Leftover Hacks

Six ideas to make your leftovers sing.
Published October 15, 2017

Every October Canadians across the country sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends and enjoy the yearly feast with gusto. As impossible as it may seem before dinner begins and in spite of everyone’s best intentions, an inevitable selection of leftovers quickly becomes apparent. With such an abundance and variety of leftovers stowed away in the fridge, it’s fun to get creative and go a step beyond turkey sandwiches and classic turkey soup.

Make a Thanksgiving-themed grain bowl

The biggest obstacle to eating grain bowls regularly is often the prep work required, which makes Thanksgiving leftovers the perfect solution for quick grain bowls packed full of flavour. Grains can include leftover wild rice, barley, quinoa or bulgur. No leftover grains? Make up a big batch of your favourite grain and top with stuffing, shredded turkey, vegetables and anything else you deem a tasty addition to a winning grain bowl.

Freeze shredded turkey in individual portions

Turkey is an awesome, low fat source of protein that can be used year-round in salads, omelettes, soups, and quesadillas. Nevertheless, it isn’t used by home chefs year round the way that chicken is. Take advantage of extra turkey by shredding the meat and discarding the bones (or, making a super flavourful turkey stock for soup), portion the meat into resealable freezer bags and label with the amount included and date it was frozen.

Make a creamy soup in 10 minutes or less

Roasted and mashed vegetables, especially root vegetables, peas and broccoli, make delicious bases for easy pureed soups. Add the vegetables to a blender along with an equal amount of turkey stock or your favourite homemade or store bought stock. Blitz the veggies and stock until creamy and smooth, adding a heaping spoonful of Greek yogourt or ¼ cup of coconut milk for a creamier texture. Depending on the type of vegetable being used try adding different herbs and spices; curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chilies are most often paired with root vegetables. Transfer the liquid to a soup pot and warm until it begins to simmer, adding the juice of half a lemon or an orange, tasting for seasoning adjustments before serving.

Poach eggs in leftover greens

Leftover cooked greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard make an eggs-cellent base for poached eggs. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and gently warm up the leftover greens, piling them to the side to make space for the eggs. Crack the eggs one at a time into their green nests, covering the skillet with a lid for 3 minutes so that the eggs poach right into the greens. Finish the dish off with fresh herbs, chili flakes, and crumbled feta or goat's milk cheese.

Bake mashed potatoes into crispy cakes

Mashed potatoes and yams are notoriously difficult to heat up as leftovers but they do make incredible savoury cakes with the addition of a few extra ingredients. Make sure that the mash has completely cooled down before stirring in an egg, some thinly sliced scallions or chives and a small handful of grated sharp cheese. Using a very light hand, form the mixture into small cakes and bake on a parchment paper-lined tray in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Make a meatless quesadilla

If Thanksgiving dinner is a vegetarian or vegan affair in your household, try making quesadillas with leftover roasted or mashed sweet potatoes, greens, and stuffing (adding a small handful of grated cheese if you’re making a vegetarian quesadilla). Use the sweet potatoes or other mashed root vegetables as the glue that holds the quesadilla together. Use leftover chutney or cranberry sauce for a tangy-sweet dip in place of ketchup or salsa.