Simple Art of Cooking: With Leftovers, Thanksgiving Is Here to Stay

Turkey leftovers are a blessing when paired with compatible ingredients.
Turkey leftovers are a blessing when paired with compatible ingredients. Credit:

After the feast, are you comforted by visions of delicious leftovers? Or do you deny its presence a second day. Love it or loathe it, Thanksgiving leftovers are here to stay, and I for one love it.

As you ponder what to do with turkey leftovers and the desire to eat a bit lighter, consider a turkey sandwich on a croissant with crinkly spinach leaves, dressed with a mustardy mayonnaise. To further avoid the heat of the kitchen on post Thanksgiving Day, a take on a Thai noodle salad incorporates leftover turkey, cooked and cooled noodles and sweet bell pepper in an aromatic peanut sauce with a bit of spice. To temper the heat of the peanut dressing, consider the cooling cranberry sauce sitting in one of those little containers in your refrigerator.

Don’t you just love it when clearing out the fridge results in new and tasty ways to enjoy leftovers?

Turkey leftovers are a blessing when paired with compatible ingredients.
Makes 6 to 8 sandwiches

6 to 8 croissants
1 1/2 pound thin slices of fresh roast turkey
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried well

Mayonnaise dressing
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Slice croissants in half. Divide turkey slices equally and place on bottom croissant halves. Divide spinach leaves equally over the meat.

2. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, oregano, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture equally on top side of croissant halves and cover sandwich. Arrange on a tray with olives, pickles and chips if desired. Serve at room temperature.

To avoid the heat of the kitchen post Thanksgiving Day this take on an Asian noodle salad incorporates leftover turkey in a soothing tangle of cooked noodles, sweet bell peppers and scallions.
Serves 6 to 8

For the peanut sauce
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 to 2 inch knob of peeled, fresh ginger
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 to 3 teaspoons hot chili oil or 1/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes

For the turkey noodles
3/4 pound thin spaghetti or linguini
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced thin on the diagonal
2 cups cooked, diced turkey

1. Coarsely chop the garlic and ginger and put into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel knife. Process to finely chop the garlic and ginger, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the soy and brown sugar and process to mix. Add the peanut butter and process until smooth. With the machine running, pour the sesame seed oil and lime juice through the feed tube in a thin steady stream. Add several drops of chili oil or pepper flakes to taste. If sauce is very thick, add a tablespoon or two of water as necessary. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

2. To cook the noodles, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rapid boil. Put in the noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes according to the instructions on the package. Noodles should be tender and not al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Dry noodles well in a clean kitchen towel. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss to coat with the oil.

3. Add bell pepper strips, scallions and turkey to the noodles and toss to mix. Add the peanut sauce and mix to thoroughly coat the mixture evenly. Cover the bowl and chill the dish for up to 2 hours before serving.

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