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4 creative ways to re-invent your Thanksgiving leftovers

By Hilary Meyer, November 22, 2010 - 11:36am

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I’m looking forward to roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving, but the real excitement for me lies in what’s for dinner on the days that follow. When I think of cooking for the holidays, I immediately consider the leftovers. I can’t wait to use them in all sorts of other dishes. At Thanksgiving I choose a bigger turkey than I need and I’ll do the same when I’m roasting a whole chicken, since they both lend themselves especially well to day-after-the-party meals. Leftover turkey or chicken makes dinner the next night easy on the cook and easy on the budget.

With only about 144 calories and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per 3-ounce serving, roasted turkey or chicken is healthy as well. Plus, cooked poultry is endlessly versatile. But it’s not just about leftover turkey. Here are some idea for your extra turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and sweet potatoes.

Related links:
17 delicious recipes for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey
5-Ingredient Chicken and Turkey Recipes
19 easy ideas for leftover pasta, ham and more
Fresh Recipes for Green Beans
Simple Sweet Potato Recipes

Use Leftover Turkey in: Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

This is a healthier twist on a classic creamy turkey and wild rice soup that hails from Minnesota. Serve with a crisp romaine salad and whole-grain bread.

Use Leftover Mashed Potatoes in: Turkey & Leek Shepherd's Pie

The mashed potato-covered shepherd’s pie was originally created to use up the leftovers from a festive roast. This version blends peas, leeks and carrots with diced turkey, all in a creamy herb sauce. The dish is a perfect way to create a second meal with the holiday turkey but if you like, use leftover roast chicken, duck or goose.

Use Leftover Sweet Potatoes in: Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoky Pinto Beans

These easy sweet potato fritters have a crispy crust and a tender middle. Just skip cooking the sweet potatoes in the first two steps. The beans are flavored with smoked paprika, but sweet or hot would work well too. To give it a Mexican-inspired twist, use chili powder as the spice instead of the paprika. 

Use Leftover Green Beans in: Nouveau Nicoise Salad

This quick, easy remake of the Provençal standard turns a couple of cans of tuna into a main-course salad that’s just waiting for a glass of crisp Chardonnay. Just skip cooking the green beans in the first step.

What’s your favorite way to eat your Thanksgiving leftovers? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Hilary Meyer, Food Blog, Dinner, Family meals

Hilary Meyer
Hilary Meyer develops and tests healthy recipes in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Hilary asks: What’s your favorite way to eat your Thanksgiving leftovers?

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