meat, and bay leaf from broth; cool. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces; set aside.  Discard bones and bay leaf.

Skim fat from broth; discard. Add turkey meat cut from bones to broth; stir in barley.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in carrots, onion, celery and 3 cups cooked turkey.  Simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and barley are tender. Stir in parsley.

(Note:  Turn this recipe into Turkey Vegetable Soup by adding 3 cups cooked or raw vegetables, perhaps using more Thanksgiving vegetable sides leftover to toss into the soup.)