Rethink Thanksgiving Leftovers with These Recipes 

The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs about 30 pounds, about twice as large as in 1929. Depending on your holiday headcount, that could mean a lot of leftover bird. Don’t get me wrong — leftovers are nice, but after a few meals of Thanksgiving turkey, it might be time to spice it up. Keep reading for three delicious ways to rethink your Thanksgiving leftovers. 

Turkey isn’t the only staple on the Thanksgiving menu, and it’s important to plan and think ahead to avoid waste. A good rule of thumb — whether you’re receiving a Thanksgiving goody bag or storing your leftovers — is foods will stay safe for up to about four days in the fridge. Here are some other things to keep in mind: 

Plan ahead. Planning for leftovers before the cooking starts is the best way to make the most of your food. Consider these tips: 

  • Consider the number of expected attendees and purchase an appropriate size of turkey needed. 
  • Arrange the fridge and freezer so there’s room to quickly put away leftovers. 
  • Make sure there are enough storage containers and plastic bags to stow away leftovers. 
  • Make sure you have containers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to ensure food safety. 
  • When freezing items, consider how they will be thawed and how to apportion them. Rather than freezing a solid turkey breast, shred or cut it, then freeze it in the increments needed. 
  • While serving, set a timer to remember to put the leftovers away in time to ensure food safety. 

Save your scraps. Bones, cheese rinds, herb stems and vegetable peels make for a great stock. Keep a gallon-sized zippered plastic bag in the freezer to add to when cleaning up scraps. Stock comes in handy for many soups and sauces, and our planet will thank you for reusing the scraps. 

Rethink your leftovers. There’s no reason to limit serving your turkey with leftover gravy and stuffing. Consider spicing up the bird with these ideas: 

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ onion, finely chopped 
  • 8 ounces shredded turkey 
  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium taco seasoning, or to taste 
  • 8 street-style tortillas 

Toppings 

  • 2 avocados, sliced 
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce, shredded 
  • 4 ounces shredded cheese 
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced 
  • 2 sprigs cilantro 
  • Optional — sour cream, taco sauce or salsa 

Leftover Turkey tacos

Turkey Tacos — Makes 8 Tacos 

Instructions
1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil. Add minced garlic and chopped onion and cook until golden and fragrant.  

2. Add shredded turkey and incorporate with oil, garlic and onions. Add taco seasoning until the turkey is evenly covered and thoroughly heated. 

3. Assemble taco by adding a couple of slices of avocado to each tortilla then smash with a fork, add lettuce and turkey mixture, then ½ ounce of cheese to melt on top. Follow up with Roma tomatoes, cilantro and any sauce of your choosing. 

4. Serve these tacos with any pantry or fridge staples and favorites. Switch it up and get creative with the vegetables you use or make your own salsa. 

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Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers, tops cut off, and core and seeds removed 
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ onion, finely chopped 
  • 8 ounces shredded turkey 
  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium taco seasoning, or to taste 
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese or other cheese

Turkey stuffed peppers

Turkey Stuffed Peppers — Makes 4 Peppers 

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Place bell peppers on a lined baking sheet and roast, allowing them to slightly soften, while preparing the turkey mixture. 

3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Add minced garlic and chopped onion, and cook until golden and fragrant.  

4. Add shredded turkey and incorporate with oil, garlic and onions. Add taco seasoning until the turkey is evenly covered and thoroughly heated. 

5. Remove bell peppers from the oven. Carefully fill each pepper with 2 ounces of turkey mixture. Top with 1 ounce of shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea pasta, cooked 
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed then minced 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 6 ounces shredded turkey 
  • ½ cup dry white wine 
  • 1 cup spinach 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 ounces shaved parmesan 
  • Basil leaves, chopped for garnish 

Turkey pasta

Turkey and Veggie-Packed Chickpea Pasta — Serves 2 

Instructions
1. In a medium saucepan, heat water to boiling and add pasta. Cook according to package instructions to net 1 cup of cooked pasta. 

2. In a large skillet over low medium-low heat, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and golden. Add cherry tomatoes and turkey, stirring and turning up the heat to medium. Once tomatoes are softened slightly, about 5 minutes, add white wine. Let simmer until it has reduced down, about 10 minutes.  

3. Stir in the spinach and cook until reduced in size. Stir in cooked chickpea pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir. Serve in a bowl and top with parmesan cheese and basil. Enjoy! 

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