Encore! What to do with leftover turkey

I love potluck events at the S&A Cherokee office because we have some super skilled food MacGyvers who can take any theme and come up with a tasty treat. We put their skills to the test this year and challenged our staff to submit their suggestions for innovative ways to use up the remainder of a holiday bird — because let’s face it, turkey sandwiches get old. We taste tested the entries, and these were the resounding favorites.

Turkey Nachos
Inspired by the barbecue pork nachos at Raleigh Times, automotive staff writer Joe Overby thought up a decadent snack time use for turkey that resonated very well with our staff.Turkey Nachos

  • 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces turkey breast, chopped
  • 4-cheese blend to taste (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 small Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 fresh jalapenos (less or more to taste)
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • cilantro to taste (a little goes a long way!)
  • sour cream to taste (a few spoonfuls)
  • one lime

Chop tomatoes, onion, jalapenos and green pepper finely. Add 2-3 pinches chopped cilantro.

Squeeze juice of lime over all ingredients and stir. Set in refrigerator to blend flavors.

Warm turkey and black beans separately. Place turkey on the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish; top with beans.

Scatter cheese on top of turkey and beans. Bake or microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Pour salsa mix on top.

Add a few spoonfuls of sour cream to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

“They were spicy, which I love, but they still had a ton of other flavor that came through the heat. My definite favorite.” — Kati Knowland, special projects manager

Black Friday Pasta Salad
Graphic Designer Jessica Rose got in touch with her creative by crafting a recipe all her own. Her goal was to clear up pantry space from little-used items purchased for the big meal. “Knowing that making a large dinner using ingredients that are not a staple in most households may yield leftover ingredients that will more than likely get tossed, I was determined to use those ingredients in my pasta salad,” she said.Black Friday Pasta Salad

“After a heavy and filling Thanksgiving day dinner, it’s nice to have something to eat the next day that is on the lighter side and refreshing,” she added. We agree, and the blend of flavors in this dish is surprisingly complex.

  • 16 ounces dry, medium sized pasta, such as penne, bowtie, or rotini
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cubed or shredded
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 large onion (or one bunch of green onions)
  • 6 large celery stalks with leaves
  • 6 ounces pecan pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch fresh chives

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spread on a baking pan. Place baking pan into the refrigerator to completely chill while you assemble the other ingredients.

Separate the celery leaves from the stalks. Rinse leaves well and roughly chop. Add to a large mixing or serving bowl.

Slice the celery stalks against the grain into 2-3 inch pieces, then slice with the grain to create thin, ribbon-like strips. Add the celery to the bowl.

Dice the onion and add to the bowl.

Add pasta, turkey, raisins, cranberries and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Toss well and refrigerate.

Just before serving, chop the chives and add to the salad. Then heat a pan over low to medium heat and add the pecan pieces. Toast pieces until fragrant, remove from heat and add to the salad. Give one final toss, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

“Everything was so fresh and flavorful and light — nothing heavy or weighed down.” — Lauren Brown, assistant account executive

Turkey Salad
Family standby recipes often evolve from something long ago found in a cookbook, which is the case for Triangle East Section Editor Nancy Pardue. She traces a chicken salad recipe back to “a cookbook so old its pages are literally falling out.” She’s tweaked the recipe bit by bit over the years, and now she describes it as “a use-what-you-have-on-hand holiday favorite.”Turkey Salad

“You can serve this salad atop crackers, breads or lettuce leaves or in sandwiches with your choice of additional veggies,” she recommends.

  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
  • 2 cups cooked turkey breast, cubed or shredded
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pimientos, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion

Combine mayonnaise and mustard. Toss lightly with remaining ingredients; chill.

“I’m a sucker for chicken salad, so this was very ‘in my comfort zone’ for taste. I loved it!” — Daniel Hooks, digital media and marketing project manager

Turkey Fried Rice
Account executive Glenn Gillen knew exactly what he wanted to make for the challenge. “This dish was a post-Thanksgiving staple growing up in our household thanks to my Vietnamese mother who was very creative in her use of turkey leftovers,” he said. “My brothers and I have continued the tradition since she passed away several years ago.” Turkey Fried Rice

Gillen encourages substituting other combinations of meat and vegetables based on what you have on hand. “Another beauty of stir frying is that after all the prep work of cutting, chopping and measuring is done, the actual cooking time is relatively brief,” he noted.

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups diced turkey meat
  • 6 cups day-old cooked white rice
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • soy sauce
  • black pepper

Heat 1 teaspoon cooking oil on high in a large wok. Scramble the egg and break into small pieces with a spatula. Remove the egg.

Heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil on high in the wok. Add the onions and let them cook until translucent (about 1-2 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the onion just starts to turn brown.

Add the turkey meat and stir-fry 2-3 minutes until heated through and slightly seared.

Add the rice and stir to coat evenly with oil and break up any clumps.

Add a few dashes of soy sauce to taste (add more if you like it saltier).

Fold in the peas and scrambled egg and heat through, stirring constantly.

Season with ground pepper to taste and serve.

Feel free to experiment and add chopped green peppers, chopped scallions, bean sprouts, hot sauce, etc.

“Better than takeout!” — Amy Mangels, graphic designer

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