Make your leftovers pop

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

With a little more than a week to go, I won’t bombard you with a new twist on your holiday classics.

You’ve probably already made those decisions.

What I can help you with is disposing of those soon-to-be-leftovers without outright throwing them away.

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At out house, we generally have tons of leftovers. Everything from green beans to turkey. On Thanksgiving, you probably make up for lost time in turkey consumption. We do at our house.

We don’t eat a lot of turkey through the year but we eat more than our fair share on the holiday.

Still, it’s tough to eat a whole turkey.

So, what do you do? Throw it in the microwave and nuke it with a plate of leftover sides, of course.

They’re really nothing wrong with that but there are plenty of other options, too.

Like turkey sandwiches. Got some leftover, rolls and cranberry sauce, too?

Split the rolls open and slather some cranberry sauce on each side. Put the turkey in-between and there you go.

Got some extra gravy? Okay. Split the rolls and lie each half on a plate, cover with turkey and warm gravy. Poof! Open-face hot turkey sandwiches.

After a few days of creativity, you’ll probably find your leftover supply dwindling.

But, if you’ve got tons of leftovers, here’s a good way to put them all to use in a fresh, new dish.

Turkey leftover casserole

8 ounces mini fusili or farfalle pasta, macaroni, or other pasta shapes

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 cup diced leftover ham

3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

2 cups diced leftover turkey

1 cup peas and carrots, optional


1 cup soft bread crumbs, or torn up rolls

1 tablespoon butter

Cook pasta in boiling salted water following the directions. Drain, rinse and set aside. Heat butter in a large skillet and saute the onion and celery over medium-low heat until soft. Add ham and stir in flour until combined. Slowly stir in the milk until thick. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, turkey, and vegetables. Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned.

The swiss cheese and ham give this casserole flavor kick. Leftover croissant or roll crumbs or make a great topping for this dish.