Put leftover turkey to use

Soup and sandwich 
(Photo provided — Yvona Fast)

Soup and sandwich (Photo provided — Yvona Fast)

Now that the feast is over, what should you do with all that turkey?

I’m sure you have heard that “leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving.” Precooked turkey is a great convenience product for salads, sandwiches, casseroles, and stir-fries. The carcass makes a nice broth. And if you still don’t think you can use it all up, give some to your guests to take home, or freeze some for future use.

Americans eat lots of sandwiches — they’re quick and easy to make. For many, the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich is a tradition.

You can always make a regular sandwich with turkey, mayo, lettuce and tomato. But why not put a new twist on it? Instead of mayo, spread the bread with gravy. In place of tomatoes, use cranberry sauce. In place of lettuce, pile on leftover squash or mashed sweet potatoes.

Make a turkey Reuben with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, a turkey melt with cheese, or a turkey BLT. Make it a Pulled Turkey sandwich by making a sauce with ketchup, herbs and seasonings, and wine vinegar and stirring in shredded turkey meat, then serve on toasted buns. Cranberry sauce, mashed squash and melty cheese combine for wonderful grilled vegetarian sandwiches, too.

Make chicken salad by adding a little mayo, sliced celery and chopped apple to chopped turkey, and use on sandwiches. Cream cheese, cranberry sauce, turkey and sprouts on a crusty multi grain roll make a great sandwich too.

Leftover turkey makes a great base for a grilled open-face sandwich. Layer the meat with cheese, leftover cranberry sauce or chutney, peppery greens like arugula and sliced sweet or red onions.

Instead of bread, use a tortilla to make a wrap, taco or quesadilla. For a different turkey taco, combine shredded turkey with sliced radishes, avocado, and crème fraiche or sour cream. Serve on corn tortillas with optional hot sauce or salsa. Pile stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, turkey and gravy on a tortilla, wrap and roll!

Turkey, cranberry sauce and cheese make great quesadillas; you can add a little chopped jalapeno and onion for a spicier quesadilla. Tortillas, leftover turkey, leftover salad, grated cheese and enchilada sauce make a great enchilada. For an Asian (rather than Mexican) twist, replace jalapeno and hot sauce with Asian seasonings like fresh ginger and Hoisin sauce. Add curry for an East Indian touch.

Going low-carb? Wrap your turkey, cranberries and mashed squash in a lettuce or kale leaf instead of a tortilla. Turkey meat is also great in salads. Locally grown fresh greens and apples are still available. Use leftover turkey to replace chicken in a Caesar salad.

Now that I gave you lots of ideas, here are a couple of recipes.

Oven Roasted Turkey Grilled Cheese for one


1 slice whole-grain bread or 1 flour tortilla

A little gravy (1 teaspoon)

2 – 4 slices turkey

1 slice cheese, such as Swiss, Cheddar or brie

1/2 cup or more mixed greens or lettuce

1/4 cup cranberry chutney or sauce


Place bread on oven-proof plate or tray. Spread thinly with gravy. Top with turkey and cheese. Place in hot oven or toaster oven and broil or bake until cheese melts. Remove from oven; add greens and top with cranberry chutney. Serve right away.

Turkey Wrap: To make this into a wrap, place a flour tortilla flat on the counter. Place greens in the center, top with turkey, then brie or other soft cheese and then cranberry sauce. Roll from the edge closest to you and wrap. Take the opposite edge and place over roll. Fold and tuck edges in. Serve.

Serves one.

Cranberry-Turkey Quesadilla


3 oz.. leftover turkey

1/2 small onion (1/3 cup minced)

1/2 jalapeno pepper

2 8″ flour tortillas

1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar or Monterey Jack)

1/4 cup cranberry sauce

1/2 cup fresh spicy greens like arugula, parsley, cilantro


Shred turkey and set aside. Mince the onion and dice the pepper; combine in small bowl and set aside.

Place skillet over medium heat.

Layer like this: 1 tortilla, 1/4 cup of cheese (half the cheese), all the shredded turkey, minced onion and pepper, cranberry sauce, fresh greens, and remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Top with the second tortilla.

Cook 2-4 minutes, until golden brown and cheese melts. Place a plate on top: flip onto the plate then slide back into skillet to cook the other side for two to four minutes to brown.

Serves 1.

Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at www.wordsaremyworld.com, yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on Facebook as Author Yvona Fast.