Here’s what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers

Turkey Tortilla Soup.
Turkey Tortilla Soup.
Photo: Photo For The Washington Post By Deb Lindsey
Photo: Photo For The Washington Post By Deb Lindsey
Turkey Tortilla Soup.
Turkey Tortilla Soup.
Photo: Photo For The Washington Post By Deb Lindsey
Pat yourself on the back. You’ve made it through Thanksgiving! Now if you didn’t freeze and/or divvy up the leftovers, you may be searching for creative ways to repurpose the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce and sides.
Somewhere in between simply reheating leftovers (easy!) and turning them into falafel-like patties (worth it but perhaps more work than you care for!) is this group of recipes. We’ve also included a few tips for getting a jump-start on upcoming holiday eats, just for kicks. And if you are totally content to r-e-l-a-x and make sandwiches for a few days, go forth. You know where to find us when you get bored with that.
1. Turkey tortilla soup. This comes together in about 20 minutes, start to finish, and is ideal for not only using turkey and turkey broth leftovers, but also ridding your pantry of other lingering canned goods such as enchilada sauce. If you don’t have the garnishes, feel free to top the soup with other leftovers – roasted Brussels sprouts and a dollop of gravy mixed with sour cream could stand in for the tomatoes and cheese, for example.
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade turkey broth, plus more for thinning the soup as necessary
1 1/4 cups canned green enchilada sauce, such as Hatch brand
1 1/4 cups canned red enchilada sauce, such as Hatch brand
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup nonfat half-and-half (may substitute for low-fat milk)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup coarsely chopped grape tomatoes, for garnish
1 avocado, flesh cut into 1/2-inch dice, for garnish
1 jalapeno chile pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely minced, for garnish
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish
In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, working in batches, heat the corn tortillas on both sides until they are slightly charred in spots; this should take about 6 minutes total. Slice the tortillas into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine the broth and tortilla strips. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the tortillas have softened and have thickened the broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the enchilada sauces, cumin, half-and-half and cooked turkey, stirring to combine. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the soup is heated through. (You may add more broth to achieve a thinner consistency.) To serve, divide the soup among individual bowls and garnish with the tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno chili pepper and cheddar cheese.
2. Turkey stroganoff on toast. Quick comfort here, with a sour cream tomato sauce amped up with smoked Spanish paprika. This is also a reminder that most leftovers can be quickly morphed into something else by adding a carb or starchy base. Beyond toast, we’d use leftover turkey in pizza, tacos, baked potatoes, rice paper or wonton wrappers, crepes, pasta or rice. (These bases would also serve as ideal landing spots for other leftovers, such as greens or salads.)
Another fun thing, if you’ve got a waffle maker: Grease it, then plop on some stuffing and close; the edges get all crisped and crackly, and you’ve got tasty waffles that could be topped with cranberry sauce and turkey or leftover Brussels sprouts.
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
14 ounces cooked skinless, boneless turkey
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons no-salt-added chicken or turkey broth
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton), plus more as needed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large slices sourdough bread
Leaves from 2 to 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
Cut the onion in half, then into very thin half-moon slices. Use the flat side of a chef’s knife to crush the garlic (like you mean it). Use your clean hands to shred the turkey into strips or bite-size pieces. Pour the broth into a microwave-safe cup; heat in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds or until it’s quite hot.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the garlic. Sprinkle the tablespoon of smoked paprika over the onion and garlic, then clear a space at the center of the pan and drop in the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir it in until incorporated.
Pour in the hot broth, stirring to blend it, then add the turkey. Cook for about 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low; stir in the mustard and about one-third of the sour cream until well combined. Cook just until warmed through. Taste, and season with salt, pepper and/or smoked paprika, as needed.
Meanwhile, toast the bread, then place a piece on each plate. Coarsely chop the parsley (to taste). Top each piece of toasted bread with equal amounts of the stroganoff, then dollop some of the remaining sour cream on each one. Garnish with the parsley; serve warm.
3. Fig and brie omelets. Eggs are a natural home for leftovers, too. Instead of fig jam, you could use cranberry sauce in these easy omelets. Serve with sliced turkey on the side or within. For more bang for your buck, servings-wise, go with a frittata – leftover vegetables can easily stand in for the mushrooms and peppers in this recipe.
4 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces chilled brie cheese
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 loosely packed cups baby arugula leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lime
3 or 4 fresh figs
4 tablespoons fig jam
Lightly beat the eggs and egg whites in a large liquid measuring cup. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cut the cheese into thin slices.
Melt half the butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling it to coat the pan.
Pour in half the egg mixture; cook, undisturbed, for 30 seconds, then use a flexible spatula to push the surface uncooked egg toward the center. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the egg is almost set at the center.
Meanwhile, place the arugula in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with a little oil and squeeze some lime juice (to taste) over the greens. Stem the fresh figs, then cut the fruit into halves or quarters. Toss with the greens, and season the salad lightly with salt and pepper.
Dollop half the jam on one side of the egg in the pan, then arrange half the brie slices on top of the jam.
Use the spatula to help fold the egg over the cheese. Cook for 30 seconds or so, then gently slide the omelet onto a plate. Top with half the salad. Repeat with the remaining butter, egg, jam, cheese and salad for the second plate.
4. Southwest-style turkey hash with creamy avocado-cilantro sauce. Because really, when is a hash a bad idea? This one’s got an assortment of vegetables, including bell peppers, celery, onions, sweet potatoes and red potatoes.
Ingredients for the hash:
2 or 3 skin-on red potatoes (5 to 6 ounces total), cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 cups)
1/2 skin-on large sweet potato, scrubbed well, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
4 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup low-sodium turkey broth
1/8 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1 small/medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
1/2 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
1/2 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (3/4 cup)
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
1 medium jalapeño pepper, minced and seeded
5 1/2 cups cooked, diced turkey breast (no skin; 1/2-inch pieces)
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/4 cups)
2 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Ingredients for the sauce:
Flesh of 2 ripe Hass avocados
Packed 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Water (optional)
For the hash: Combine the red potatoes, sweet potato and broth in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cover and cook undisturbed for about 8 minutes, then uncover and cook until the broth has been absorbed/evaporated. The potatoes should be almost tender.
Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pan, stirring to coat the potatoes. Season with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Cook (over medium-high heat) for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the majority of the potatoes are crisped and browned but not burnt. Turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the bell peppers, onions, celery and jalapeno, stirring to coat. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the turkey, stirring to incorporate; cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and the bell peppers have softened.
While the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce: Combine the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a mini or standard-size food processor. Puree to form a smooth sauce; if it seems too thick to drizzle/pour, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to achieve the right consistency. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or to a zip-top bag (cut 1 corner in order to drizzle).
Toss the potatoes and the vegetable-turkey mixture together in large serving bowl. Drizzle the lime juice over them, then add the tomatoes and scallions, tossing gently to incorporate.
Garnish the hash with fresh cilantro, if using; drizzle the sauce over the top in a zigzag pattern. Serve warm.
5. Dorie Greenspan’s next day turkey-and-cranberry sriracha strata. If you’re more inclined to toss everything together and bake it until its warm, then try this twist on the savory bread pudding. It uses turkey, cranberry sauce and leftover bread if you’ve got it. This is best if you assemble it at least six hours (or up to eight or so) before baking.
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
14 to 16 slices cinnamon-raisin bread (about an entire 1-pound loaf of Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl)
1 to 2 (packed) cups baby kale or baby spinach
1 to 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought whole cranberry sauce (see NOTE)
About 2 cups leftover roasted turkey cubes
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
6 large eggs
3 to 4 tablespoons Sriracha (may substitute a few dashes of hot sauce for less-intense heat)
Lightly grease the inside of a 2-quart roasting pan or a deep 8-by-9-inch Pyrex baking dish with butter. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or a silicone liner
Cut each slice of bread diagonally to make 2 triangles, then cut it diagonally in the opposite direction so that you have 4 triangles.
Arrange about one-third of the bread on the bottom of the pan, leaving space between the triangles. (You don’t need a solid layer of bread.) Cover the bread with half of the greens and dollop on half of the cranberry sauce, again not aiming for a full and smooth layer. Scatter half of the turkey over the greens, then cover with half of the cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of bread (use half of the remaining bread) and all of the remaining greens, cranberry sauce, turkey and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and top the casserole with the remaining bread triangles.
Whisk together the half-and-half, eggs and Sriracha (to taste); season with salt and pepper. Slowly and gradually pour this mixture over the strata. You want to cover the top layer of bread — a sometimes messy job, because the liquid might seep over the edges of the pan – and have it trickle down evenly to the base of the pan. Once all of the mixture is in, gently press the layers down with a spatula or fork.
Cover the strata and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Remove it from the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover the strata and keep it on the lined baking sheet.
Bake (middle rack) for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the strata comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool until the strata is warm or at room temperature. Serve solo or with a lightly dressed green salad.
Note: To make the cranberry sauce, combine 12 ounces of fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring, until most of the berries pop, a bubbling syrup develops and the sauce leaves tracks that quickly fill when stirred. It will not look set, but it will set as it cools. Scrape it into a heatproof bowl and leave at room temperature to cool. Use immediately, or cover well and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
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Now to get a head start on your holiday baking: Take leftover cranberry sauce and use it to make these Whole-Wheat Jam Thumbprints, which can be stored in the freezer for several months. If you opted to make a no-cook relish, use it to infuse vodka or gin, then use that booze for your holiday-time cocktails. A very clever reader gave us this tip last year – think you can top that?

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