Food & Drink

Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

When I was a child, my grandmother used to roast two enormous turkeys at the holidays. And that was on top of all the usual gravies and sauces, sides and pies. For days afterward, the entire family would eat Grandma’s famous “blue plate special,” which was our euphemism for leftovers.

Fast forward to today, and I think turkey actually has a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand, it is associated with a day reserved for feasting with abandon. On the other, turkey is a lean protein whose versatility should be celebrated. Just one serving of skinless turkey meat has more than half the protein you need for an entire day (and less than one gram of fat!). Plus, turkey is a good source of vitamin B and selenium.

Not only is turkey a healthy choice, it’s a versatile one, too. And its versatility is the key to avoiding leftover fatigue. So instead of ladling leftover gravy on yet another open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing, trick your palate into thinking it’s getting something altogether different.

In this turkey and napa cabbage salad with lime-ginger vinaigrette, I take the taste buds someplace decidedly un-Thanksgiving-y in a couple of ways.

I lean toward the anti-feast by making a fresh dinner salad with crunchy veggies and a bright citrusy dressing. Also, I completely change the flavor profile by bringing in ginger and lime, which feel more Asian than Pilgrim. Also consider using leftover turkey to go Mexican (try tacos and a chunky salsa), Vietnamese (how about a banh mi?) or Thai (add turkey cubes to a pad Thai or a coconut curry).

However you decide to give new life to your protein-packed leftovers, here is a tip: It’s always easier to remove the meat from the turkey bones the same day it’s roasted. The meat comes away more easily, it won’t dry out (because it’s easier to wrap than a whole bird), and it’s fast and simple to grab just what you need.